I feel the future of transportation lies in space travel. People can go any where in the world and can do anything but travel in space. This is do to the incredible cost of space travel. The use of massive amounts of fuel for departing and re-entering the atmosphere contributes a high percentage of the cost. If there was only a way to cut down on these costs, space travel would become a more realistic form of travel. Physics has shown how to make many dreams, including cheaper space travel, become a reality.
If I could spend one year doing any kind of research I wanted, I would research magnetic braking for spacecraft reentry. My idea would use the great magnetic field that surrounds celestial bodies and a law of physics created some time back. Braking would be made possible by passing rather large coils of wire, attached to the spacecraft, through a large change in magnetic flux (this can be seen in the crude drawing below). To accomplish this research I would need the help of some sort of space agency. With this help, I would study the earlier attempts to create energy by passing a tether through the earth's magnetic field. This test used the same kind of electromagnetic relationship I would use.
I would also research the intensity of forces created to oppose the motion through the magnetic field as stated in Lens' Law. According to this law, I would assume that any spacecraft entering a polar orbit, with my idea of rather large coils of wire attached to its hull, would be able to slow down enough for reentry. I would conduct tests by changing magnetic flux, similar to magnetic fields in space, in large coils. Data would be collected on opposition forces, resistance in the wire, and other such factors. I would also study what uses a spacecraft would have for all the extra energy created as a process of this magnetic braking. I chose this topic after hearing about NASA's recent attempts to use satellite solar-array as brakes, a seemingly crude way of dropping a delicate piece of equipment out of orbit.
After taking college level physics I came up with an easier way of accomplishing this task. I have always had a special interest in aerospace engineering which has also added in my decision on this research topic. The physics behind this research may someday help make cheap space transportation a reality.