Levitron: Playing with Magnetic Levitation

The Levitron is a toy that demonstrates interesting magnetic field properties.  In order to levitate, the device combines the mechanics of angular momentum and electromagnetic physics with out-of-this-world results!  We studied the Levitron’s interesting properties for a final project in 6.163 -- Strobe Project Laboratory with the support of Professors Belcher and Bales.  Using high speed video equipment, we looked at the way that the top’s angular frequency decays over time, and we calculated the cutoff frequency at which the system loses stability and the top falls to the ground.  Please explore this site further to learn how to use the Levitron, to get an overview of the physics involved, and to view the high speed videos that we used to analyze the Levitron’s motion.

Exploring the Levitron