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Last month, a team of researchers led by MIT's Steven Barrett demonstrated the first heavier-than-air craft to fly without moving parts. Their plane creates thrust by using electrodes to generate an "electric wind" or, in Barrett's preferred nomenclature, “ionic wind.”

Barrett said his dogged pursuit of the plane-he’s been working on it for years-was rooted in his appreciation of the silent, propeller-less crafts in science fiction like Star Trek. But the phenomenon of movement created purely by electrical charge is both much older and much stranger than that.

Note: Major thanks to Myron Robinson, who traced the history of electric wind in a technical paper written for the military in 1960. It's available online. The Xerox is terrible, but everything that's legible is interesting.

The Long, Strange Story of Electric Wind, the Phenomenon Behind the Plane With No Moving Parts

A plane without moving parts isn’t even the half of it.

From Popular Mechanics