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Flying Frogs and Sumo Wrestlers


This was the only physics award to make it into our top ten but it deserves its place, because it wasn’t just eyebrows that were raised by André Geim and Sir Michael Berry.

Let’s face it; if you’re going to arse around in a science lab, you really want to break the mould and push the boundaries a little. This is precisely what the English/Dutch combo did when they started playing around with magnets.

Managing to levitate a frog using magnets is pretty cool in itself. In fact some people would say that they were worthy of an award for that alone. However, start floating a tubby Japanese wrestler around the room and we are talking some serious magnetic forces at work.

So why did they do it? Who cares, there’s a big sumo dude floating in the air. Ok, ok so he was actually standing on a magnetic disk levitating above a superconductor but he was still floating.

Geim suggested that the magnets could be used to levitate toilet seats in the future but that seems a backward step from sumo wrestlers. Maybe they peaked too early.

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14 Aug 2011
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