The flying carpet is something that is featured in fairy tales and cartoons. A researcher has made a real flying carpet though from a sheet of conductive plastic. The researcher that made the creation is Noah Jafferis and the idea came to him after reading a mathematical paper after he received his PhD from Princeton.
The little sheet of conductive plastic measures 4-inches and is driven by the so-called "ripple power" waves created from an electrical current driving little pockets of air underneath. The air pushes the flying carpet along at a pace of a centimeter per second. The researcher thinks that the speed can be increased to as much as a meter per second in the future.
One thing that the researchers had to focus on was a way to control the behavior of the sheet as it deformed at high frequencies, which was eventually overcome. The team says that the sheet has more in common with hovercraft than an airplane since it has to keep close to the ground. This is because the source of the thrust to move the aircraft forward comes from the air bouncing back from the carpet to the ground.
[via BBC News]