The flying saucers are coming

Pax Arcana

Remember those grainy film clips of the pre-Wright brothers era, when rakish daredevils piloted all sorts of wheeling, spinning, flapping contraptions that inevitably crashed down to earth like a dying quail?

Those were the days. Then the Wright brothers invented the modern airplane, and great leaps forward in avionics basically ceased. You put some wings on a tube and propel it forward.

Frankly I’m bored with the entire enterprise.

The good news is that University of Florida professor Subrata Roy says he’s discovered a breakthrough that could lead to the ultimate in lightweight air travel — the flying saucer:

The saucer will hover and propel itself using electrodes that cover its surface to ionize the surrounding air into plasma. Gases (such as air, which has an equal number of positive and negative charges) become plasma when energy (such as heat or electricity) causes some of the gas’s atoms to lose their negatively charged electrons, creating atoms with a positive charge, or positive ions, surrounded by the newly detached electrons. Using an onboard source of energy (such as a battery, ultracapacitor, solar panel or any combination thereof), the electrodes will send an electrical current into the plasma, causing the plasma to push against the neutral (noncharged) air surrounding the craft, theoretically generating enough force for liftoff and movement in different directions (depending on where on the craft’s surface you direct the electrical current).

Of course, this is all theory at this point. It will probably be years before a prototype hits the skies. Plus we have to figure out what to make the thing out of:

The biggest hurdle to building a WEAV large enough to carry passengers would be making the craft light, yet powerful enough to lift its cargo and energy source. Roy is not sure what kind of energy source he will use yet. He anticipates that the craft’s body will be made from a material that is an insulator such as ceramic, which is light and a good conductor of electricity.

Ceramic? Really?

20,000 years from now, anthrolopologists of the future will stumble across a crash site and wonder why these humans buried their dead in huge ass pots and smashed them to bits.

The World’s First Flying Saucer: Made Right Here on Earth [Scientific American]
Flying saucer to use air as fuel [Boing Boing]

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