Tag Archives | tractor beams

Real Life Tractor Beam

Gene Roddenberry & The Star Trek Cast

Yet another one of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek gadgets of the future now exists in the 21st Century. Via BBC News:

A real-life “tractor beam”, which uses light to attract objects, has been developed by scientists.

It is hoped it could have medical applications by targeting and attracting individual cells.

The research, published in Nature Photonics and led by the University of St Andrews, is limited to moving microscopic particles.

In science fiction programmes such as Star Trek, tractor beams are used to move much more massive objects.

It is not the first time science has aimed to replicate the feat – albeit at smaller scales.

In 2011, researchers from China and Hong Kong showed how it might be done with laser beams of a specific shape – and the US space agency Nasa has even funded a studyto examine how the technique might help with manipulating samples in space.

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Scientists Develop Real-Life Tractor Beam

tractorbeamsAustralian scientists have built device that generates a tractor beam, commonly considered a  figment of alien abduction scenarios and Star Trek. The researchers’ creation thus far is capable of transporting small objects distances of up to five feet, using only a beam of light, Popular Science reports:

Using only light, Australian researchers say they are able to move small particles almost five feet through the air. It’s more than 100 times the distance achieved by existing optical “tweezers,” the researchers say.

Not quite a simple grabby tractor beam, the new system works by shining a hollow laser beam at an object and taking advantage of air-temperature differences to move it around.

It works by shining a hollow laser beam around small glass particles, as Inside Science explains. The air around the particle heats up, but the hollow center of the beam stays cool. The heated air molecules keep the object balanced in the dark center.

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