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Sport: Skating
Maglev skating   (+30, -3)  [vote for, against]
Magnetic gliding indoors.

Make the rink floor out of magnets all oriented the same way, and magnets on the skates oriented such that they repel the floor. It's possible to get pretty high-power magnets for not too much money. <One website has magnets that will lift 150 pounds apiece, so two should easily lift most people>

The floor can be covered in soft padding for when people fall off their skates, without impeding the magnetic force.

How would people provide motive power? Wouldn't be able to push like on wheeled skates.
-- StarChaser, Apr 07 2001

Demo of two small magnets holding 150 pounds. [StarChaser, Apr 07 2001, last modified Oct 05 2004]

The Science of Hockey
[egnor, Apr 07 2001, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Halbach Arrays http://en.wikipedia.../wiki/Halbach_array
A discussion of Halbach arrays [gardnertoo, Dec 22 2006]

Example of Halbach Array
From the good people at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory [gardnertoo, Dec 22 2006]

As with magnetic bearings, the lack of friction is its own undoing. Vertical oscillations build up with nothing to stop them until your shoes hit bottom, *clunk*, and suddenly you're sprawling.

Maybe I exaggerate the effect. But you might also try considering a large "air table" (as used for air hockey) with elongated pucks for shoes.

Either way, as UB points out, you need some way to move. It might be entertaining to use compressed-air "rockets" (strap the tank on your pack, use a handheld nozzle). Sounds like a challenging and dangerous sport in any case...
-- egnor, Apr 07 2001

How about another large magnet that's held in your hands, but this one is attracted to the magnets on the floor. If it was shielded on the sides somehow, the pull could be made directional. Then by holding it out in front of you, angled slightly towards the floor, it should pull you forward, as long as you could keep your arms and body relatively rigid. To turn, simply point the magnet slightly left or right.
-- PotatoStew, Apr 07 2001

Imagine a maglev hockey variant where egnor's "air rocket" is used not only to move the players, but also the puck (so that making a pass or shot in any other direction than 180 degrees from your current vector changes your vector) and opposing players (so that a sufficiently skilled player might charge an opponent, whip the nozzle around as a brake, push the opponent out of the way while braking, and wind up hovering in place before taking off again).

-- Uncle Nutsy, Apr 08 2001

Another way to move: have a pocketful of magnets on longish strings. You toss the magnet out while holding onto its string; it lands on the floor and sticks, hard. You pull on the string and swing yourself around or stop yourself or pull yourself forward or whatever you want to do. Drop the string when you're done.

Every so often, they turn off the floor magnets and everyone collects a pocketful of magnets again.
-- egnor, Apr 08 2001

Maybe instead of the rink being a flat floor like normal ones, make it a bowl with curved sides so you can bank around the corners.

Giving people long sticks to push with would work but might be a bad idea. Egnor's rockets might be cool, strap them on and have a nozzle in the small of your back...

Could make the floor outside the rink of pegged wood, so you could walk to the 'return the skates' area without having to have someone come lift you with a tow-truck.

Might be a better idea to do it like a skate-park, and use skateboards with the magnets instead. Put wheels on the board as well, so that when you're up on the start you can kick to get some speed, then you go down where the magnets are and lift off.
-- StarChaser, Apr 08 2001

starchaser; then in the skate park,it could have magnets of varying strengths,for gradient,little need for ramps
-- technobadger, Apr 08 2001

The permanent magnet can have a companion electromagnet to modify field strength to automatically stop oscillations and toe/heel could be modulated to generate thrust/braking. You could also have a thruster pack. Model jet aircraft (electric) generate several pounds of thrust for several minutes on a NiCd pack.
-- Kirk, Sep 03 2001

I like the wings idea...

