Cover: Rising Force: The Magic of Magnetic Levitation, from Harvard University PressCover: Rising Force in HARDCOVER

Rising Force

The Magic of Magnetic Levitation

Add to Cart

Product Details


$27.95 • £22.95 • €25.00

ISBN 9780674055353

Publication Date: 05/30/2011


288 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

33 halftones, 5 line illustrations


Further proof that physics can be fun… Think of Peter Pan, David Copperfield, and Harry Potter. Livingston, a physicist and lecturer at MIT who writes songs about physics, looks at the historical fascination with levitation, both real and fake, and explores the use of magnetic forces to overcome gravity and friction in flying frogs, implanted heart pumps, and high-speed trains.—Jan Gardner, The Boston Globe

No, MIT professor Livingston writes, the magnetically levitated island in Gulliver’s Travels (or its homage in Avatar) is not possible… But while Jonathan Swift’s version of levitation is science fiction, it and other cultural examples dot this accessible illustration of the physics that allow for real-life wonders like maglev trains.Discover

If you thought magnetic levitation was mostly about flying trains, then read Rising Force. Former physicist at GE and lecturer at MIT, James D. Livingston can barely conceal his excitement, and dry sense of humor, as he takes his readers on a whistle-stop tour of everything ‘maglev.’—Rebecca Pool, Engineering & Technology

Giving a new meaning to literary suspense, physicist James Livingston devotes his book to the science of magnetic levitation. From laboratory demonstrations of floating magnets, flying frogs and suspended sumo wrestlers to the realities of urban maglev trains, he uncovers humanity’s fascination with the magic of defying gravity, as well as the physics of magnetic fields and superconductivity.Nature

I can easily recommend this title. It’s a good insight into an aspect of much of modern technology, with enough surrounding material to keep it entertaining to read.—Matt Chorley, Popular Science

General science and technology buffs will find this accessible book fascinating and might be tempted to try a little levitation themselves.Publishers Weekly

This book is an extensive compendium of everything you might want to know about levitation of things both animate and inanimate. James Livingston is a master of this genre in that he presents quite difficult concepts with humor, history, and detail while always maintaining technical accuracy.—Fred Fickett, Chief, NIST Magnetic Technology Division (Ret.)

A well-written, factual account of magnetic levitation and accompanying lore over the ages, Rising Force is a welcome addition to Livingston’s previous books on magnetics.—Ralph Hollis, Research Professor, The Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon University

Awards & Accolades

  • A Physics World Book of the Year, 2011
Common Reads: First-Year Experience [picture of open book]

Recent News

From Our Blog

Jacket: From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America, by Elizabeth Hinton, from Harvard University Press

Crime War Zones

As the nation is gripped in the throes of large-scale protests and there are calls for justice in the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, as well as for an end to systemic racism and police brutality, this excerpt from Elizabeth Hinton’s From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America details how the War on Crime, begun in the ’60s, focused mainly on urban crime and unfairly targeted A

‘manifold glories of classical Greek and Latin’

The digital Loeb Classical Library ( extends the founding mission of James Loeb with an interconnected, fully searchable, perpetually growing virtual library of all that is important in Greek and Latin literature.