Andrei Rhode, an Australian National University researcher, and his students have invented a tractor beam. Amazingly, the students have moved particles about a yard and a half using just the power of a light beam.
Beam me up Scotty Probably not in the Future
The particles that were moved are very small, but the movement of them using only light is an amazing feat. The way the researcher moved the particles was by shining a hollow laser beam around tiny glass particles. The area around the particles is heated, but the particles remain cool and begin to drift. However, when they get near the laser beam, they are moved back to the center.
Changing the brightness of the beams changes the speed and direction in which the particles move. Rhode believes that the particles could move up to 10 yards using the laser. The reason their maximum distance was shorter was because they were limited by the size of the labâ€™s optical table.
Unfortunately, this Star Trek like technology will not work in space because of the vacuum of outer space making it very unlikely that we could ever been beamed up to a waiting ship. This tractor beam will be quite useful on Earth though by doing something like moving a dangerous substance for taking samples. It is amazing what scientists and researchers can do!
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