The vacuum airship
Stories from Physics for 11-14 14-16
In the 1670s, following an idea proposed by Roger Bacon, Francesco Lana de Trezi designed an airship that generated lift from evacuated copper spheres. Lana de Trezi’s aircraft consisted of a boat hull with a mast, sail and four copper spheres that would have their air pumped out. Unfortunately for Lana de Trezi, it is estimated that spheres made of copper light enough to float (requiring a thickness of 0.1 mm) would collapse when evacuated. The O-Boot project in Italy is attempting to use modern materials to make Lana de Trezi’s dream a reality.