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Scientists develop 'magic carpet' technology

A prototype that imitates the enchanting flying motion of a magic carpet has been developed by physicists at Princeton. Hop on.

A working 'flying carpet' of electrified plastic has been invented by scientists at Princeton University, giving us a whole new world of future travel to think about. Let's take you wonder by wonder.

The prototype imitates a magic rug by lifting sheets of conductive plastic with waves of electrical current. The sheets' rippling then controls thin pockets of air and propels itself forwards and backwards.

We wouldn't advise rushing out to get your gold turban and curly shoes just yet. Hovering around at a not so ground breaking centimetre per second, the 'flying carpet' is actually a 10cm sheet of transparent paper-thin plastic. A slight letdown, we know, as images of swooping around like Aladdin disappointingly fade into the ether.

It might not be the hoverboard we've always wanted, but we're not disillusioned yet, as the speed of the rippling piece of floating plastic could soon be upped to one metre per second.

The prototype's creator Noah Jafferis was given a new fantastic point of view by a mathematical paper he read while studying his PhD. Giving up on more conventional science projects, such as printing electronic circuits with nano-inks, he has instead spent the last two years trying to make plastic fly.

All the hard work seems to have paid off, despite the inventor doggedly insisting that inverted commas should be used when associating the word 'flying' to his prototype, as the machine's movement resembles that of a hovercraft more than an aeroplane. Still, it's pretty impressive considering the plastic can be moved in various directions while floating in air.

If you would like to read the complex arithmetic behind the invention, see the Applied Physics Letters here. Though you will have to pay the crazy scientists some monies -- hopefully used to fund other completely arbitrary ventures in the name of technology -- before you can see those unbelievable sights. Watch this video from the BBC and tell us about your indescribable feelings in the comments section below.