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Magnetic Levitation Projects for Kids

mag lev trainIt’s not a bird, a plane or even Superman; it’s a bullet train. A maglev train levitates above the ground and is propelled at speeds of up to 300 miles per hour by powerful superconducting electromagnets. Experimenting with maglev models and other magnetic levitation projects is a good way for children to learn about magnetism and electricity.

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Floating Paper Clips

  • Magnetic fields attract metal such as iron and steel.

    Ferromagnetism is a natural force created by the motion of the electrons. In most elements the spinning electrons are paired with other electrons moving in opposite direction. Some metals, such as iron, have most of their electrons moving in the same direction. This creates a field of lines of magnetic force which can be demonstrated using iron filings and a permanent magnet. Metals which are attracted to a magnetic field are called ferromagnetic metals, according to Georgia State University.

    A way to demonstrate the attraction of metals to a magnetic field is to do the floating paper clip experiment. The student attaches a permanent magnet to a metal bracket mounted on a shelf or box. He or she will then tie a piece of string to a paper clip and place it underneath the magnet. The magnet causes the paper clip to rise up and float at the end of the string. The kids can test the strength of the magnetic attraction by pulling on the string to see how far away from the magnet the paper clip will float. Read more:

Why Can’t We Have a 300-MPH Floating Train Like Japan?


Japan’s Maglev train leaves the platform for a test run on an experimental track in Tsuru on May 11, 2010. US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood took a test ride on Japan’s super-fast magnetic train that day, but President Obama’s high-speed rail plans have largely fallen through since then.
Photo by Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images

A Japanese railway company this month unveiled a prototype for a commercial passenger train that it says can reach speeds of 310 miles per hour via magnetic levitation. According to theAsahi Shimbun, the plan is for the floating train to begin zipping commuters from Tokyo to Nagoya in 2027. At that speed it could make the 200-mile trip in under 45 minutes, less than half the time it takes today on Japan’s already-zippy bullet trains.

Maglev trains have long been the holy grail of ground transportation. Levitating above steel rails, Maglev trains need no wheels and have no friction with the track, resulting in an ultra-fast and ultra-quiet ride. So far they’re also very expensive. Counting an additional planned Tokyo-to-Osaka leg, the project is expected to cost upwards of $100 billion.

But if that sounds prohibitive, consider that the United States spends significantly more than that on highways in a single year. And while a highway might get you from Los Angeles to San Francisco in six hours if you’re lucky, a Maglev train like the one Japan’s building could theoretically do it in an hour and 15 minutes. In fact, California has been trying to build a Los Angeles-to-San Francisco high-speed rail line for some 30 years, but the fight for funding has been tooth-and-nail. The state is now slated to have a 220-mph train up and running by 2028—but that’s just a conventional bullet train, the kind Japan has had for decades. There were once plans for a California-Nevada maglev train, but they never left the station, and the money for planning them ended up being reallocated to a highway project.
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League of Railway Industry Women affiliates with CMA to offer seminar at Railway Interchange 2013

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The League of Railway Industry Women (LRIW) has affiliated with the Coordinated Mechanical Associations (CMA) to hold an educational seminar in conjunction with the CMA technical conference at Railway Interchange 2013, the Railway Supply Institute(RSI) announced yesterday.

Railway Interchange will be held Sept. 29-30 in Indianapolis and RSI assists with the CMA technical conference. Read More


Star your kids in their own toy train video or dvd

Caltrans blitz seeks more Amtrak riders


Ridership on some Amtrak lines has dipped, so Caltrans is trying to promote the trains.

Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez, The Chronicle

Just weeks after Gov. Jerry Brown‘s office quashed a $10 million public relations contract to promote the new Bay Bridge span, Caltrans is preparing to spend $9 million for a PR firm to sell people on riding trains.

“Advertising for Amtrak increases the number of riders and raises revenue for the state,” said Caltrans spokesman Matt Rocco

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The 9th China International Rail Transit Technology Exhibition


Sunday, May 5, 2013 - Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Shanghai World Expo Exhibition & Convention Center

CRTS CHINA is the only rail transit exhibition jointly approved by the Ministry of Science and Technology & the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of the People’s Republic of China . And it is the only comprehensive industry exhibition integrating railway and urban rail transit in China and also the only international rail transit exhibition based in China and focused on Asian procurement markets.With the full support of many industry associations both at home and abroad. Read More 

Governor Jerry Brown and The Little Engine That Could

Jan 24th, 2013 | Posted by

Governor Jerry Brown delivered his 11th State of the State address today in Sacramento, and it must have been his most triumphal speech yet. Brown’s first two terms as governor saw the state swing from crisis to crisis and had many asking if the California Dream was dead. Here in his third term, however, Brown has successfully pulled the state from its worst crisis yet. The state is on a very positive track, with a brighter future than probably any other state in the union, and Brown took the occasion to celebrate how “California has confounded its critics.”

Included in that triumph was a strong defense of the high speed rail project. You can see a clip of those remarks below, which includes an extemporaneous discussion of a beloved children’s book that the governor saw as a metaphor for the high speed rail project: Read More

In Brown’s telling, the HSR project is “The Little Engine That Could” – working hard to get over the mountain. And after 30 years of working on the HSR project, it’s now over the mountain with construction beginning on its first segment later this year.