Stump the Scientist: Mercury in a closed sphere
Question posted by Edison’s Desk reader John Blevins:
This may border on science fiction more so than fact. I do have to ask though. A recent TV show I came across was discussing mercury in a closed sphere. Specifically, how when it was spun lift was produced electrically. How? Why? Curious huh?
It is possible to float or “levitate” a drop of mercury. I can think of more than one way. If you cool mercury to the very cold temperature of around 3 degrees centigrade above absolute zero, it becomes a superconductor, and superconductors can be levitated by a magnetic field. The magnetic field produces a force to counterbalance gravity. It is also probably possible (at normal room temperatures) to put an electric charge onto the mercury, and then one might levitate it by applying an electric field with charged electrodes, and this field could attract the mercury ball upward with just the right amount of force to counterbalance gravity.