Holy moly: tractor beams are now a real, existing thing

Tractor beams, the sort of thing that large spaceships use to pull in smaller spaceships in sci-fi movies, are no longer in the realm of fantasy. Yes, researchers at the Australian National University have created a device that can move small particles multiple feet using only light. Wow.

Here's how it works:

The device works by shining a hollow laser beam around tiny glass particles. The air surrounding the particle heats up, while the dark center of the beam stays cool. When the particle starts to drift out of the middle and into the bright laser beam, the force of heated air molecules bouncing around and hitting the particle's surface is enough to nudge it back to the center.
Sure, it's not powerful enough to, say, lift your neighbor's car into the air and then drop it in their pool. But someday!

Physorg, via Slashdot

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