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Reg Lecture explores tractor beam tech...

A tractor beam from NASA space documentary: Star Trek, The Next Generation

The benefits of tractor beam technology are well known - out-running delinquents on your hoverboard, hurling enemies around at a distance, and of course, capturing fleeing rebel spacecraft.

While the principles of the technology are reasonably understood, to date boffins have struggled to move anything substantial. Until now, that is.

Engineers at the University of Bristol recently demonstrated it’s possible to trap objects larger than the wavelength of a sound wave using an acoustic tractor beam.

They employed a rotating sound field using 40kHz ultrasonic waves – a pitch usually employed by bats - to suspend a 2cm polystyrene ball.

Join Dr Asier Marzo, one of those behind this breakthrough, on Wednesday 23 May as he explains to Reg readers the working principles of acoustic levitation and its applications and challenges. There will be live demonstrations and the audience will learn how to build their own levitators at home.

Dr Marzo is a research associate at the University of Bristol and a member of the department of mechanical engineering, ultrasonic and non-destructive testing. He has spoken and written widely on the topic of acoustic levitation and physics of trapping and controlling particles.

The venue is the Rugby Tavern, 19 Great James St, London WC1N 3ES, London, on 23 May – next Wednesday. The doors will be open from 6.30pm, with the lecture starting 7pm. After about 45 minutes, we’ll take a break for some nibbles, before diving into a no-holds-barred Q&A.

Even without the live demos, this promises to be a fascinating evening, and we hope you can join us.

Full details, including tickets, here.

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