Quantcast
Connect with us

Tractor beams of science fiction becoming a reality

Published

on

The tractor beam, a staple of science fiction including “Star Wars” and “Star Trek” that is employed to grab spaceships and other things remotely, is entering the realm of reality.

Researchers on Tuesday said they have developed a tractor beam that uses high-amplitude sound waves to levitate, move and rotate small objects without making contact with them. They envisioned medical and other applications for the device.

ADVERTISEMENT

“As a mechanical wave, sound can exert significant forces on objects. Just remember the last time you were in a concert and your chest was vibrating with the music,” said study lead author Asier Marzo of Britain’s University of Bristol and Spain’s Public University of Navarre.

Marzo said this sonic tractor beam has manipulated objects up to about one-seventh of an inch (4 mm) in diameter and can control the position and orientation of the levitated objects.

The tractor beam uses ultrasound at a frequency of 40 kilohertz. People can hear only below 20 kilohertz.

The researchers used sound waves from 64 miniature loudspeakers called transducers to create what they called “acoustic holograms” to control an object without touching it. These waves took the form of tweezers to lift an object, a vortex to hold a levitating object in place and a cage to surrounds an object and hold it in place.

“A simple wave will just push the particle in the direction of propagation. However, multiple waves will interfere with each other and create complex, acoustic 3D shapes that exert forces from all directions and keep the particle in place,” Marzo said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Marzo said the largest object moved using the device was a 4 mm bead made of a light plastic called polystyrene.

“With special high-power transducers it would be possible to levitate even steel balls,” Marzo said.

Marzo described possible medical applications.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Sound cannot travel through the void of space but it can do it through water or human tissue. This potentially enables the manipulation of clots, kidney stones, drug capsules, microsurgical instruments or cells inside our body without any incision,” Marzo said.

More powerful sonic tractor beams capable of levitating bigger objects from greater distances could control objects floating adrift in zero-gravity environments like inside the International Space Station, Marzo said.

ADVERTISEMENT

The research, which also involved researchers at Sussex University and a British company called Ultrahaptics, was published in the journal Nature Communications.

(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Sandra Maler)


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump hammered by ex-intel officials for sucking up to the Saudis after Florida naval base shooting

Published

on

President Donald Trump is taking heat from former U.S. intelligence officials for taking a very soft tone with the Saudi government after Friday’s shooting at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida.

Not long after the shooter was identified as a second lieutenant in the Saudi Arabian military, the president tweeted out words of sympathy from the Saudi king after a phonecall, writing, "The King said that the Saudi people are greatly angered by the barbaric actions of the shooter, and that this person in no way shape or form represents the feelings of the Saudi people who love the American people."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Former right-wing presidential candidate scamming Americans with toxic bleach cure

Published

on

Former diplomat and Reagan adviser Alan Keyes is a well-known gadfly who has run multiple times for president and for Senate, most famously against future President Barack Obama in 2004.

But lately, according to The Daily Beast, he has been involved in a different pursuit: the promotion of a dangerous pseudoscience scam known as the "Miracle Mineral Solution," or MMS.

The substance, which is actually just the powerful bleach chlorine dioxide, is supposedly a cure for everything from viral infections to infertility, and there was even a cultlike church known as the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, that promoted it as a gift from God. MMS has particularly taken root in developing countries like Uganda, but it also has a following in the United States, and many autistic children have been forced to drink it. Versions of this scam have even been promoted on Amazon.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

American exceptionalism is killing the planet

Published

on

Ever since 2007, when I first started writing for TomDispatch, I’ve been arguing against America’s forever wars, whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, or elsewhere. Unfortunately, it’s no surprise that, despite my more than 60 articles, American blood is still being spilled in war after war across the Greater Middle East and Africa, even as foreign peoples pay a far higher price in lives lost and cities ruined. And I keep asking myself: Why, in this century, is the distinctive feature of America's wars that they never end? Why do our leaders persist in such repetitive folly and the seemingly eternal disasters that go with it?

Continue Reading