The "magic" in this plastic flying carpet is pure technology, nothing wizardly or genie-liscious about it. Shove off Aladdin, move over Solomon, technology is catching up with fantasy, the BBC reports.
The prototype flying carpet is described in the journal Applied Physics Letters: "We use integrated piezoelectric actuators and sensors to demonstrate the propulsive force produced by controllable transverse traveling waves in a thin plastic sheet suspended in air above a flat surface, thus confirming the physical basis for a 'flying' carpet near a horizontal surface. Experiments are conducted to determine the dependence of the force on the height above the ground and the amplitude of the traveling wave, which qualitatively confirm previous theoretical predictions."
In plain English, "We've created a flying carpet! Don't stand on it yet please, you'll break it. Give it a few years -- or decades."
So don't get too excited about the prospect of zipping around on your own private magic flying carpet or Back To The Future II style hoverboard quite yet. The prototype is flimsy, connected to large batteries and moves just centimeters per second.
The device's creator, Princeton graduate student Noah Jafferis tells the BBC he is "working on a solar-powered upgrade that could freely fly over large distances." Because there are no moving components in the flying carpet, Jafferis believes this technology has an edge over competing technologies like hovercraft, prop planes and jets.
Though existing materials do not yet allow feasible use by human riders, Mars exploration rovers using this technology could be a possibility.