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  • Water-based Tractor Beam

    Water-based Tractor Beam

    A team of scientists from the Australian Nation university in Canberra have developed a technique using simple wave generators called " Water-based Tractor beam" which could confine oil spills, retrieve malfunctioning ships and can track the behavior of dangerous rip current.

    The technique drags floating objects in a body of water and can even move them against the direction of the waves.

    They illustrate the technique by using a ping-pong ball floating in three dimensional wave in a water tank. By adjusting the size and frequency, they were able to create patterns in the water to keep the ball in one place, or move it towards or away from the wave generator, just like a 'tractor beam' straight out of science fiction. Advanced particle tracking tools were used to visualize how the waves were generating currents and flow patterns on the surface of the water so the team could more precisely manipulate the ball's movements.

    It sounds so simple - in fact, you can recreate the experiment at home - but even the scientists who achieved the technique canít explain the mathematics behind it. "It's one of the great unresolved problems, yet anyone in the bathtub can reproduce it," said one of the team, physicist Horst Punzmann. "We were very surprised no one had described it before."

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