Beam me up, Scotty?

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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11 Responses to Beam me up, Scotty?

  1. Rajini Rao says:


    Hey Konstantin Makov , enjoyed your recent Sting and PF posts ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Rajini Rao says:


    Pythia Theocritos , on an earlier post just this morning Kershaw Rustomji remarked that everything from Star Trek would be manifest in our time. ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. 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.

  4. Rajini Rao says:


    Pythia Theocritos , yes..I wasn’t quite accurate in my lede was I? Tractor beam vs. Transporter ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Tom Lee says:


    “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. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Rajini Rao says:


    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! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Tom Lee says:


    Rajini Rao I really like the S T reruns part. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Joan Hogol says:


    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.


    Arthur C. Clarke


    That’s why i love sci-fi ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Rajini Rao says:


    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

  10. Rajini Rao says:


    Pythia Theocritos , I’ll check with Scotty and get right back to you….


    ๐Ÿ˜€

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