This is a small arrow shaped creature that can fly without wings. Can it use electromagnetism to fly? Or maybe something to do with ions? Or however ufos are theorized to work?

I'm not quite sure what technique I'm looking for here. What can I use to make it fly?

  • $\begingroup$ For it to fly it needs lift and thrust. To use ions or magnetic forces to float (I doubt you'll be able to use magnets to both get lift and thrust) it needs to create a magnetic force at least equal to its weight, which will be hard unless the place it lives is already a powerful giant magnet or polarized structure. Additionally, unless it doesn't want to land it'll need to be able to "turn off" the force. $\endgroup$ May 22, 2020 at 21:02
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    $\begingroup$ This has been discussed on the site before. Long story short: no. Longer story: it requires too much energy to be practical. $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    May 22, 2020 at 21:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Halfthawed I don't have the math in me to calculate how strong a magnetic field we need here, but please check my answer. $\endgroup$ May 22, 2020 at 21:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Renan I'd love too, but magnetism isn't my field of specialty. That said, there's nothing theoretically wrong with it, it's just wholly impractical. $\endgroup$
    – Halfthawed
    May 22, 2020 at 21:44
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    $\begingroup$ @Tantalus'touch. nice one, but the oxidant that you mention is a highly energetic one. Unlikely an viable organism can store it using pouches with organic walls, when the less energetic nitric acid eats up even nitrile gloves. I'd go up to hydrogen peroxide. $\endgroup$ May 23, 2020 at 1:43

2 Answers 2


Magnetic levitation is a topic of interest in physics. Within this noble and holy subject, there is a subtopic called Diamagnetic Levitation:

A substance that is diamagnetic repels a magnetic field. All materials have diamagnetic properties, but the effect is very weak, and is usually overcome by the object's paramagnetic or ferromagnetic properties, which act in the opposite manner. Any material in which the diamagnetic component is stronger will be repelled by a magnet.

And diamagnetic things are defined thus:

Diamagnetic materials are repelled by a magnetic field; an applied magnetic field creates an induced magnetic field in them in the opposite direction, causing a repulsive force. In contrast, paramagnetic and ferromagnetic materials are attracted by a magnetic field. Diamagnetism is a quantum mechanical effect that occurs in all materials; when it is the only contribution to the magnetism, the material is called diamagnetic.

So if your animal is made of diamagnetic materials, and the planet it lives on has a very intense magnetic field, then they can fly indefinitely.

You are probably wondering now what kinds of materials your animal could have in its organism, that would enable it to fly this way. Water is a good candidate, because:

  1. It is diamagnetic
  2. Most living things contain are made of water somehow[citation needed].

Do not trust my ramblings just because I am rambling them. Andre Geim and Sir Michael Berry have been given the most coveted award in Science, the Ig Nobel prize, for levitating a frog (and other animals) using a very strong magnetic field. You can see a video of the experiment here. The frog was mostly unharmed, had just a little fright the poor creature.

Now you may be asking yourself, "how does my creature land?" Well, it can either let go a lot of water, or it can make itself denser. Flying is about making the force lifting you as strong as the force pulling you down. By changing shape and letting go of ballast a creature might manage to control its flight.


You are thinking of ionic wind.


ionic flight

Your critter generates positive ions at the head and recaptures them at the tail. Air entrained by movement of the ions pushes up on wings to give lift.

This is a doable deal for a machine. How exactly a creature is going to ionize air is a trick. It would be easier in the water...

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    $\begingroup$ "In the electric eel, some 5,000 to 6,000 stacked electroplaques can make a shock up to 860 volts and up to 1 ampere of current." For the flyer above, I think currents would be very low. Each of the little specialized cells electroplaques generates a potential of about 100 millivolts per cell, for some novel creature perhaps the potential could be a couple of volts per cell with some different chemistry. Weight could still be a problem, the ionic wind drives are typically very light, since the thrust is low. $\endgroup$
    – UVphoton
    May 23, 2020 at 1:44
  • $\begingroup$ Does it have to have a certain shape to work? The creature I'm thinking about is basically Soarar from Nintendo Kirby games. $\endgroup$ May 29, 2020 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ Soarar looks good for this. Maybe with a long kite-like tail which he should have anyway for stability. Ions generated at nose, received at tail. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    May 29, 2020 at 19:17

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