My New Obsession: Maglev Trains

After Morse Code Radios (which I managed to build, btw, though its functioning is slightly faulty. But, hey! Nobody is perfect!), I’m stanning Maglev Trains. #They’resocoolIwishIlivedinShanghaisoIcanliveinoneofthosebeastsforeverhappilyeverafter. And now I sound nuts (BTW that no space sentence was deliberate on my part so that you’ll understand the intensity of this latest obsession of mine). 

First of all, Maglev Trains are these high-speed trains (emphasis on “High Speed”. We’re talking about over 300 mph here) that literally float on their tracks. Nope. Not kidding you. They really do float. That’s because of this electromagnetic field that is created by the electric coils on the track… it causes the train to move forward. Think of it like repulsions between two oppositely-charged magnets. The train basically moves due to Magnetic Levitations. This means no fossil fuels either. #Respect #Love #Envy

I first heard of the Maglev Trains in a Nat Geo Feature about Engineering Marvels. I saw the video of the train suspended over the track by just a few inches. And I still don’t have any words to describe that moment. Period.

But the ubiquitous curiosity of the 17-year-old me led me to my Physics Sir, Prof KD who was more than happy to point out that the basic principle that makes these trains run. He was talking about the coil-and-magnet experiment that is a part of Lenz’s Law of Electromagnetic Induction. The Law states that the polarity of induced emf is such that it tends to produce a current which opposes the change in magnetic flux that produced it.  Too wordy?

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Well, just think of a coil and magnet that is moving towards one face of said coil with its’ North Pole up front. The Magnetic flux of the coil increases and current, though feeble, is induced in such a direction that it opposes the magnet coming any closer i.e the current repels the magnet by producing current in an anti-clockwise direction and starts acting like a North Pole. And when the magnet tries to move away, the coil doesn’t want it to go away either, so the current changes to clockwise direction and begins to act like South Pole to attract it. So, put simply, the coil is commitment-phobic. It doesn’t want the magnet to leave or come to it.

This is something that every High School Senior who ever took AP Physics will have an idea about. But who knew that this simple law’s consequences will be so far-reaching!

That day, I walked off feeling like I discovered something new. But today, I have new doubts: what happens if an external magnet is so strong that it disrupts the magnetic flux of the propulsion coils fixed to the track? Won’t that cause the train to crash? And what are the Safety Measures to be followed in case of a crash?

To get a proper idea I’ll have to ask someone who knows all about the trains, like Prof KD. Or I’ll have to experience the journey myself #Whydoesn’tmycountryhaveaMaglevtoo *cries*

Unfortunately, I moved to a new School this year and have sort of lost contact with Prof KD. But the next time we’ll be meeting, which is in the near future, he’d better be prepared for my list of Maglev questions.

But, what would I not do to take one ride on that train?! Maybe I should start with buying a plane ticket to Shanghai?! #goals

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