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25 January 2013

A team of scientists have created a real-life miniature "tractor beam" in another displaying of Science Fiction becoming Science Fact.

The microscopic beam, created by scientists from Scotland and the Czech Republic, allows a source of light to attract objects.

Light manipulation techniques have existed since the 1970s, but researchers say the experiment is the first instance of a beam being used to draw objects towards light.

Researchers from the University of St Andrews and the Institute of Scientific Instruments (ISI) in the Czech Republic say development of the beam may be an aid to medical testing, such as in the examination of blood samples.

Normally, when matter and light interact, a solid object is pushed by the light and carried away in a stream of photons.

However, in recent years, researchers have realised that there is a space of parameters when this force reverses.

The scientists have now demonstrated the first experimental realisation of the concept.

Professor Pavel Zemanek of the ISI said:

"The whole team have spent a number of years investigating various configurations of particles delivery by light. I am proud our results were recognised in this very competitive environment and I am looking forward to new experiments and applications. It is a very exciting time."

Dr Oto Brzobohaty, also of the ISI, said:

"These methods are opening new opportunities for fundamental phonics as well as applications for life-sciences."

Doctor Who itself has seen several instances in its 50-year history, where tractor beams have been used.

In the 1977, 4th Doctor adventure 'The Creature From The Pit' the TARDIS tractor beam is used to tow a neutron star and reverse its direction.

In the 2006, 10th Doctor adventure, 'The Satan Pit' the TARDIS tractor beam is used to save the Sanctuary Base 6 rocket.

[Source: Sky News]

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