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Science

Tractor Beams Come To Life 127

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the da-da-da-dadada-dadada dept.
Jamie is helping bring our childhood fantasies/nightmares to life with a link that says "Andrei Rhode, a researcher involved with the project, said that existing optical tweezers are able to move particles the size of a bacterium a few millimeters in a liquid. Their new technique can move objects one hundred times that size over a distance of a meter or more."
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Tractor Beams Come To Life

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  • Pfft. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @12:29PM (#33509648)

    Until the bacterium reroute the main power conduits through the deflector beam to create an inverse tachyon pulse. Then what?

    • Until the bacterium reroute the main power conduits through the deflector beam to create an inverse tachyon pulse. Then what?

      That's assuming they can use their collective consciousness to organize to do that.

      • by ultranova (717540)

        That's assuming they can use their collective consciousness to organize to do that.

        Why not? Your brain cells are doing just that. How's it feel to be the collective consciousness of a bunch of unicellular clones?

      • by kdemetter (965669)

        Yes , and we could call them "The Borg" , but that would be a trademark violation.

    • by pmontra (738736)
      Reversing the polarity is easier.
    • Re:Pfft. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Abstrackt (609015) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @12:41PM (#33509838)

      Until the bacterium reroute the main power conduits through the deflector beam to create an inverse tachyon pulse. Then what?

      I think you meant deflector array. Otherwise there's no way such a silly thing could happen. :p

      • Until the bacterium reroute the main power conduits through the deflector beam to create an inverse tachyon pulse. Then what?

        I think you meant deflector array. Otherwise there's no way such a silly thing could happen. :p

        Hear me out, commander. If we modulate the signal, we can use the deflector beam as a carrier wave, and get a signal to , who can then relay the signal to Starbase 352.

    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      Doesn't matter, we're all stuck in the holodeck.

      • by cygnwolf (601176)
        That's not reassuring, the safety interlocks are off.
        • by jpedlow (1154099)
          ITS OK,

          Professor Moriarty will save us.

          if not, then my friend Reg Barkley will hook his brain into the holodeck and become the new computer core. he's always on the holodeck anyway, right guys?
    • Too late (Score:3, Informative)

      by CarpetShark (865376)

      Listen, no one's left to care about bacteria. By the time the tractor beam has come to life, even the captain has already abandoned ship.

      I mean, seriously... even in the wildest sci-fi show, did you EVER hear of a tractor beam COMING TO LIFE?!

    • by syousef (465911)

      Until the bacterium reroute the main power conduits through the deflector beam to create an inverse tachyon pulse. Then what?

      Is there any way to turn the tacky off?

    • Insightful? Seriously?
    • Insightful? Who the heck modded this Insightful? It's *funny* but I wouldn't call it Insightful, geez.

  • For some reason I thought of farm implements when I saw "tractor." Didn't make a whole lot of sense.
    • by BitHive (578094)

      No kidding. This should've been called a 'tweezer beam'

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ColdWetDog (752185)
        Han Solo: "We're caught in a tweezer beam, it's pulling us in!"

        No, it just doesn't work. Just doesn't set up the scene correctly at all.
        • by natehoy (1608657)

          Lone Star: "We're caught in a tweezer beam, it's pulling us in!"

          Does that work better?

        • by SEWilco (27983) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @01:52PM (#33510676) Journal

          Han Solo: "We're caught in a tweezer beam, it's pulling us in!" No, it just doesn't work. Just doesn't set up the scene correctly at all.

          Sure it does. A maid with a vacuum cleaner large enough to destroy a planet would also have a tweezer beam large enough for one little ship.

          • (Wil Wheaton quotes a Star Wars line)
            Sheldon: That's not even your franchise!

            [Okay, Spaceballs was a parody of Wars, so this kind of fits.]

        • by ultranova (717540)

          So... Why did the Death Star capture Millenium Falcon? They destroyed Alderaan to invoke terror; wouldn't they want as many ships as possible to spread the word that it's gone?

          Mr. Lucas, is this another instance of making someone else shoot first?

          • by KDR_11k (778916)

            They knew the plans for the death star were on that ship and since a high ranking politician was on board they couldn't just destroy it right away.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by ultranova (717540)

              They knew the plans for the death star were on that ship and since a high ranking politician was on board they couldn't just destroy it right away.

              What high-ranking politician? The only people on the ship at that point were Obi-Wan, Luke, Han, Chewie, R2-D2 and 3-CPO. None of them were politicians.

              Besides, if the Empire was willing to blow up an entire planet, I doubt they'd spare a ship either. It simply doesn't make sense. Unless, of course, Han shot first and Lucas simply cut that from the movie.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      Now that they have a tractor beam, will a trailor beam come soon?

