back to article ANU boffins demo 'tractor beam' in water

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 …

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Neat.

Exploiting longitudinal waves in water seems a very under studied area of science to me.

A while back a team worked out that you could focus water waves on a tidal power site by simply sticking a pattern of posts in the water. Effectively creating a watery phased array system.

Thumbs up for this and a hope it becomes available for the next big spill.

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Re: Neat.

You can do quite interesting things with water waves - even make an expanding ripple pattern reform back down to a point again ... and again and gain and again.

http://arxiv.org/abs/1206.0003

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The Glass half full...

Wouldn't it be better to NOT hope for... The next big spill... to ever happen?

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Re: The Glass half full...

Really, you're advocating for wishing over research into mitigation for something we all know will happen again?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: advocating for wishing over research

... well, it is a strategy widely used by at least one side of the anthropogenic climate change debate :-)

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That works fine in a tank of still water. But they seem to generate the wave patterns by moving a block in the water. What happens when they try to collect oil in the open sea? They have to somehow allow for the existing waves when moving their generator. Not impossible but very tricky, especially sensing just what those waves are doing in time to modify their generator's movements.

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Anonymous Coward

Not *that* tricky, you just have floats to move blocks in line with the waves. As long as they are short enough sections the should be possible.

Alternatively you could produce the waves using a sound generator perhaps.

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I was wondering along the same lines, in particular how much this relies on the standing waves that are formed due to the tank shape, maybe you could use multiple generators. Should probably hunt down their paper on it...

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Automation

Once they can get the theory and formulae down pat all they need to do is just add more compute power to allow for more complicated real-time calculations.

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No, not a sound generator if you want any fish/sea life to stay alive. I'd hate to know the size and DB required for sound that loud to move "waves". :O

Moving blocks/buoys though have a much more easily survivable waveform.

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Coat

So, the Empire starts in Australia

We are now on the first step of tractor beam technology. We just might be on the verge of fuel-less propulsion drives for space travel. All we need active shields to complete the picture, and Future Space here we come* !

*served with loads and loads of optimism

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Re: So, the Empire starts in Australia

+ space elevator so we can get all that stuff up out of the gravity well ...

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Re: So, the Empire starts in Australia

Never understood the difficulty of making a space elevator... just get an old satellite, tie a bit of heatproofed rope to it and jump off back to Earth - tie to post - job done. How hard can it be? *insert troll face here*

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Re: So, the Empire starts in Australia

In principle it is that simple.

In practice things like the weight of the rope and issues with moving weights up and down it and its strength come into play.

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Re: So, the Empire starts in Australia

Never spoil a perfect operational plan with sordid considerationa of reality.

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+ Space elivator...

Who needs a space elevator when you generate [anti] gravitational waves to levitate! :D

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Anonymous Coward

"to create the currents needed to control the balls"

In Central America they wire a car battery to the prisoner's balls....

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Unhappy

Oh dear god

that background music...

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