"Every scientist worth his salt that I know of has read science fiction."
Laputa's means of propulsion and altitude control is detailed below.
Here is an early illustration:
(The island of Laputa)
The island's altitude and progress is determined by magnetic levitation:
At the Centre of the Island there is a Chasm about fifty Yards in Diameter... The greatest Curiosity, upon which the fate of the Island depends, is a Loadstone of a prodigious size, in shape resembling a Weaver's Shuttle. It is in length six Yards, and in the thickest part at least three Yards over. This Magnet is sustained by a very strong Axle of Adamant passing through its middle, upon which it plays, and is poised os exactly that the weakest Hand can turn it...
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