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MagLab Open House This Weekend

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By Tom Flanigan

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wfsu/local-wfsu-887496.mp3

Tallahassee, FL – Tallahassee's National High Magnetic Field Laboratory hosts its yearly open house this Saturday. There will be some new displays of magnetic magic this year that will amaze even veteran MagLab visitors.

It's almost the modern, high-tech equivalent of the old carnival midway show.

"Hurry, hurry, right this way! Step right up and see the fantastic levitating superconductor The superconductor floats and you can see how it's floating above the track It's going to do that as long as the temperature is cold. Once that superconductor starts to warm back up, it's going to fall back down."

That's not all, folks. Watch closely as the daring young scientist defies death by coming into physical contact with one-quarter of a million electrifying volts of power from the terrifying Tesla Coil.

"If I don't get too close, I can touch it with my hand."

You'll marvel at the incredible shrinking dollar. A coin is instantly squeezed to a fraction of its former self by a massive zap of high-voltage electricity.

"Two thousand volts three thousand four thousand it's going to make a pretty good pop, so don't let it catch you off guard five thousand six thousand and we're back to zero voltage, so it's safe to open the box up and see what we got. And there's our dollar, which is now still pretty hot, but it's down to the size of about a nickel now, and it still looks exactly as it did before. It's gotten a little bit thicker, but a lot smaller in diameter."

Those are just a few of the displays MagLab staff will be showing off. Visitors will also get to see some of the most powerful magnets on earth and why these devices may lead to discoveries that could change our lives.

While you're in the neighborhood, you should also check out the Center for Advanced Power Systems right down the block on Levy Avenue. The center's Greg Heller says there are plenty of things there to see and do.

"Included in there we're going to have hydrogen-powered model cars that people will be able to race. We have a station where they'll be able to build an electric motor that they can take home, as well as stations talking about wind turbines and traditional power systems and power grids, and some information about how superconductors and fuel cells are going to be able to improve these power systems and power grids that we have now and into the future."

Both the center and MagLab will be open for everyone on Saturday from 10am until 3pm.