Testing theoretical models of magnetic damping using an air track

Magnetic braking is a long-established application of Lenz?s law. A rigorous analysis of the laws governing this problem involves solving Maxwell?s equations in a time-dependent situation. Approximate models have been developed to describe different experimental results related to this phenomenon. In this paper we present a new method for the analysis of magnetic braking using a magnet fixed to the glider of an air track. The forces acting on the glider, a result of the eddy currents, can be easily observed and measured. As a consequence of the air track inclination, the glider accelerates at the beginning, although it asymptotically tends towards a uniform rectilinear movement characterized by a terminal speed. This speed depends on the interaction between the magnetic field and the conductivity properties of the air track. Compared with previous related approaches, in our experimental setup the magnet fixed to the glider produces a magnetic braking force which acts continuously, rather than over a short period of time. The experimental results satisfactorily concur with the theoretical models adapted to this configuration.