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.
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.
Moving objects with powerful light is not new — researchers have long been using optical tweezers to pluck bacteria-sized particles and move them a few millimeters. The U.S. Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, won his Nobel Prize for work with optical tweezers. But Andrei Rhode and colleagues at the Australian National University say their new laser device can move glass objects hundreds of times bigger than bacteria, and shove them a meter and a half (5 feet) or more. Rhode says the 1.5-meter limit was only because of the size of the table where he placed his lasers — he thinks he can move objects up to 10 meters, or about 30 feet.
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. But a small amount of light sneaks into the hollow, warming the air on one side of the object and nudging it along the length of the laser beam. Researchers can change the speed and direction of the glass object by changing the lasers' brightness.
The system needs heated air or gas to work, so in its present incarnation it wouldn't work in space — sorry, Star Wars fans. But it could be used for a variety of purposes on Earth, like biological research or movement of hazardous materials.
I think you mean star trek fans i don,t remember tractor beams in star wars but it does sound cool it could be used to move dust away from electronic components in factory,s.
ROFL, the writer was probably referring to the deathstar using (GASP!) a tractor beam to capture the millennium falcon.
And you call yourselves 'nerds'
Guys, seriously? How do you think they got the Millennium Falcon into the Death Star in Episode IV? What do you think old Ben was running around the space station to shut down?
LOL I just registered to say the exact same thing Scrapiron and Suddenmischief said... I couldn't let it not be referenced! go nerds! lol
I wonder if this can be used to repel my ex to a galaxy far far away. She already comes with both hot and cold air surrounding her.
You've allowed yourselves to get caught up in the age old battle of Trek vs War and you've missed the most obvious point... "taking advantage of air-temperature differences"
They would have a very hard time using this technology in space.
cmtberg is right, it wouldn't work in space, but we are a step closer to a real nerd paradise. But Star Wars took the idea from Star Trek any way, Trek came out nearly 13 years earlier, and who can debate that Kirk is hunkier than Obi?
Just to let you all know, they did mention tractor beams in starwars episode 4...or was it 5? cant remember lol
being that one laser beam is a tube and the object is ballanced in the center of the beam by the laser light heating the air molecules anround it, then in theroy the "craft" that can be contained in the tube o'light even in a vacumn such as space, such a system could (therecticley) be a satelite with the tube portion, in geo stat with a ground base that contains the booster beam, while in the atmoshpere the craft would be lifted by "the heated molecules" in the atmoshpere, the craft having an overhang that extends out beyond the boundries of the "tube beam" would have a suffecient amount of charged air molecules behind and around it, (and could even carry i tank below it to inject more air if nessecary) to carry the craft to the satelite, being charged the molecules following and surounding the craft while in space would would be induced to stay within the walls of the laser, because of the path of high heat the tube o'light provides.
I thought this was interesting new technology until I read it. The headlines make it sound so interesting.
If I may be so bold. I think a tractor beam was used in the VERY VERY VERY VERY first scene of the ENTIRE star wars saga. Its been a few years. so don't crucify me if I get a detail wrong BUT star wars opens up with the the princesses corvette (the class of ship she was in) running from a star destroyer. The star destroyer then sucks the corvette up with a tractor beam. It may not be said, I don't remember, but they somehow I don't think the princess just drove her ship into the belly of Vader's ship for the fun of it.
@Marwanshah your kidding right. is your forward thinking ability so poor that you cant see where this type of technology could take us in the future. What if you where in China 2000 years ago and saw the first crappy bottle rocket. This is what you would say: thats not very interesting. 2000 years later we have rocket ships that can send satalies all over the solar system. telegraph... that was dumb. Now all we have is the internet. Have you even seen the first transistor? It was just about the most boring least interesting thing I have seen in my life and about the size of a vollyball. Do I even need to explain where the transistor has taken us now...
For anybody who thought Star Wars doesn't have tractor beams, you guys should be ashamed of yourselves. When the Star Wars saga gets released in Blu-Ray next year, you had better buy it and watch them in the real order they came out if you want to regain your status as a nerd. Until then, you shall be downgraded to a geek.
P.S. Han shot first.
Okay - really doesn't anybody see the IMMEDIATE POTENTIAL APPLICATION of this technology? (I saw the potential when I read the article). For instance? How about using it for a bullit train, or to move subway cars, or elevators. Just immagine a giant tube, say the like "Chunnel" that runs under the English Channel. You use this "tractor beam" to push a train through it. Or use it to raise an elevator up and down by regulating the power of the "tractor beam". There is alot more that can be done with this "tractor beam". The concepts just have to be pursued and developed.
Dont forget spaceballs!
For those of you who don't think Star Wars had tractor beams..you need to see the very first movies again. The death star traps the Millenium Falcon with a tractor beam. Han Solo comments on this twice; first when it catches them and then when they are about to escape he says he hopes that that old man deactivated the tractor beam. Don't believe me, watch the movie again.
Why are they calling it a tractor beam, anyway? It pushes.... it doesn't pull.
This is very cool and exciting, even though it requires the hot/cool air differential to move these tiny objects. Eventually, the medium will not be necessary when some other light beam or electro-magnetic force is used to move or capture objects. It's just a matter of time.
First, tractor beam is a derivative of "attractor beam", something that pulls rather than pushes.
Second, we can already move things further than five feet with hot air, although admittedly not as precisely.
Third, laser cooling technology is much, well, cooler than this.
Hey guys, while star trek talked about tractor beams more, there were in fact tractor beams in star wars, thats what caught the millennium falcon as it approached the death star...
You might want to condence the light beam and ring of emw with sound around the beam. Now this will take care just one you will need meny such beams for it to be of any good. This will also give it some power. Then try and do the same thing, but with a penny at first, then when you add more you should be able to move larger objects. For you if this works keep the idea.
that's really nice and exciting. but its called beam tractor instead of push.
lol this is HeLLa BoMb AsS SiCk! Its just like in starman when captain James Picard Kirk gets his millennium falcon pulled inside the death star by angry Klingons. Has anyone seen thumb wars? That s%$# was hilarious! WWAAYYY better than Starman.
jus read the books and you will get all the tractor beam references you need