Floating Coffee Table

This is an awesome coffee table by enginartists RockPaperRobot. This is classic physics at play, as the magnetized walnut cubes try to spread apart while the whisker-thin cables between the blocks keeps them tethered together. The effect is very cool, but I do wonder how much load this thing can take. Can you reasonably expect to set a glass on this thing with it acting uncontrollably? And I don’t know if this is a real possibility given the nature of magnets, but what about the magnetic force dissipating over time and the entire system become unbalanced? This seems like something that must be highly tuned. I bet long-term quality issues are a nightmare! Very cool idea, though.


2 thoughts on “Floating Coffee Table

  • May 2, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    Permanent magnets, made properly with good quality materials (ferrous, rare-earth, etc) will hold their magnetic properties unchanged indefinitely, unless exposed to extreme temperatures. How much load the cubes can take is, of course, a function of how strong the magnets are, as is the magnetic field around the cubes. I’m sure the cubes can be made to take surprisingly high loads, but the resulting magnetic fields might fry the nearest cell phone or hard drive, so that would be a design trade. I wonder though, if induction coils were wrapped around some of the cables, enough power could be captured to charge a cell phone overnight.

  • May 7, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Good thoughts. I’m with you on the magnetic field required possibly being enough to fry (or, with induction, charge) a cell phone. I still think this is an cool looking, but unstable, nightmare to use.

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