Director Robert Zemeckis cooked up a rumour to promote the 'Back To The Future' franchise in the nineties. He told kids that the hoverboard Marty McFly uses to escape was in fact real, but that parental groups had banned it for being too dangerous.
Twenty-five years later, Japanese car manufacturer Lexus has indulged that big kid fantasy. A new video shows that the company has built a real live hoverboard. Ross McGouran, a professional skateboarder, was given the board to ride in the film that shows him jumping over the roof of a Lexus – eventually, after a lot of nasty tumbles.
The hoverboard works by cooling a ceramic material with liquid nitrogen to -197 degrees Celsius so that they become superconductive.
These materials are then placed near a magnet as they cool so that they push back against the magnetic field and stay in that position relative to the magnet. This works as a kind of superconductor that maintains a set gap and will ‘levitate’ above a magnet as long as it is kept cold.
The steam pouring from the sides of McGouran’s board are not there for dramatic effect – they’re actually water vapour that is produced as the superconductor heats up in the sunshine.
And the park that he’s skating in is no ordinary park, it’s actually a magnetic track, hidden under the surface of the concrete, that the hoverboard follows.
But it sounds like the imaginary parental groups were onto something: even for a pro skater like McGouran, riding the hoverboard was challenging. "I started stateboarding when I was seven or eight, but this is like starting again from the beginning," Londoner McGouran says. "I was born again, then it was like, here’s a skateboard, learn it."
Why have Lexus gone to all this trouble? Not unexpectedly, it’s all part of an advertising campaign that makes 'the impossible, possible'.
People on Twitter have asked the obvious question: how many skateboarders out there drive a Lexus?
@Lexus unfortunate no pro skaters drive lexus's— jacob messex (@jacobmessex) July 22, 2015