How Everything Works
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Question 1013

What would be a legitimate form of propulsion for magnetic trains? — DS, Kenton, OH and MB, Willows, CA
The most sensible propulsion system for a magnetically levitated train would be a linear electric motor. This motor would consist of electromagnets on the train and electromagnets on the track. By turning these electromagnets on and off at carefully chosen moments, they can be used to pull or push the train forward for propulsion or backward for breaking. The timing is important because, for propulsion, the magnet on the train must always be attracted toward the track magnet in front of it and repelled by the track magnet behind it. For breaking, this relationship must be reversed.

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