Science: Trains That Can Levitate

One item is on everyone's list of potential benefits of high-temperature super-conductors: maglevs, or magnetically levitated superfast trains. It is a safe prediction, since the new materials give promise of electromagnets far more powerful and economical than those in use today. And it is the electromagnet that lifts and propels existing maglevs in Japan, West Germany and Britain.

As long ago as 1979 an unmanned Japan Railways Group prototype fitted with low-temperature superconducting electromagnets hit 321 m.p.h. on a test track; a version carrying three passengers made it to 249 m.p.h. earlier this year. That beats any conventional rival, including Japan's...

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