Or high-carbohydrate food in the snack shop...Would require a -really- good air system, though..
-- StarChaser, Sep 03 2001

It seems to me that skating relies heavily on the effect of your weight on the skate's blades; Maglev Skating, then, would have to be a very different concept. Imagine an elongated spheroid arena populated by floating, wing-flapping people with cool chrome ski- or snowboard-type things strapped to their feet; or perhaps, better, shiny chrome bodysuits!
-- jabbers, Sep 04 2001

I dunno about maglev skating.

Maglev luge or bobsled? NOW we're talking. =^___^=
-- Almafeta, Dec 08 2002

How many broken bones resulted from this.
-- The Kat, May 10 2003

The upper end of the magnets on the skater will be attracted by the rink's magnets. If the skater is at the centre of the rink, s/he is ok. But move away from the centre, and s/he will be pulled back there. Also, if the foot magnet is tall, the skater can be pulled to fall. Better to make the magnet short, like a disk magnet.
-- trung, Jun 07 2003

I don't think this will work with skates, but I reckon it could work with a skateboard. The arena will be densely packed with electromagnetic coils, all individually controllable by computer. The board is just an aluminium plate. The arena senses the location of the board, and drives the underfloor magnets to produce a localised AC magnetic field which will levitate the board and propel it. (This bit is baked for a linear track but I haven't seen a 2D version). Direction and speed would be controlled by the rider using some kind of remote control communicating to the arena computer. Maybe the remote would be built into the board and be foot operated. Better still, just sense fore/aft and left/right tilting of the board. Speed control would then work rather like a Segway.
-- Stingray, Jun 09 2003

Missed this one first time round. Bouncy walls. The rink would have to have bouncy walls.
-- DrBob, Jun 09 2003

Why have walls? I imagine the wall could become extra floor space. Get up enough speed and you can do amazing acrobatic flips, similarly to half-pipe ramps. Wo! Most excellent, ripped!
-- silverstormer, Jun 09 2003

The arena control computer could provide virtual slopes - areas where your board accelerates or decelerates without you commanding it. These slope areas could be fixed and marked on the floor - or they could be moving and marked on the floor by coloured lights. Then it would be like surfing. Not sure how we could generate a virtual halfpipe though. Och, let's just build the arena with curved up sides and see how it goes.
-- Stingray, Jun 09 2003

Without huge internally padded Sumo suits this idea won't work.
-- babyloon, Jun 09 2003

Coming in way late on this, but there are some important things left out...

First, both skates and skateboards have inherent stablizers, or they wouldn't work. With ice or inline skates, well, you have two feet. With a skateboard or roller skates, the force on the wheels increases as you lean to one side.

The skateboard model seems easier to recreate. Shape the board like a capital I (in a serif font), and angle the branches upward 15 degrees or so. Attach further magnets to them, so that if you tilt to the side, you're compensated by a stronger magnetic force on that side.

If you spaced the floor magnets regularly, could you achieve propulsion by modulating the strength of the board magnets? That would of course require that they be electromagnets powered onboard...

Finally--a really strong magnet on the seat of your pants. Because you know you're going to end up on it.
-- darksasami, Oct 07 2003

"Sir, you must remove all metal jewelry and clothing before entering the rink--is your bracelet...? Sir? SIR??!!! Please step back, don't..."


Ouch. That's gotta hurt. Worse yet, he had a nose ring.
-- scottinmn, Oct 07 2003

i guess any notion of wearable computers are out of the question.
-- binaryfoo, Mar 17 2004

if this is technically wrong , please for giveme Bismuth and Carbon-Graphite are substances ( I think) which when exposed to a magnetic feild produce an equal , but opiste magnetic charge , you can float these magnets on these substances as well as float these substances on magnets why would it be not a good idea to make the skates (or the floor) out of dimagnetic substances
-- obsidianjaguar, Dec 30 2004

Bismuth does have interesting diamagnetic properties, but it is far too weak to use for this purpose. (see link) Superconductors might work, but the task of keeping it cool would be far too expensive. Conventional iron or ceramic magnets are best for the floor, with neodium magnets for the skates.
-- Aq_Bi, Dec 31 2004

Well! UnaBubba's first post is quite correct, about the need for friction (or an equivalent).

