Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Linear Motor Kinetic Sculpture

Ball Lift Alternative
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This is an idea for a kind of Rolling Ball Kinetic Sculpture, or at least part of one.

Simply put, we have a simple switch (optical, perhaps) which activates whenever a ball is close enough to it, which in turn briefly energizes an electromagnet, which is located on the track shortly after the sensor.

Each sensor/electromagnet pair adds to the momentum of the (ferromagnetic) ball passing through.

With enough of these in a row, we can give a ball enough kinetic energy to roll all the way from the bottom of the sculpture to the top.

Basically, it's a linear motor which doesn't require permanent magnets.

goldbb, Jun 20 2015

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       If the ball is rolling on metal rails, why not just put power across them and drive the ball with the lorentz force? If carefully applied, you could make your marble machine run backwards.
mitxela, Jun 21 2015
  

       Sweet.
Someone really needs to make a ferrofluid Escher falls.
  

       [2 fries], it would be simpler to do with mercury and MHD (magnetohydrodynamics), and it would be safer-than- mercury possible with other liquid metals, such as the alloy "galinstan". For MHD, all you need is a steady magnetic field crossing the flume containing the liquid metal (say from upper-left to lower-right, in terms of a cross-sectional view of the flume) --permanent magnets should be fine. Then pass an electric current from upper-right to lower- left, through the liquid metal, and it will respond by flowing along the length of the flume.
Vernon, Jun 21 2015
  

       //Someone really needs to make a ferrofluid Escher falls.//   

       I'd bun that.
doctorremulac3, Jun 21 2015
  

       That's pretty cool [Vernon]. So... could Mercury be rail-gunned then?   
      
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