Who needs wizards? We have scientists: Jetpacks are back, and the invisibility cloak is on the way
JETPACK? DONE that, been there. Invisibility cloak? Nah, it'll never happen. Those are the answers you used to get regarding those potential inventions. But advances in technology - as well as a dose of healthy tenacity - mean that consumers everywhere may soon have personal jPaks and iCloaks.
If his invention is not an elaborate prank, inventor and former biochemist Glenn Martin may find himself at the center of some attention. Because it looks like his company, the New Zealand-based Martin Aircraft has finally built an operational jetpack.
For $90,000 (€66,681), about the price of a Porsche Hybrid, and if you were willing to wait a year for it to be custom-built, you could become the owner of a working jetpack.
Called rocket belts when the US military was testing them in the 1960s, previous versions had flight times of less than 30 seconds and were fueled by pressurized hydrogen peroxide.
The Martin Jetpack (MJ) runs on 5.28 gallons (20 liters) of service-station quality gasoline, has a range of 30 miles (48.3 km) and a top speed of 60 mph.
In an interview with New Zealand television, Martin said the device could carry a person of average weight for about 30 minutes. "I see it very much like a jet ski for the skies," said Martin, adding that his teenage son has even taken a test flight.
"I'm not quite the mad inventor; maybe [an] eccentric inventor," he noted.
Compared to the backpack-sized unit the Pentagon designed, at five-feet-square, the MJ is a beast! But there's a parachute built in, and if your hands are off the controls, it goes into autopilot and hovers in place.
Martin has signed a deal to supply MJs to a government, but he could not say which one.
WHO NEEDS MAGIC?
Also gaining notoriety are the inventors of the invisibility cloak. A team lead by Tolga Ergin at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, in Germany, are in the process of creating a nanotech material that will "transform space," making a "carpet mirror" that bends light, rendering the wearer invisible.
With all those iCloaks out there, will jPaks come with built-in radar, or is that extra?