I shall suggest pressurizing the skating rink. I shall suggest shoes with sufficient "sole" area to make falling over less easy (not necessarily snowshoe sized!). I shall suggest a slightly bowlegged stance. And I shall suggest that you wear special pants, with special vertical flaps on each side of each leg.

OK, put your right leg forward. Yes, you left leg will want to go backward. However, those vertical leg-flaps are designed line one-way valves. The forward motion of the right leg through the pressurized air causes the flaps along that leg to close. During the motion of the left leg, backward, the air catches and opens the leg flaps. The backward motion is slowed significantly, and your right leg can go forward more than the left leg goes backward.

Now you move your left leg forwrd. Yes, your right leg starts to go backward, but again the leg-flaps open and that motion is resisted. Which means you can skate! The slightly bowlegged stance allows the left leg to move past the extended flap on the right leg (the left leg's flaps are now closed, of course). Depending on air pressure/resistance, the necessary width of the flaps determines how bowlegged you have to be, to make this work.

--Oh, and your arms should have flaps, too, that may double as sails for turning.
-- Vernon, Dec 31 2004

As for no friction, that's not necessarily true. There's friction (so to speak) between the forces of the two magnets. If you force one down at a slight angle and let go, won't it come up in the opposite direction? If so, shouldn't you be able to do a slight jump and when you come down, your weight will push the magnets a little closer together. Before it springs you up, lean forward and angle your skates in the direction you want to go.and it should spring you up in that direction. To turn, push your feet down at an angle and it should spring you out a little toward that direction.

Does anyone think that wold work?
-- noeleb, Aug 03 2006

To be honest I was thinking along similar lines... If you play with a couple of magnets aligned so that the repulse each other you will notice a tendency for one of the magnets to spin.

Perhaps all the skater needs to do is tilt one of thier skates and try to balance themselves against the tendency for the skate to topple them over...
-- madness, Aug 04 2006

The concession stand could sell nothing but beans...
-- m_Al_com, Aug 05 2006

Three things:

I really don't think that the flaps would work, due to the fact that aerodynamics really don't apply until one is travelling in excess of 20 miles per hour.

Secondly, I believe that rinks with banked walls would be the best. That way, if one doesnt turn properly, they won't have to learn the hard and painful way.

Lastly, larger shoes would be needed (Twice as long and wide, at least, maybe like smaller and more aerodynamic snowshoes) to achieve balance, and the mini air jet idea for steering and propulsion. Mount a jet on the outside of each foot, and have the throttle be much like a bicycle brake, a cable leading from each foot to their corresponding hand. So squeeze the right one, the right foot will accelerate, making you turn left; both at the same time to go forward. Having it at a variable control will help prevent your feet from shooting out in front of you. And have a red button where the thumb could reach to reverse the thrust of air, stopping or slowing someone down.

The jets are better than props; I built a hovercraft last year, the size of a sheet of plywood, and tried powering it with two 22x8 props. When they failed, I made a jet engine out of a car turbocharger, mounted one on each side, and it worked very nice (Over 40 miles per hour in 10 seconds, for a craft weighing 200 lbs with driver). I weigh 110. The jets are safer and more efficient. You get a bun.
-- Shrimp, Aug 05 2006

(+) it sounds very fun! You could also do it where just one foot is magnetized and the other foot is used for pushing off and stopping. You push off and then stand on your other foot while you could drop that foot for turning or braking. Or something like bumper cars where your first burst of energy comes from an electric grid above....
-- ionsfromzion, Sep 24 2006

How about adding plastic brakes like rollerskates have? A nonmagnetic protrusion from the front of the shoe could make contact with the floor to push off. If angled correctly this wouldn't get in the way while skating but could be used for turning, starting and stopping.

