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Australia Technology

Researchers Create Real Tractor Beams 111

Posted by timothy
from the rebels-will-be-crushed dept.
Gadgetank writes "Researchers out of the Australian National University have created a device, working in conjunction with other necessary devices, that can literally move small particles with light. And only light. The way it works is by shining a hollow laser beam around some tiny glass particles. The researchers heat the air around the particles, and therefore cause the dark center of the beam to remain cool."
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Researchers Create Real Tractor Beams

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  • by D3 (31029) <daviddhenning&gmail,com> on Thursday September 09, 2010 @05:28PM (#33527702) Journal
    They use this to PUSH particles around, not PULL them.
    • by The MAZZTer (911996) <<megazzt> <at> <gmail.com>> on Thursday September 09, 2010 @05:29PM (#33527714) Homepage
      Well then they just need to reverse the polarity!
    • by LanMan04 (790429) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @05:48PM (#33527904)

      Quoth wikipedia (from the "Optical Tweezers" article:

      Optical tweezers (originally called "single-beam gradient force trap") is a scientific instrument that uses a highly focused laser beam to provide an attractive or repulsive force (typically on the order of piconewtons), depending on the refractive index mismatch to physically hold and move microscopic dielectric objects. Optical tweezers have been particularly successful in studying a variety of biological systems in recent years.
      --------
      So does that mean this new method works on a different principle?

      • by Anomalyx (1731404)

        Quoth wikipedia (from the "Optical Tweezers" article:

        Optical tweezers (originally called "single-beam gradient force trap") is a scientific instrument that uses a highly focused laser beam to provide an attractive or repulsive force (typically on the order of piconewtons), depending on the refractive index mismatch to physically hold and move microscopic dielectric objects. Optical tweezers have been particularly successful in studying a variety of biological systems in recent years.
        --------
        So does that mean this new method works on a different principle?

        I don't think I've ever seen a tractor push anything; only pull. So if these beams really can provide a force in either direction, I vote we call them tugboat beams instead.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Chris Burke (6130)

          I vote we call them tugboat beams instead.

          That's a pretty great idea, actually. I second this!

          It's certainly much better than my idea of renaming tractors "uni-directional laser tweezer trucks"

        • I don't think I've ever seen a tractor push anything; only pull. So if these beams really can provide a force in either direction, I vote we call them tugboat beams instead.

          Ain't the English language a funny thing? Tugboats push instead of tug/pull. People park in driveways. And so on.

          I think the only way we'll ever see a real tractor beam is the day we can control gravitons (I'm still not convinced they are real particles, although I was pleasantly surprised when I started seeing them mentioned more in recent documentaries). If we could somehow create focused graviton beams, then we'd have a real tractor beam.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by c6gunner (950153)

            Ain't the English language a funny thing? Tugboats push instead of tug/pull. People park in driveways. And so on.

            Not really, no. Tugboats primarily pull, although they can also push. And a driveway is a path which you drive on in order to reach the house. You could park your car on a driving-range, too, but that wouldn't make the name inappropriate.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Albinoman (584294)
              I bet you're a lot of fun at parties.
            • by treeves (963993)
              But if you park on a parkway, you're asking for trouble.
            • You park on a driveway, you drive on a parkway.

              If you send something by truck it's a shipment. If you send it by ship it's cargo.

              English is weird.

          • by onepoint (301486)

            Tugboats: funny thing is that can pull or push depending on the needs

            Most river tug's are barge pushers

            most harbor tugs push vessels, the only time I see that not true on the Hudson river is when it's a fuel barge that is empty.

            ocean going tug's pull a vessel

            from what little I know, a tug boat is very good at pushing because of the prop design and control
            A pulling a vessel does not have that much control.

            some newer designed tugs are amazing, they can turn on a dime with amazing amounts of force to applied.

            • I haven't actually seen a tugboat pull, but I figured they would. I live near an obscure, but important, port (Beaumont, TX). I grew up watching them navigate the Neches River, and I have seen them do some pretty neat things. There's a refinery dock next to the park I used to hang out at, and I would watch the tugboats help secure a vessel... you can FEEL the power of those engines a good 150 yards away.
        • by thorgil (455385)

          I've seen tractors with snowplows.
          They PUSH snow.

          btw, even though tugboats sometimes pushes, "tug" means pull. "Tug of war" as an example.

