Magic carpet A team of Princeton engineers has devised a way to propel a small, thin sheet of plastic through the air using waves of electrical current. Lead author Noah T. Jafferis, a graduate student in electrical engineering, published the findings in Applied Physics Letters Sept. 13. In the experiment, electric actuators in the 4-inch-long sheet were connected to batteries, limiting the sheet’s movement. But the authors reported that the force involved was “theoretically sufficient to achieve ‘flying’ of the sheet, provided that it can be freed from its tethers.” Don’t expect a flying-carpet ride anytime soon, though: Jafferis told the BBC’s Science in Action that to carry a person, the sheet would need to be about 50 feet wide.
Right to left Damage to one part of the brain that controls object recognition may affect other parts of the brain as well, according to a team from Princeton and Carnegie Mellon University led by Princeton postdoctoral researcher Christina Konen and professor Sabine Kastner. Using functional MRI, the researchers studied the brains of five control subjects and one person with object agnosia, which decreases the ability to recognize objects but does not damage vision or general intelligence. The subject’s object agnosia was caused by a lesion on the right hemisphere of the brain, but in tests of object recognition, the researchers found that corresponding locations in the left hemisphere also were impaired. The case study was published in Neuron July 14.