Let’s get some science out of the way, in light of the California startup Hendo launching (what else) a Kickstarter to fund their Back to the Future-esque hoverboard: This thing will never, ever, ever, ever be practical or useful. Not even as a toy, beyond the neat little frictionless half pipe you see in the video on their site. That’s because the basic technology here, the same electromagnetic levitation used in high-speed trains, will never get us flying through city streets like we dreamed. It only works on magnetic, metal surfaces; it consumes a ton of power; it’s virtually impossible to keep stable, according to the laws of physics themselves. There are easier, cheaper, and readier ways to hover for fun. Just look at the explosion of quadrocopter drones, or Leonardo DiCaprio.
There is, of course, an easy way to generate an electromagnetic force field. All atoms repel each other slightly, because of their negatively charged electron shells. So if you get enough atoms together and pack them densely, they’ll be able to exert force against other matter… Except, that’s usually called “the ground.” And some wheels, in this case. The creator of the Hendo says that he doesn’t see it becoming a Mattel toy, either, rather that the magnetic lift technology could be used, say, as earthquake protection for houses. We can’t really see the day when entire houses can hover above their foundations, but hey, it could happen. At the very least, it’ll come in handy when the poors try to get inside my mansion.
All of which is not to be a buzzkill, but rather to say this: There’s a ton of really awesome technology happening right now! We’re going to Mars, bitches. We’re building Terminators (gulp). There’s plenty of jaw-dropping stuff, without crowd-funding a bundle of not-new innards powering our collective nostalgia trip for a 25-year-old film. Save the gawking for the ideas that matter—they’re even trippier than the movies said they’d be.