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Australian scientists create sci-fi-like 'water tractor beam' that can move floating objects at will


Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist, theweathernetwork.com

Tuesday, August 12, 2014, 10:15 AM - A research team at Australian National University have produced something remarkable. In essence, they have created a tractor beam, something really only seen in science fiction so far, but rather than using energy, they've done it using water.

According to the ANU website: "The team, led by Dr Horst Punzmann, discovered they can control water flow patterns with simple wave generators, enabling them to move floating objects at will. The team also experimented with different shaped plungers to generate different swirling flow patterns. The surprisingly simple technique gives scientists a way of controlling things adrift on water in a way they have never had before, resembling sci-fi tractor beams that draw in objects."

The video above just demonstrates the concept using a ping pong ball, but this could be very useful in applications like containing and moving oil spills, moving damaged or drifting ships, or anything else that would benefit from creating specific flow-patterns in the water. Although not mentioned, this might even be useful for applications like power generation.

The experiments are only small-scale at the moment, but with a proof of concept behind them now, this will very likely be scaled up from here!

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