        • Tractors have front loader attachments to them. Which they use to push stuff

      • so they wouldnt even work in space? no atmosphere. pshh

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by wierd_w (1375923)
          Actually, Wasn't there an article about a month ago here on slashdot about the "Maximum effective energy" a laser can reach, before the photon flux itself breaks down into antiparticle pairs? A similar effect could be attained using a modification of the optical tweaser approach used here, that WOULD be effective in space. (It would, however, also tend to vaporize whatever you shined it at... but Meh.) Namely, you add another "layer" in your optical tweasers, at a very very high photon flux. This will cre
    • by geekoid (135745)

      If I shine a beam of light on something that causes it to move towards me, it's a tractor beam.

    • by Joe Snipe (224958)

      Dupe post in a dupe article

    • by Lanteran (1883836)
      plus its useless in space...
  • Echolocation (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 09, 2010 @05:30PM (#33527730)
  • Not terribly novel (Score:4, Informative)

    by toppavak (943659) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @05:30PM (#33527734)
    Mechanical forces exerted on objects by light have been described since the 1970's and practically demonstrated since 1986 [wikipedia.org].
    • This is a secondary reaction from the light heating the air, so the air is moving the particle, which was heated by the laser. regardless this is about as close to a tractor beam as my DeWalt drill is to a wormhole generator.
      • Mod parent up. This is not the optical tweezer effect that people who (surprise surprise) didn't read the article have been confusing it with.
    • by quizzicus (891184)
      I think you mean the 1870s [wikipedia.org].
    • Crooks radiometer has been getting pushed around by light since 1873!

  • by gearloos (816828) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @05:30PM (#33527738)
    John Deere files suit
  • Pfft (Score:5, Funny)

    by Adambomb (118938) * on Thursday September 09, 2010 @05:32PM (#33527748) Journal

    Wouldn't work in a vacuum, less space than a nomad. Lame.

    • True, but it uses Lasers. Once the cult of Laser picks it up, the rest of the public will follow. Damn those Laser sheep...
  • Meh. This is a repulsor beam, not a tractor beam. Wake me up when I can use this, instead of my own gravitational pull, to bring things within reach of my grasp.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mosb1000 (710161)

      You should seriously consider losing some weight.

      • You should seriously consider losing some weight.

        Well, that's the damn point. I can't afford to lose weight until we have a working tractor beam, lest I lose all chances of physical contact with members of the opposite sex.

        Although I suppose if I lost enough weight I could simply find some who are large enough to not outrun me, or I could even get swept into their gravitational pull. But I kind of prefer being the Jabba to their Leia.

        • by Chris Burke (6130)

          But I kind of prefer being the Jabba to their Leia.

          Careful, erotic asphyxiation is highly dangerous.

    • by eln (21727) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @05:45PM (#33527870) Homepage
      You can use a repulsor beam like this to bring things within your grasp if it's positioned properly, much like women can increase their own attraction by bringing their much uglier friend with them to the bars. In practical terms, your large gravitational pull is actually counteracted by a natural repulsor beam (also generated by your weight) that keeps women away from you. If this new beam were to be placed directly behind your target, it may be able to successfully counteract your own repulsive field enough to draw the women in, or at least allow them to enter into a stable orbit around you. After that, you just have to turn up the charm and you're golden.
      • In practical terms, your large gravitational pull is actually counteracted by a natural repulsor beam (also generated by your weight) that keeps women away from you.

        So you're saying that if I could project my stench *behind* my target, it would propel them towards me?

        Interesting. And as you say, if they try escaping out the sides, that would just put them into orbit (provided I can move my stench projection as needed).

        Interesting. You have given me much to ruminate on.

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Wake me up when I can use this, instead of my own gravitational pull, to bring things within reach of my grasp. Cowboy Neal, is that you?
  • OMG (Score:4, Funny)

    by future assassin (639396) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @05:34PM (#33527782) Homepage

    It worked so well that moving the particles caused the news about them to be duped http://tech.slashdot.org/index2.pl?fhfilter=Tractor+Beams [slashdot.org] They call it the Dupification Effect.

  • Until the bacterium reroute the main power conduits through the deflector beam to create an inverse tachyon pulse. Then what?
    Oh yeah, dupe.
    http://science.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1780946&cid=33509648 [slashdot.org]
  • Guess there's a lot of tractor beam research with this and Tractor Beams Come To Life [slashdot.org]
  • Thought I read about this yesterday.... Oh, yeah, I did... Tractor Beams [slashdot.org]
  • by hedpe2003 (1735078) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @05:39PM (#33527830)
    A Slashdot submission... linking to a forum [gadgetank.com]... linking to a new site [dvice.com]... linking to a.... Slashdot submission [slashdot.org]???

