All things random and shiny
From the “Make it So” Department of “I Watched too Much Star Trek as a Child and Only Went into Science Because of it” University, comes news that scientists at the University of Saint Andrews are testing a Star Trek style tractor beam.
The technique uses light beams to attract matter, in a way that is pretty counter intuitive. Both articles below describe how photons push a comet’s tail away from the sun, but the research team, led by Dr. Tomas Cizmar, found a way to use this same force to attract particles. The actual article (which I am probably too dumb to understand anyhoo) is hidden behind a paywall. So if anyone can explain this process to me like I was five, please feel free to do so.
Before you get too excited though, the process produces massive amounts of heat, so cannot be used on larger objects. For now, it is limited for use on microscopic objects. One of the commentors over at the National Post suggested we use it to deal with our huge cloud of satellite-threatening space waste. The lead researcher of the project suggests a more modest use: separating white blood cells from blood. So, still a long way to go before we can pull planet-threatening asteroids off course or any other cool Star Trek-y things.
But it’s a start right?
BBC news reports it here.
Canada’s National Post has a go.
Paywall-y article here.