World record in Membach: 4-gramme sphere levitates for 8081 days
Monday, 18 September 2017
A sphere weighing four grammes has been levitating for 8081 days (22 years and 45 days) in the Royal Observatory of Belgium’s Membach underground laboratory, near Eupen, the Observatory announced on Monday, describing this as a double world record – in physics and gravimetry. The superconducting gravimeter, a device for measuring gravity, has been measuring gravitational variations for the longest recorded time at a single location, the Observatory disclosed. It has also registered the longest period that an artifact has been levitating in a magnetic field using super-conduction, it said.
The magnetic field field was created in 1995 by injecting currents into superconducting coils, causing the sphere to levitate. The currents have never been dissipated since then.
These measurements are important because they give access to long-term variations in gravity, which are still little known. These variations are caused by slow tectonic movements or climate change. They are also important for the study of the water cycle that influences gravity.