A tiny strip of plastic uses electrical impulses to manipulate air and fly. That's right — this could be the prototype for an actual magic carpet. Well, perhaps it would be more like magic linoleum.

The floating material in question is a four-inch long piece of plastic, and it can only move at about one centimeter per second, and it needs to stay close to the ground, but the details don't matter. It can fly.

The sheet of plastic uses electrical waves to force air along itself. The air is trapped between the sheet of plastic and the ground, keeping the carpet afloat. As the waves move, the air is forced along the carpet from front to back. Forcing the air to move backwards shoots the carpet forwards, and the thing can fly along.

The concept seems basic, but with an easily movable thing like a sheet of plastic, the execution is tough. As the air moves along the carpet's length, it can bend and deform the plastic, causing the whole thing to crash. The engineers had to get the malleable substance to keep its flatness even while air flowed turbulently under it.

Via Discovery and Applied Physics Letters.