A research team at New York University may have turned conventional theory about hovering aircraft on its head by demonstrating that "paper bugs" shaped like a pyramid, if properly weighted, could be more stable than a conventional helicopter (like the Blackhawk shown above). In a series of lab tests, hollow triangular bugs were either made top-heavy by fixing a weight above the pyramid, or given a low center of mass by suspending the weight below. When oscillating, up-and-down air currents were applied, the top-heavy design was found to be the most stable. Lead researcher Jun Zhang compared the effect to balancing a broomstick in your hand and saving it from tipping by applying a force in the direction of its tilt. No word on whether such insight will help Mattel to design a hovering skateboard.
Photo: Joint Service Audiovisual Team