    When I think SEO backlinking... I think this.
    • slashdot = stagnated
    • by cygnwolf (601176)
      Admittedly, it's a nice recursive loop we've got going here...
      • by Megahard (1053072)
        Expect to see the story again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next...
        • by Xtravar (725372)

          Then the site gets hacked because of a buffer overflow exploit.

        • by enjerth (892959)

          Next thing, I'll be waking up to hear the same damn song at the same time every morning. In a small bed & breakfast in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

    • Welcome to the 7th wonder of the internet: self-propagating citations. They're almost as fun as self-propagating code, but more dangerous because they make misinformed people feel smug and more intelligent than they really are.

      For further information please see this article about Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]. Also try Googling recursion.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Culture20 (968837)

        For further information please see this article about Wikipedia.

        Wasn't all of that information on Wikipedia's Wikipedia page original research written by Wikipedia? That article should be deleted for being non-notable, and original research.

    • Quick - someone post this to a news site and then post about it in a forum.

      We can't disrupt the timeline or the universe will implode!

      (Or worse - cats and dogs living together, Sarah Palin will become president - MASS HYSTERIA!)
    • by lmnfrs (829146)
      It seems we have a conundrum.
  • Here's your chance to karma whore by copying all the +5 comments from here [slashdot.org]!

    Until the bacterium reroute the main power conduits through the deflector beam to create an inverse tachyon pulse. Then what?
  • Yesterday's News (from Gizmodo)

  • -- they really need to use John Deere or Massey Ferguson tractor beams....
  • I aimed it at yesterdays posting [slashdot.org] of this story and here it is, still hanging around!

  • the icon...an article reporting on the Australian National University's particle physics research being tagged with Crocodile Dundee's hat??
    at best its goofy, at worst its degrading.
    can we try for something like Ayers rock or the Usana amphitheater next time?
    even better, something related to physics instead of some hollywood stereotypes prop?
    • /. uses a variety of symbols to indicate what each story is about. Does the fact that Bill Gates doesn't work at Microsoft any more, nor was he ever assimilated into a borg mean that they shouldn't use that symbol? Further more, military technology has come a long way since roman times, the earth doesn't cast a shadow, software doesn't always come on CDs, there's more to space than Saturn and whatever other planet that is, Robots don't usually look like the goofy one in the symbol, and crime often doesn't i

      • by westlake (615356)
        Does the fact that Bill Gates doesn't work at Microsoft any more, nor was he ever assimilated into a borg mean that they shouldn't use that symbol?

        Yes.

    • When I saw the icon, I thought tractor beams were being used to keep Paul Hogan within reach of the tax department.
  • Time Travel (Score:3, Funny)

    by Zalbik (308903) on Thursday September 09, 2010 @06:16PM (#33528132)

    Damnit....I warned them that this would disrupt the space time continuum.

    Those fools had to go ahead and do it anyways.

    And now look what's happened...we're caught in a loop [slashdot.org]!

  • What's happened to the Slashdot tagging system? Why can't I click the little triangle to add new tags to an article anymore? Are only editors allowed to tag articles these days?

    And why the hell hasn't anyone marked this one 'dupe'?

    When tags were first introduced I saw a massive drop in the rate of duplicate articles that made it past the firehose (was it even called 'firehose' back then? I don't remember)

  • re: dupes (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by sootman (158191)

    You know what though? Slashdot has gotten really good about dupes. Remember how it was kind of a running joke, and then for a while a couple years ago it got really bad? Now, this one is, I think, the second or third dupe I've seen in a year. Congrats to the staff for fixing at least one part of our beloved Slashdot.

    Now if you'l excuse me, I'm off to copy some +5 comments from yesterday's thread. :-)

  • If it isn't pulling, it should be a bulldozer beam if we're keeping the analogies straight.

    I can't help but think how loud the Klingons would laugh at us if the Enterprise tried to use this, as there is no air to heat in space like the bulldozer beam needs.

  • They say it uses only light, then they say it's based on heating the air around the particle. So it's not "only light" is it? It's air that moves the particle, and the laser is just a high-precision way of heating the air.

Gee, Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.

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