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Harnessing magnetic levitation to analyze what we eat

Sometimes a study's science fiction factor is so strong it can't be ignored. Such is the case with findings published in the latest issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry detailing scientists' development of a sensor that uses magnetic levitation to measure the density of food and beverages.

Most commonly associated with high-speed, fossil-fuel free transport such as maglev trains, magnetic levitation uses magnetic fields to suspend an object. Researchers constructed an ice-cube size sensor based on the same technology and used it to determine the salt content of different water samples and the relative fat content in different kinds of milk, cheese and peanut butter. According to an entry in Shots:

The sensor is a fluid-filled container with magnets at each end. It allows tiny samples of solids or liquids to be placed inside. The distance they migrate through the fluid allows us to measure their density...

...There are other methods of measuring the density of food products already in use, but many are large, expensive, and require highly-specialized technicians to interpret the results, the study says.

This one was relatively easy to read - the higher in fat the milk or cheese, the higher the materials levitated toward the top magnet, according to the study.

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