Exerting Control on Floating Object: Water Tractor Beam


With the use of simple wave generators, experts at the Australian National University, Canberra have demonstrated the idea of manipulating floating object in water. The same approach has also helped them in moving the object against the course of the waves.

In order to display the phenomenon, the team placed a ping-pong ball in a tank containing water. Then three-dimensional waves were produced which in turn created patterns on the water surface and consequently, the ball stayed in one position or move towards or receded away from the wave generator depending upon the force applied by the generator.

Water currents were captured and then visualized by advanced particle tracking tools. The device helped them in getting precision of the water movements, so that accuracy in control can be reached and hence control the object’s movement on the surface of water. Michael Shats, one of the lead researcher said that the three- dimensional waves create a pattern, which could make the object flow towards it, recedes the object, or even create a whirlpool.

However, the scientists are still not clear of the mathematics behind the phenomena. They have dubbed it under unanswered puzzles about science claiming that it can be produced by anyone in bathtub.

They envision that if scaled up, the technique might come up with solutions to oil spills and in retrieving malfunctioning ships. At the same time, it would also help in understanding the water currents especially the rip tide.

Source: The Australian National University

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