BTW, I just read "Doofus of the Day". The line "Sorry. You'd fall in love and I'd fall asleep." (AOLuser the Fourth) made me laugh for longer than anything I've seen in a very long time. Thanks
-- stilgar, Nov 19 2006

Hi, I'm new around here. Great idea... I'm yet another magnet enthusiast. I think the spin tendency for those really powerful repelling magnets is slightly underestimated. Surely if they're powerful enough to lift ones weight they should comfortably spin and smash? In any case you'd be treading a very delicate equilibrium unless the skates were somehow horizontally restricted... which reduces it down to the original maglev tracks type idea? My two cents. Cheers.
-- da288, Dec 22 2006

Two words: Halbach Array. This arrangement of magnets (see links) focuses the magnetic energy to one face of the array, giving you more force per pound of magnet/electromagnet. To adapt the maglev train application for our proposed recreational use the magnets would be in the board/skate, while the floor would be made of a vast array of small unpowered coils. The motion of the skater across the surface induces current in the floor coils, which causes the opposing magnetic field. The faster you travel, the higher the repulsive force and the greater elevation you achieve (still, it will be less than an inch I imagine). The banked walls will be critical as mentioned by several others.
-- gardnertoo, Dec 22 2006

I don't think the shoes will have to be all that much wider than usual, if any. The size of the magnets needed in the shoes would be inverseley proportionate to the power of the magnets in the floor, which could be rather powerful.

I do think these skates will need to have significant ankle support to prevent them from flipping all the way over.

I also agree that padding the floor will be necessary. For one thing, if a magnet breaks, at least one piece reverses polarity, so if these floor magnets are permanent, you'll have some nasty stopping spots of that happens.

For another thing, the only significantly logical way to provide propulsion seems to be through actual pressure on the floor. Rubber instep extensions should probably do the trick for most purposes. Really, I don't see why we can't just use that, and put the big toe stops on the end like with regular skates.

For extreme power, you can get some pretty massive electromagnetic charges out of even a few batteries, and those might be easy to strap into the shoes somewhere... but if they go dead you'll be stuck to the floor.
-- ye_river_xiv, Dec 24 2006

Sounds like fun, but what happens when you lose your balance and fall on your face? You're sprawled out on the floor with feet in the air. As you bring your feet down... ker-CHUNK! The high-powered magnets in the floor and in your skates attract each other (since your skates are now upside down) and crush your poor little toes to mush.
-- ThinkTwice, Dec 25 2006

If the magnets are just on the skates, the force will push straight up. If you lean forward, per se, the magnets will continue to push your feet up, resulting in a faceplant.
-- croissantz, Mar 24 2007

didnt even read the description. insta-buned
-- lilsis, Mar 25 2007

wow Mags Skates! I think it could go back to more simple if you had a stable board that you stand on, and start swinging your arms like a windmill, then get your hips into it. What I see is a intense workout using centripital force as getting started, once you get going your happy and then just get techinal spins and turns down. Speaking of which, I'm totally down with this idea.
-- abadon, Nov 10 2007

bunned, I would pay good money for a go on something like this. To cool for school ;)
-- xxobot, Nov 10 2007

The magnets in the shoes would flip so that they could be attracted to the floor. This would mean that your ride would be intrinsically unstable. It might be possible to correct for this with constant changes in the field, except the boots would have to have a huge power source. Liquid nitrogen is actually pretty cheap, about .3$ / L . Maybe having a high temperature superconductor board and compressed air rockets wouldn't be too expensive after all. If you made the flux even enough and strong enough you could even fly! There would be a huge initial cost for making the floor, and boards, but I would pay good money to fly around...
-- Tetra, Nov 10 2007

I feel sorry for people with nose rings.
-- croissantz, Nov 13 2007

i just wonder how fast you could go if this idea was adapted for bobsled/luge/skeleton?
-- TIB, Nov 14 2007

random, halfbakery