Quantum levitation realizes humanity's age-old dream of floating supercooled Wipe Out RC cars

Researchers at the Japan Institute of Technology have a killer demo for their controlled quantum levitation technology: they outfitted little slot-car-style RC cars with liquid nitrogen tanks and sent them whizzing around a track modelled on the classic video game Wipe Out.

Update: Many commenters believe that this is faked. They can tell by the pixels apparently. And the physics. It's still awful fun to watch.

Controlled Quantum Levitation on a Wipe'Out Track (via JWZ)



  1. Google can’t find anything about a Japan Institute of Science and Technology outside of this video, unless someone at the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology made a mistake.

    Calling viral marketing for a new Wipeout game.

  2. I really really hope you’re wrong. Surely they’d spell WipeOut correctly if that were the case?

  3. Aye, ’tis fake. Watch the video agains and pay attention to the vapour trails. At one point they pass through the walls of the track…

    Nicely done fake though.

    1. actually that makes me think it’s a fan-made thing, not something Sony actually did- because Sony would have lawyers who would know that “no copyright intended” is meaningless. http://waxy.org/2011/12/no_copyright_intended/

        1. Yes, that’s what I mean. The fact that they say “no copyright intended” and “all rights reserved belong to…” makes me think it’s a clueless fan of Sony and SCE who made a derivative work and is afraid that Sony or SCE will sue them. This is a common thing clueless fans say on Youtube, which is explained in my link.

          Sony or SCE Studio Liverpool would use a more correct phrasing in their copyright notice.

  4. Fake or not I like it.

    Now if only Sony would pull it’s head from it’s rear and release me some WipeOut on PC….   Oh how I miss playing XL/2097 even if it was a steaming pile of broken timing code.

  5. While the technology behind it (Electromagnets and quantum levitation) is real, this video is entirely fake. If the shot of the cars being locked into place wasn’t enough (I mean, really? That’s not bluescreened on?), the fake soft shadowing on the track, combined with the vapour trails being FAR too dense, passing through the walls of the track, and coming detatched from the cars at points, show this is quite the shoddy job of CGI. Sorry to burst your bubble.

  6. Wipeout has been around since 1995. Using this kind of viral marketing at this point is just disappointing. Save the viral bullshit for new franchise launches.

  7. I don’t know…  I can’t seem to find any source of liquid nitrogen in tiny little cylinders that look suspiciously like paintball CO2 cylinders.  Everything I’ve been able to surf up seems to show a minimum size of a liter or two, and most of those are heavily insulated.  I also question the ability of those tiny cars to carry a tank large enough to hold enough nitrogen to get very far.  There also doesn’t seem to be any electrical connection to the track that I can see anywhere on the video, unless they’ve drilled up through the table and run it into the bottom somewhere.  In the diagram, it labels the wires running the length of the track as “superconductors”.  Unless I slept through it, nobody has developed room-temperature superconductors yet, so the track itself would have to be cooled as well, and I see no facility for doing that, let alone the problem of sealing all of the joints between the sections of track.  I’m going to call shenanigans unless better proof is provided.  I hate it when people do stuff like this, because the general public is confused enough about science and technology and what is and _isn’t_ possible right now without people making things up and posting them as fact.

    1. ostensibly, if you run a lab, you have a machine that puts it IN them for you.

      Not that this whole thing would work, but that’s how that part would.

  8. Just as well, Xmas has come and gone.

    But golly; vapor trails? This would be so much cooler than the Hot Wheels™ I had when they first came out.

    Which reminds me, I hope my nephew still has them. Those puppies are worth some coin.

  9. Even though in this case I tend to agree and probably would also say that this might be fake, I have this fantasy where people who view something and then, without any indication towards what brought them to this conclusion, just write “FAKE” and leave it at that are punched in the teeth by a vindictive fist from cyberspace.

    Seriously, it’s rude. It’s like running into a concert, yelling “SUCKS!” and then running out again like some deranged vindictive toddler. I don’t expect a full scientific review, but at least write “I think this is fake because I don’t think quantum levitation works that way, they should wobble.”Put some effort into this, ferchritsakes.

    There. Thanks to the Internet, I’ve become a cantankerous old man before hitting thirty. I’ll go sit on my porch and yell at teenagers now.

    1. What’s rude is thinking that other people enjoy that moment when something that appears real and is presented as real, totally isn’t. You might. It offends me.

  10. Now I want to go home and play WipEout. 

    Does anyone know any tricks to making old PS1 games look less blurry on 48″ HDTV’s? 

  11. It’s Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, not Japan Institute of Science and Technology. Also, this would probably be on the JAIST website if it was real, or on NewScientist, Science…

    Also, just looking at the setup is weird. The paintball CO2 canister, the Joss Whedon Firefly camera technique, the soundtrack.

    Disappointingly fake.

  12. Seems there’s two reactions to this – “Hey, its pretty cool, who cares if its fake?” and of course the more heavy-handed “FAKE. LAME.”

    What annoys me about this video is it purports itself to be something it isn’t. Now, I could go into the whole vapor-trail thing, (hey – think that cooler-than-ambient-air-trail coming out the back wouldn’t drift DOWN on the banked turns?) but honestly — its all pretty obvious what is going on here.

    I like the idea of teleportation, that is why Portal2, Star Trek and other things appeal to me. But I sure wouldn’t appreciate someone faking a lab ‘setup’ and trying to dupe me into believing they actually had achieved it.

    That’s all. I just can’t stand shoddy liars. The effect is nice to watch, but I don’t admire the intent behind it.

    1. I agree it’s annoying to get your hopes up that something cool is real and then find out it’s just a fake, but in this case an effect a lot like this has actually been achieved, just not with toy cars (and with the motion not controlled by remote). See this video which a few people already posted–my guess is that the fake video was inspired by this real one, since it was a pretty popular video that got posted on a lot of blogs and such back in October.

  13. Holly shit the “future” actually happened in a small way! While this video looks a little to “clean” to avoid scrutiny what they are doing has be demonstrated in part before. Google “quantum locking”.
    Also where my Qirex mother fucker!

  14. Fake and unsafe.  Try putting some LN2 in a steel bottle, you’ll get unexpected shrapnel in places you won’t enjoy.   Also, it would be a bit believable if it took 20sec of spewing vapor before the superconductor cars cooled down.   And no, there’s no such thing as “quantum locking” or levitation, that’s some marketer’s hype wording to keep you from googling to find it was invented ten years back, not in 2011.  It’s called superconductive flux-pinning, and all type-II superconductors do it.

    More impressive: superconductor hoops http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0Hb59mFuCo

  15. Come on Boing Boing.  “Quantum levitation” is a nonsense term.   This is just goofy buzzword speak for magnetic flux pinning.  It’s not even a particularly apt term.  Are we going to see videos about magic bracelets that do stuff with ionic energy next?

    1. “Magnetic flux pinning” will not win our hearts and minds. Was that phrase concocted by the same brain-trust that thought that a Photoshop-manqué called “The GIMP” would win over America’s Heartland?

      While I do appreciate the use of the letter “x”, “Quantum levitation” sounds much cooler. I’d vote for it in the Republican Primaries on that basis alone.

  16. Huh. It actually had me fooled.  The physics is pretty realistic – see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ws6AAhTw7RA and skip to 1 minute in to see a genuine demo of the phenomenon, which behaves very similarly.

    But on closer inspection those pixels are pretty suspect – in particular the way the vapour trails overlap the track in the very last shot after it cuts to black and cuts back again seems hard to explain unless they’re CG’d in.  But then why did they go to all the trouble when it wouldn’t have been that hard to build a real one?

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