How cool does that sound? Well, sadly, it isn’t. In our last lab session today, our only task – other than The Dreaded Locker Inspection, of course, but I’ll have to post about that one separately now because I’m tired – was to make a magnet hover over a disk we had made ourselves on Monday. Another cool-sounding experiment, making our very own superconductors, wouldn’t you say? Again, not so much. The superconducting disks we made were matte black and smaller than a 1p coin. And in today’s test, we were supposed to place it on top of a 10p coin (as if to rub it in, I know, but if you think about it, there was a point to it), pour liquid nitrogen over it and then drop a magnet onto it to see if it “levitated”.
Yet more depressing things about this experiment: the magnet was tiny, and most closely resembled a rodent dropping; the first time round, It Didn’t Effing Work; the second time, it worked, but I didn’t think it had. It had to be pointed out with tiny tweezers that what I had been overlooking was, in fact, the correct outcome of the experiment. In other words, a miniscule mouse dropping limply twitching atop a charred (and now grotesque and unrecognisable) coin-alike. And to think I came in specially. Three hours of travelling for that. Through the half-term Screaming Kidathon. Such fun.
One positive to note, though: the liquid nitrogen did not disappoint. I was mesmerised by the droplets that seemed to move of their own accord when I – ahem – accidentally spilt them on the bench. The demonstrator confirmed that one day, liquid nitrogen will lose its appeal and become Just Another Chemical – but, probably, not any time soon. Which was comforting to hear.