NASA may be temporarily out of the manned spaceflight game, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t preparing to realize all of our most technologically compelling sci-fi fantasies. The agency’s Office of the Chief Technologist (OCT) has awarded three researchers funding to study three different means of creating a tractor beam--a ray of laser light than can trap and pull objects in the opposite direction of the beam.
Two atomic-scale studies announced in the past week could have major implications for the future of computing and information storage. Last Friday, IBM researchers in Zurich announced they had measured how long a single atom can store information. And Monday, Kiwi researchers announced they had trapped a single atom inside a tractor beam and taken its picture.
Have you ever lazily wished you could just use a tractor beam to grab that out-of-reach object? Apparently, you can.
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.