Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Physicists create water tractor beam

11.08.2014

Complex waves generate flow patterns that could be used to manipulate floating objects or explain rips at the beach


Physicists at the Australian National University have created a tractor beam in water. Using a simple wave generator they can create water currents which could be used to confine oil spills, manipulate floating objects or explain rips at the beach.

Credit: ANU Multimedia Team

Physicists at The Australian National University (ANU) have created a tractor beam on water, providing a radical new technique that could confine oil spills, manipulate floating objects or explain rips at the beach.

The group, led by Professor Michael Shats discovered they can control water flow patterns with simple wave generators, enabling them to move floating objects at will.

"We have figured out a way of creating waves that can force a floating object to move against the direction of the wave," said Dr Horst Punzmann, from the Research School of Physics and Engineering, who led the project.

"No one could have guessed this result," he said.

The new 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.

Using a ping-pong ball in a wave tank, the group worked out the size and frequency of the waves required to move the ball in whichever direction they want.

Advanced particle tracking tools, developed by team members Dr Nicolas Francois and Dr Hua Xia, revealed that the waves generate currents on the surface of the water.

"We found that above a certain height, these complex three-dimensional waves generate flow patterns on the surface of the water," Professor Shats said. "The tractor beam is just one of the patterns, they can be inward flows, outward flows or vortices."

The team also experimented with different shaped plungers to generate different swirling flow patterns.

As yet no mathematical theory can explain these experiments, Dr Punzmann said.

"It's one of the great unresolved problems, yet anyone in the bathtub can reproduce it. We were very surprised no one had described it before."

Michael Shats | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.anu.edu.au

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht New experiment provides route to macroscopic high-mass superpositions
24.10.2014 | University of Southampton

nachricht Big Black Holes Can Block New Stars
23.10.2014 | Johns Hopkins University

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Comparing Apples and Oranges? A Colloquium on International Comparative Urban Research

22.10.2014 | Event News

Battery Conference April 2015 in Aachen

16.10.2014 | Event News

Experts discuss new developments in the field of stem cell research and cell therapy

10.10.2014 | Event News

 
Latest News

Precise and programmable biological circuits

24.10.2014 | Life Sciences

Desert Streams: Deceptively Simple

24.10.2014 | Earth Sciences

Modernized stainless steel continuous caster from Siemens goes on stream at Posco

24.10.2014 | Press release

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>