Beam me up, Scotty? NASA is funding projects to develop tractor beams. “Though a mainstay in science fiction, and Star Trek in particular, laser-based trapping isn’t fanciful or beyond current technological know-how”.
Three techniques are being considered. Optical tweezers use lasers to confine particles to the dark core of overlapping beams, then by altering the intensity of the beams heat the air around the particle and move it. This method requires an atmosphere and is already used by biophysicists to trap, move and extend individual DNA molecules, proteins or cells. A second method, optical solenoid beams , relies solely on electromagnetic effects and could operate in vacuum. Then there is the Bessel beam , still only theoretical and described poetically as ripples spreading from a pebble thrown in a pond. See the short video for explanation.
More here: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/technology/features/tractor-beam.html
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Hey Konstantin Makov , enjoyed your recent Sting and PF posts 🙂
Pythia Theocritos , on an earlier post just this morning Kershaw Rustomji remarked that everything from Star Trek would be manifest in our time. 🙂
not sure about the transporter beam from Star Trek but the cloaking device and the tracker beam might. We all know our “communicators” do way more than Kirk’s ever did.
Pythia Theocritos , yes..I wasn’t quite accurate in my lede was I? Tractor beam vs. Transporter 🙂
“Though a mainstay in science fiction, and Star Trek in particular, laser-based trapping isn’t fanciful or beyond current technological know-how”.
Sure! I still think they still have a long way to go.Not in our life time. 🙂
Tom Lee My understanding is that they should be able to scoop up small debris or particles in space for sampling with developing technology. Optical tweezers are pretty widely used in my field to study single molecule behavior. As for transporting ourselves, we’ll have to stick to Star Trek reruns! 🙂
Rajini Rao I really like the S T reruns part. 🙂
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Arthur C. Clarke
That’s why i love sci-fi 🙂
Hogol Lenimar i Keskener , I could have used that quote when I saw a report of a laser so strong that it was like having all the sun’s energy in a pinhead so as to “boil vacuum”. http://goo.gl/Qsllz
Pythia Theocritos , I’ll check with Scotty and get right back to you….