Repulsorlift Rises to Win Nobel PrizeStephen Hill; Lakeland, FLThird Place, Grades 9-12
DETROIT - The Nobel Prize Committee awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize for Physics Thursday to a team of engineers and physicists at Transportation Research and Development (TRD) for their work on the repulsorlift and its impact on travel and transportation. “It’s been a long fifteen years, but I never dreamed we’d win a Nobel Prize for the repulsorlift,” said Mark Landry, chief engineer. “This team has had to go through so many obstacles, like funding, mechanics, people, you name it. This is an incredible honor...” Landry says he first conceived the repulsorlift while watching Star Wars in 2005. “I saw these floating vehicles and I thought, ‘I could build something like that!’” The idea grew into a full-fledged project at TRD that took fifteen years and as many billions of dollars in the development. Now, the repulsorlift is as common as cargo shorts were twenty years ago. Everything from big rigs to lawnmowers sport now-familiar circular arrays of small jets that compress air, blasting it outwards. A big rig, for instance, might have one array replacing the tires of thirty years ago. Common hydrogen fuel cells power both the repulsorlift and small jet engines for propulsion. In stark contrast to the inefficient engines of yesteryear, this repulsorlift/turbine arrangement averages fifty to seventy miles per gallon. Government reports state that the United States consumes thirty percent less oil than it did thirty years ago, greatly reducing dependence on imports. “It’s very hard to remember they used to be called eighteen-wheelers, even, say, twenty years ago. Now they’re eighteen-pulsors,” said Landry. For the transportation industry, TRD’s repulsorlift is the best thing since the Model T. Parallel parking is now effortless: drivers can simply aim the repulsorlifts to slide sideways into a parking space. State Farm Insurance research indicates this technology prevented thirty percent of all parking-related accidents last year. “I’m excited about the possibilities the repulsorlift has. We’ve already pushed open several roadblocks that looked pretty forbidding,” the engineer said. “Who knows how many other problems it’ll solve?” Twenty years ago, department heads at the Federal Bureau of Transportation weren’t sure if the average consumer would exchange tires for air. “We have seen no documents on this invention,” the department stated on Thursday, February 27, 2000. “It is yet to be determined whether Americans are ready to switch from tires to repulsorlifts.” The National Academy of Engineering thought otherwise: “The repulsorlift has been waiting to happen for a long time,” a spokesman said in 2005. “We think it will change everything about travel and transportation in the next twenty or thirty years.” Where will the repulsorlift be in the next twenty years? Will it continue to revolutionize travel and transportation or be superseded? Mark Landry doesn’t know. He does know his team won the Nobel Prize and changed transportation forever. “Engineering is the only field where you can design a repulsorlift and get an international prize for it,” he said. “It’s truly a dream career.”
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