Saturday, July 12, 2008

The World's First Flying Saucer: Made Right Here on Earth

I just love the subtle jab Scientific American took at people who think UFOs are controlled by extraterrestrials with the title of this article.

Subrata Roy, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Florida, is currently working on plans to build a flying machine that uses electrodes on its surface to ionize the air around it, turning the air into plasma. The positively charged plasma would then repel the neutrally charged air around it, theoretically creating enough force to lift the craft of the ground. Roy plans to have a model of the craft ready to demonstrate his claims within the next year.

"At six inches (15.2 centimeters) in diameter, the device, which Roy calls a 'wingless electromagnetic air vehicle"'(WEAV), will truly be a flying saucer. Theoretically, Roy says, the flying saucer can be as large as anyone wants to build it, because the design gives the aircraft balance and stability. In other words, this type of aircraft could someday be built large enough to ferry around people. But, Roy says, 'we need to walk before we can run, so we're starting small.'"

"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."

"Roy has been working with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, since 2001 to study how plasma could be used to control the flow of air—pushing air in different directions—and thereby the vehicle's movements. "

"At this early stage, and without a clear decision on how the craft will be powered, Roy says it is unclear how much a WEAV might cost to build and operate. Still, he is optimistic. 'All of the materials needed to make this aircraft currently exist,' he says, 'and plasma is the most abundant form of matter in the universe. If we can somehow tap into that in the future we should be able to fly anywhere.'"

You see, this kind of thing is just cool. I simply do not understand why some people need to perpetuate the myth of alien-controlled UFOs when the reality of science is so much more interesting.

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