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Can humans levitate?

The answer is a qualified yes, but scientists aren’t sure it would work for more than about 2 cm on the Earth’s surface .

A group of University of Iowa researchers have determined that it is possible that humans can levitate at very low speeds, but the current results don’t prove it.

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“The current study does not prove a positive role for these ‘super humans’ in levitation,” researcher Daniel M. Brown of the UI said in a news release. “However, it does demonstrate that the human body may have both mechanisms of weight-bearing motion and self-maintaining, but not instantaneous, gravity-induced gravity in a controlled, lab environment.”

Brown and his colleagues tested their ideas on a human in a centrifuge, a machine that mimics gravity on Earth’s surface.

A team from Purdue University measured the force the human body exerted as it passed through a set of two metal bars, with one bar at the lower limit of Earth’s gravity, and the other at the upper limit, in their experiments. The bar at the lower limit of gravity weighs just 3 tons; the bar at the upper limit weighs 25 tons. The researchers also used a robotic arm to try and control the human’s body.

As the researchers wrote in their study, “the researchers did not find any evidence that the human became trapped within the bars or that it exhibited any degree of inertial force acceleration (i.e., that it suddenly dropped suddenly to a certain weight).”

For their experiments, Brown and his colleagues used two centrifuges at an altitude of 3,300 feet (700 meters).

What is needed, according to Brown’s team, is “one or more strong external forces that would overcome the gravitational pull of the Earth, and that mechanism must allow gravity in the region close to the surface on both sides of the bar.” The idea doesn’t involve the use of a device to move the human’s body. Researchers believe that, for a human to levitate on Earth, at least two things would have to happen — first, gravity would have to be very, very weak or zero in some areas on Earth and second, the bar would have to be strong enough to withstand these huge forces and maintain the human’s weight.

The idea wouldn’t work for “tall” creatures and people with “super human strength, muscle power or other abilities,” Brown’s research team wrote in their paper, which was published in the May 2015 issue of the journal Science