We’ve been teased plenty by the promise of a hoverboard like the one Marty McFly rides in “Back to the Future Part II.” There was that Lexus announcement and the release of the Hendo Hover, but both of those need special surfaces to work. Then, just last week, a company called Arca Space Corporation released a hoverboard that could work on lots of different surfaces, but costs $19,900 (about £13,520, AU$27,690).
Who knew getting your own working hoverboard could be as simple and affordable as grabbing some dry ice and wood? The crazy experimenter who runs the YouTube channel TheBackyardScientist, that’s who.
He released a video last week in which he demonstrates that you don’t need a special magnetic surface or batteries that just might burst into flames to get your hovering on (though don’t expect to get swooping through the air like Marty McFly). All you need is a wooden board with a rim around the edge, some Styrofoam and chunks of dry ice. As the ice turns from solid to gas through a process called sublimation, it creates a cushion of vapor on which the contraption can glide.
“I would consider this a real hoverboard because the dry ice is not in contact with the surface,” the Backyard Scientist says in the video’s description. “There is actually a very thin layer of gas between the two surfaces.”
The Backyard Scientist himself told CNET’s Crave blog that he thought the makeshift hoverboard floated just about one-tenth a millimeter above the floor.
It doesn’t look like you have much control on the gizmo, but it does look like a really good way to have some fun with science — something the Backyard Scientist knows a lot about as evidenced by videos in which he poured molten aluminum into a lava lamp, created a flamethrower that shot fire in multiple colors and used cornstarch to blow fireballs from his mouth.
While many of those projects are best served with the “don’t try this at home” label, the hoverboard seems relatively safe. Just don’t touch the ice like he does in the video. That’s a good way to get instant frostbite. Oh, and based on the number of falls recorded, you might also want to look into a helmet and some pads.