    • For some reason I thought of farm implements when I saw "tractor." Didn't make a whole lot of sense.

      Sure it does. "Tractor beams" and "tractors" are named that because they pull. (Same root as "traction".)

      However the beam in TFA is, in the science fiction vernacular, a "pressor beam", the "tractor beam"'s other-direction counterpart, because it pushes. The hollow cylindrical beam pushes inward, while the beam-down-the-middle pushes along the "tube".

  • by jrmcc (703725) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @12:32PM (#33509710)
    can't quite figure out why?
    • +1 attract force!

      These new tractor beams need to have more secure panels designed behind something a bit more daunting than a simple catwalk to the control lever that any old Jedi and get to, even when guarded by several weak-minded Storm Troopers.

      Let's learn from the Emperor's mistake here and improve that design for the future!

  • It seems like this tech would be useful for assembling circuits or computer chips.
    • Once its polished more and can move smaller objects, and do it quickly, then it probably would be a good thing for manufacturing.

      I'm not an engineer however, could someone with some experience in the field of chip manufacturing RTFA and weigh in?

      • by nschubach (922175)

        Chip manufacturing is done via printing transistors rather than assembling them... I think GP was more concerned with the notion of making small components (resistors/capacitors/etc.), but I would think the smaller the component would mean lower power/less usefulness.

        • The way I was envisioning this was more along the lines of printing a la laser printer style, but I suppose it was a passing fancy and the tech won't be useful for that.

          I will settle for Star Trek style tractor beams however.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    should be renamed to "NO Technology" because
    the marketeers are abusing subatomic forces.

    Yours In Novosibirsk,
    K. Trout .

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @12:38PM (#33509808)

    the tractor beam wont be installed until Tuesday.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Tractor beams attract. A flashlight has more in common with a light saber, than this has with a tractor beam.

    Enough with the sensationalism, already. Leave that to the CNNs and Fox News's.. If you don't understand the science in an article, consider waiting for someone smarter than you to post it.

    News for mooncalves. Stuff thats way the fsck beyond your meager comprehension.

    • Exactly. Even if it did attract rather than repel, it works by means of heated air, so any resemblance to a "tractor beam" is in someone's very overactive imagination.
  • by Gotung (571984) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @12:44PM (#33509874)
    Sure moving objects with light is cool, but this is pushing, not pulling.

    This tech will do no good in keeping those pesky rebels from escaping your space station.
    • Surely this tech needs more force.

    • by nschubach (922175)

      But you can use it to keep the rebels off your front lawn! ;)

    • by natehoy (1608657)

      My tractor has a reverse gear. Don't they all? :)

    • by mrzaph0d (25646)

      wow. i just pictured one of these made into a pool cue stick.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Just reverse it -- use dark instead of light -- and it will pull.

      • by FalcDot (1224920)

        Nonono, all you reall need is to create a black hole in the right spot so you can use its gravity to bend your light beam in such a way that it hits the object you'll be 'pulling' from behind and hey presto, you're pushing!

      • Just remember to never ever cross the streams.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Idiomatick (976696)
      Uhhhh it works as a tractor beam just fine. FTFA:
      "The device works by shining a hollow laser beam around tiny glass particles. The air surrounding the particle heats up, while the dark center of the beam stays cool. When the particle starts to drift out of the middle and into the bright laser beam, the force of heated air molecules bouncing around and hitting the particle's surface is enough to nudge it back to the center."

      So if you take two or more lasers place them on opposite sides of where you want t
    • Yeah, if they're about pushing, then I've got a tractor beam unit right here. As a bonus, it blows refreshing air.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by JustOK (667959)

      I made one once that would pull things. Everyone just said it sucked. Then that guy made a Dyson Vacuum Sphere and things got strange.

    • by mcgrew (92797) *

      From TFA it looks like it both pushes and pulls. Really cool tech; if I got the decimal place right it looks like it will move some pea sized objects (if I got it wrong a BB sized object). Only bad thing is it has to be really lightweight, like styrofoam or something. TFA is a good one, it well explains how it. Only think I can't understand is how you make a hollow laser beam?

      If the rebels are REALLY small they won't escape!

    • by syousef (465911)

      Sure moving objects with light is cool, but this is pushing, not pulling.

      I beg to differ. This story summary is all about pulling. Pure masturbation.

    • by ikeman32 (1333971)
      So what you are saying is that Robo Maid has been switch from suck to blow.
  • Nothing close to a tractor beam, as it requires using the properties of heating air to actually move things suspended in the air. A new age fan (http://www.dyson.com/fans/) will do just as good of a job.

    Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the research. It is simply not a tractor beam, or even the beginnings of one.

  • by Philomage (1851668) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @12:55PM (#33510008)
    They should call this an optical pipette. (Yes, I did RTFA, and no, I'm not turning in my nerd card.)
    • by Sulphur (1548251)

      Why not? Random molecules entering the beam would gain heat giving rise to a radial inward airflow (the same one that contains stuff now). Gentle suction and the contents would move. If I had the equipment, I would try it.

    • Or a Bactor Beam.

  • by T Murphy (1054674) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @12:55PM (#33510010) Journal
    FTA:

    Physicists have been able to manipulate tiny particles over miniscule distances by using lasers for years.

    I hope the new tractor beams don't take as long to operate. I don't have that kind of time.

  • As if our country isn't obese enough already. Now we'll eventually have people getting beer and Doritos without even getting their fat asses off the couch.
  • Wouldn't work in space then I guess. Good luck Deathstart/ID4 motherships - Millenium Falcon and are off for a spin... see ya!
    - "Han, V2.0 is out."
    - "Shit, Marching into the detention area is not what I had in mind"...
  • by Richard.Tao (1150683) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @01:07PM (#33510156)
    From the article "Because this technique needs heated gas to push the particles around, it can't work in the vacuum of outer space like the tractor beams in Star Trek."
    Also it needs lasers on both sides of the object and "tiny glass particles" near the object.This technique can in no way mimic the properties of what I consider a tractor bream: a beam of energy that pulls and object toward it. It's just a better way at moving stuff with light, which is still nifty.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      It's the first step. Maybe someone will create a solution similar to X-Ray back scatter.

      In every Sci-Fi show I've seen use one, I can't think of any that just had 1 beam, as oppose to to or more.

  • So, they're using tractors to harvest beans. So what?
  • Step 1: Point tractor beam to your wee-wee (only if you have erectile dificulties and don't feel like taking viagra anymore)
    Step 2: Turn on tractor beam
    Step 3: ???
    Step 4: Profit!
    • in all seriousness, a device could cure cancer or something of similar importance to humanity, but people will first think of sexual applications. :)

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      3. Turn tractor beam off/on several times per second for several minutes, while exclaiming "Look, no hands!"
      4. Money shot!
  • The AIR surrounding the particle heats up, while....

    Meh. Can't use it to snag passing Klingon battlecruisers.

    • by natehoy (1608657)

      By the time the various science fiction series comes around, they'll figure out how to make the beam work in space. If they've solved the whole "sound carrying through a vacuum" thing, and designed inertial dampers and artificial gravity that perfectly compensate for turns so as to cause you to lean over as if you were driving a car fast around a tight turn, tractor beams should be simple.

    • by tmosley (996283)
      Sure you can, you just have to have it mounted next to a compressed air cylinder.
  • Until someone finds a way of using this for porn, its developement will be slow. Star Trek devices may sound cool, but the Internet didn't explode until someone found a way to distribute naughty pictures with it.

  • You mean like this [flickr.com]?

  • *ANOTHER* horribly erroneous SlashDot article title.....

  • DIY laser enthusiasts are already doing this with very light smoke particles. This is using 100mw home built hobbyist lasers from used CD drives, etc.

    http://laserpointerforums.com/f50/optical-trapping-real-laser-tractor-beams-45954.html [laserpointerforums.com]
  • I wonder if they could use this to produce mid air holograms? If they can suspend a single particle and have it glowing like that, then on a larger scale with multiple glowing particles you could build a 3D image without the need of a diffraction medium or vapour as with current mid air displays. Depending on the speed the particles can be manipulated, they could maybe even act as scan line dots.
  • tractor beams attract things... pressor beams push on things...

    Well known in science fiction literature since the early 1930s or so, I think.

    I guess if you are a Tom Swift Jr. fan you'd want to call it a repellatron. As featured in "Tom Swift Jr. and his Repellatron Skyway" for example.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      no it wouldn't.

      Look, I can tell you right now where this will go.
      No matter how much logic you use, it will be called tractor beams because that's what in the public consciousness

      So help yourself now, and tart thinking of it as a negative tractor beam.
      When this develops it will have a scale. +side for pulling things in, negative for pushing and a 0 for holding something 'still'.

  • when I can shoot things with lasers while plowing my field~
    \

  • It is the heated air near the laser beams that moves the particle around, so this would be no use as a tractor beam in space, alas.

  • Are they related to midiclorians? If so, I think I figured out why this really worked... it wasn't the tools the scientists were using, the bacterium were moving *themselves*! :-O

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