A 10-year-old Inglewood boy has drawn up plans for a hoverboard, inspired not by Back to the Future II re-runs but a quantum levitation exhibit at Scitech.
After getting home and sketching out detailed schematics, Brandon Boylen wrote to Scitech asking where he could find the right materials (20 super-strong magnets, a metre-long ceramic board and two litres of liquid nitrogen) and an estimate of how much it’d cost his folks.
A WWE fan and long-time John Cena supporter, Brandon reckons he can achieve lift by cooling the surface, because magnetic fields and superconductors repel each other.
He notes the technology is “not ideal for getting away from people”—something Marty McFly learned—and is best to use in winter.
When the folk from Scitech received Brandon’s letter they knew they had a special mind to nurture: they invited the lad down for a behind-the-scenes tour to chat about planning, prototyping and building projects at home.
“There’s nothing better than hearing about visitors who have been so inspired on their Scitech trip that they take the science, innovation and fun they learnt here straight home with them,” says Scitech’s Rachael Hughes.
While commercial hoverboard technology is probably a few years off, the team did give Brandon a sneak peek behind the scenes of how things work and a look at the Astronauts exhibit more than six months ahead of the rest of us.
Brandon’s going to keep working on his prototype (he’s also drawing up plans for a simpler version, powered by fans instead of quantum levitation) but like a young Nikola Tesla he prefers to toil in secret than chat about his works.
“I haven’t told many of my friends because of the first few comments I got from them,” he says.
“I told them my idea and they said it wasn’t going to work. That just made me want to do it more.”
by DAVID BELL