Feeds

ANU boffins demo 'tractor beam' in water

The current state of the art, apparently

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Video The Starship Enterprise won't be deploying a tractor beam in space any time soon, but in what could be a boon for people trying to control oil spills, Australian National University physicists have created a tractor beam in water with simple wave generators.

Their demonstration (video at the bottom) shows the ANU boffins controlling the movements of ping-pong balls on waves in water: as well as moving in the direction of the wave (as you'd expect), the ball can be held stationary or made to move against the wave.

The secret is the way waves create small surface currents on the water. The ANU's announcement says that particle tracking tools developed Dr Nicolas Francis and Dr Hua Xia revealed these surface currents, giving them the key to exploiting them to control the balls' motion.

In the demonstration video, the researchers vary the size and frequency of the waves to create the currents needed to control the balls.

Team leader professor Michael Shats explains that “above a certain height, these complex three-dimensional waves generate flow patterns on the surface of the water. The tractor beam is just one of the patterns, they can be inward flows, outward flows or vortices.”

Having observed the phenomenon, the researchers say one of the next steps will be to create a mathematical theory to explain what's going on (which would help improve the behaviour of the “tractor beam” in future iterations). ®

Youtube Video

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.