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A report from Hank Green of on the Ohio Aerospace Institute's solid state aircraft.
(EcoGeek Intro plays)

Hank: Hello, this is Hank Green, Chief Geek at, and I'm bringing you something interesting.  One of our writers, John Barry (?~0:12), recently put together a report on the solid state aircraft.  And I found this top secret--okay, not actually top secret--video of the solid state aircraft in action.

So what IS a solid state aircraft?  At first glance, it seems to be a balloon, sponsored by the Ohio Aerospace Institute and NASA.  Maybe it's this canister attached to the bottom.  Or--okay, in contradiction to the name of the aircraft, it seems to be not solid-state, it is quite un-solid, because it has flapping wings.  

Okay, there's two of them, and they're, they're flapping, and they seem to be solar powered, I will guess they have thin film solar panels, uh, and they also have this scary hole in the bottom of them.  Okay, they look like they're happy.  Do they look like they're happy to you?  Oh my God!  They're attacking the planet!  Well that was an unexpected development!  

Then, 1,300 years after they've lain waste to our empire, the winged beasts created by an unholy coalition of NASA and the Ohio Aerospace Institute return.  They've achieved their goal.  They have converted the Earth into one giant petrochemical factory, and they fly off in peace and happiness into the sunset, never to be seen again by human eyes, because we're all dead.  Well, I hope you're happy, Ohio Aerospace Institute.  

Just because they're solar powered doesn't mean the birds can't take over the planet.  Okay, maybe they won't actually take over the Earth.  They're actually called solid state aircrafts because they don't officially have engines.  You have to figure out how to make them flap, and how to make them be flappable.  Now, the second part there has become a lot easier, because solar panels and batteries have become flexible in the past few years.  We have thin film solar, and that has no problem being flexible at all, and then we have thin film lithium polymer batteries, which can also be flexible and store a lot of energy, even though they're extremely expensive right now.  So that's how you make it flappable, but how do you make it flap?

It turns out that the Ohio Aerospace Institute has been creating a new kind of material that deforms itself in an electric field, and then, when the field is removed, it goes back to its original state.  So, you just put that material inside of this bird thing, and then cover it in some solar panels, and then put in some flexible batteries, and suddenly you've got a man-made bird.  And as long as they don't become too intelligent, I will admit that I love the future.  

This is Hank Green for, technology for the environment.