From Paper Airplanes To Laser Propulsion

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While many engineers have spent countless hours and dollars trying to design the next propulsion system, a South Carolina teenager has worked with the basics -- namely a paper airplane and a lot of creativity -- to come up with some ideas of his own. Apparently, itís paid off, as Hilton Head High School sophomore Ben Rosenberg has been invited for an all-expense-paid trip to Japan to continue his work with laser propulsion. Ben will get to work in the Tokyo Institute of Technology's labs for two weeks with Takashi Yabe, a professor and chief laser researcher, who is looking at ways to use lasers to propel spacecraft and airplanes. It makes perfect sense that Rosenberg would work with Yabe, since the Japanese researcher was the student's inspiration. Rosenberg began his own research, developed ideas and even experimented with them after reading an international science-fair newsletter article about Yabe's work with lasers. Rosenberg contacted Yabe by e-mail and got advice about designing his experiments and continued to correspond with the researcher periodically. The help was beneficial, as Rosenberg's most recent plane flew 75 centimeters and skidded another 30 centimeters for an overall movement of 105 centimeters after being fired upon by an intense military laser at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. Now, the pair will work together on other laser-based projects.