Oxford Physics features on QI

30 October 2014

Followers of the popular BBC TV quiz show QI, hosted by Stephen Fry, were able to enjoy a demonstration of superconducting levitation developed in the Oxford Physics Department. The show, which was entitled Levity and was aired on 24 Oct 2014, included a sequence in which Stephen Fry cools a slab of ceramic superconductor in liquid nitrogen and demonstrates it levitating over a permanent magnet through the mechanism of flux exclusion (the Meissner-Ochsenfeld effect). Fry goes on to show the superconductor floating around a magnetic race track which models a futuristic form of transportation known as a MagLev. Professor Andrew Boothroyd, who appeared on the show and developed the demonstration in collaboration with colleagues in Physics and in the Department of Education, said "this demonstration is the pièce de résistance of a presentation we give to schools and at Open Days. It is a wonderful example of a quantum phenomenon accessible on the human scale, and everybody loves it!".

The episode of QI is available until 23 November on the BBC iPlayer.

See also the article "Superconductivity: Strike while the iron is hot" in the Autumn 2014 edition of the Physics Newsletter.