And For My Next trick, I Will Levitate a Mouse

Weightlessness experiments using superconductors sweep mice off their feet.
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Unless you're David Blaine or a particularly adept yogi, levitation outside of bullet trains is likely beyond your ken. And even for the yogis, sometimes it's been more bouncing than flying, based on what these unblinking eyes have witnessed.

But now scientists at CalTech and the University of Missouri, Kansas City (go Kangaroos!), have managed to levitate mice. Well, they don't actually levitate mice — they levitate the water in the mice, and the rest of the critter has no choice but to rise, too. It's kind of like Reaganomics — a rising magnetic field lifts all vermin.

The field is created in what the academics, led by CalTech's Yuanming Liu, describe as a "newly built variable gravity simulator" using a superconducting magnet. As described in a nice little article by Charles Q. Choi for LiveScience, which is where we first saw this modern marvel described, the first mouse — or mouseling, since it was but 3 weeks old — was a bit "disoriented" by the experience and started scrambling, which induced a spin, which of course was even more disorienting.

Subsequent mice got a sedative, and eventually a little cage perfect for containing floating mice.

Much as Today in Mice thinks levitating mice is sufficiently cool enough not to worry about applications, some naysayers may ask why this is being done, especially since lesser species like frogs have already taken a spin, so to speak.

The answer lies in where the academics' research will appear — Advances in Space Science. It's not the levitation they're interested in; it's the weightlessness it simulates and how a mammal's body reacts to prolonged exposure to no gravity. As we've noted before, as planet Earth reaches to the stars, it won't be manned flight that blazes the path, it will be miced flight.

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