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A Magnetic Linear Accelerator

A Magnetic Linear Accelerator

This very simple toy uses a magnetic chain reaction to launch a steel marble at a target at high speed. The toy is very simple to build, going together in minutes, and is very simple to understand and explain, and yet fascinating to watch and to use.
Total six frames of video showing the gauss rifle in action. Each frame shows 1/30th of a second. In the first frame, a steel ball starts rolling towards a magnet taped to a wooden ruler. In the second frame, a second ball can be seen speeding between the rightmost two magnets. By the third frame, the accelerator has sped up so much that the ball that is seen leaving the left side of the device is just a blur as it smashes into the target. One ball, starting at rest, has caused another ball to leave the device at a very high speed.


The materials are simple. We need a wooden ruler that has a groove in the top in which a steel ball can roll easily. Any piece of wood or aluminum or brass with a groove will work. We chose the ruler because they are easy to find around the house or at school or at a local stationery store.

We need some sticky tape. Again, almost any kind will do. Here we use Scotch brand transparent tape, but vinyl electrical tape works just as well.

We need four magnets. Most any type will do, but the stronger the magnets are, the faster the balls will go. Here we use the super strong gold-plated neodymium-iron-boron magnets we have made available in our catalog for the other projects. They work great.

We will also need nine steel balls, with a diameter that is a close match to the height of the magnets. We use 5/8 inch diameter nickel plated steel balls from our catalog.

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