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Tractor Beams Come To Life

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the da-da-da-dadada-dadada dept.

Science 127

Jamie is helping bring our childhood fantasies/nightmares to life with a link that says "Andrei Rhode, a researcher involved with the project, said that existing optical tweezers are able to move particles the size of a bacterium a few millimeters in a liquid. Their new technique can move objects one hundred times that size over a distance of a meter or more."

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Pfft. (4, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#33509648)

Until the bacterium reroute the main power conduits through the deflector beam to create an inverse tachyon pulse. Then what?

Re:Pfft. (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#33509704)

Until the bacterium reroute the main power conduits through the deflector beam to create an inverse tachyon pulse. Then what?

That's assuming they can use their collective consciousness to organize to do that.

Re:Pfft. (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510684)

That's assuming they can use their collective consciousness to organize to do that.

Why not? Your brain cells are doing just that. How's it feel to be the collective consciousness of a bunch of unicellular clones?

Re:Pfft. (1)

kdemetter (965669) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511604)

Yes , and we could call them "The Borg" , but that would be a trademark violation.

Re:Pfft. (1)

pmontra (738736) | more than 3 years ago | (#33509738)

Reversing the polarity is easier.

Re:Pfft. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33512358)

Just don't cross the beams. Oh, wrong movie, sorry

Re:Pfft. (4, Insightful)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33509838)

Until the bacterium reroute the main power conduits through the deflector beam to create an inverse tachyon pulse. Then what?

I think you meant deflector array. Otherwise there's no way such a silly thing could happen. :p

Re:Pfft. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33509888)

Until the bacterium reroute the main power conduits through the deflector beam to create an inverse tachyon pulse. Then what?

Like putting too much air in a balloon!

Re:Pfft. (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510560)

Doesn't matter, we're all stuck in the holodeck.

Re:Pfft. (1)

cygnwolf (601176) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511356)

That's not reassuring, the safety interlocks are off.

Re:Pfft. (1)

jpedlow (1154099) | more than 3 years ago | (#33512616)

ITS OK,

Professor Moriarty will save us.

if not, then my friend Reg Barkley will hook his brain into the holodeck and become the new computer core. he's always on the holodeck anyway, right guys?

Re:Pfft. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33511410)

Oh, I'm sure Data will come up with something about the 35 minutes after the crisis is identified.

Too late (2, Informative)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 3 years ago | (#33513448)

Listen, no one's left to care about bacteria. By the time the tractor beam has come to life, even the captain has already abandoned ship.

I mean, seriously... even in the wildest sci-fi show, did you EVER hear of a tractor beam COMING TO LIFE?!

Agriculture (1)

beschra (1424727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33509696)

For some reason I thought of farm implements when I saw "tractor." Didn't make a whole lot of sense.

Re:Agriculture (1)

BitHive (578094) | more than 3 years ago | (#33509800)

No kidding. This should've been called a 'tweezer beam'

Re:Agriculture (2, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510378)

Han Solo: "We're caught in a tweezer beam, it's pulling us in!"

No, it just doesn't work. Just doesn't set up the scene correctly at all.

Re:Agriculture (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510664)

Lone Star: "We're caught in a tweezer beam, it's pulling us in!"

Does that work better?

Re:Agriculture (3, Funny)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510676)

Han Solo: "We're caught in a tweezer beam, it's pulling us in!" No, it just doesn't work. Just doesn't set up the scene correctly at all.

Sure it does. A maid with a vacuum cleaner large enough to destroy a planet would also have a tweezer beam large enough for one little ship.

Re:Agriculture (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511966)

(Wil Wheaton quotes a Star Wars line)
Sheldon: That's not even your franchise!

[Okay, Spaceballs was a parody of Wars, so this kind of fits.]

Re:Agriculture (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510746)

So... Why did the Death Star capture Millenium Falcon? They destroyed Alderaan to invoke terror; wouldn't they want as many ships as possible to spread the word that it's gone?

Mr. Lucas, is this another instance of making someone else shoot first?

Re:Agriculture (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511034)

They knew the plans for the death star were on that ship and since a high ranking politician was on board they couldn't just destroy it right away.

Re:Agriculture (2, Interesting)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#33512072)

They knew the plans for the death star were on that ship and since a high ranking politician was on board they couldn't just destroy it right away.

What high-ranking politician? The only people on the ship at that point were Obi-Wan, Luke, Han, Chewie, R2-D2 and 3-CPO. None of them were politicians.

Besides, if the Empire was willing to blow up an entire planet, I doubt they'd spare a ship either. It simply doesn't make sense. Unless, of course, Han shot first and Lucas simply cut that from the movie.

Re:Agriculture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33510990)

It might work in the porn industry...

Re:Agriculture (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511244)

Now that they have a tractor beam, will a trailor beam come soon?

Strangely drawn to this story... (5, Funny)

jrmcc (703725) | more than 3 years ago | (#33509710)

can't quite figure out why?

Re:Strangely drawn to this story... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33509820)

Because it's a shitty title to a story about advances in optical tweezers which need an ambient gas like air to work and has nothing to do with tractor beams in space (like TFA says)? And you just want to make a shitty pun, which will no doubt be followed up with another shitty pun about ambient gas?

My cheerios, there is piss in them.

Re:Strangely drawn to this story... (2, Insightful)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33509890)

If somebody makes a beam that can move something bigger than a bacterium around I'll be impressed whether it works in space or not.

As for your cheerios, perhaps you should label your liquids better.

Re:Strangely drawn to this story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33510164)

Ever see a can of compressed air move things? Same basic principle of pressure changes to move things.

Re:Strangely drawn to this story... (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510246)

Ever see a can of compressed air move things? Same basic principle of pressure changes to move things.

Fascinating, thanks for the explanation. You win this round, AC.

Re:Strangely drawn to this story... (1)

itlurksbeneath (952654) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510610)

Did you read TFA? Previously: particles the size of a bacterium a few millimeters in a liquid. And now: new technique can move objects one hundred times that size over a distance of a meter or more

Hell, that was even copy/pasted from the summary. You didn't even read TFS

Re:Strangely drawn to this story... (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 3 years ago | (#33509910)

That is a mighty shitty smelling ambient gas you are spewing there.

Re:Strangely drawn to this story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33510440)

Didn't you watch Dr. Plait's lecture Don't be a Dick [discovermagazine.com] ? Your sig helps nobody

Re:Strangely drawn to this story... (1)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510586)

Your sig helps nobody

Neither does appeasement.

Re:Strangely drawn to this story... (3, Funny)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511648)

I did not realize that every aspect of my life needs to be devoted toward helping some other person out.

Wow!
This means a major change for me!
The toilet paper I choose seems to help nothing.
93.7% of my /. posts help no one.
I watched the news last night. No one helped there.
I failed to watch some lecture. No helping there.
This post.

You are so right. Have no more time for anything now that I have seen the light.

Oh wait.
I meant to say.
Fuck off.

Re:Strangely drawn to this story... (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#33509958)

shitty pun about ambient gas

No point now, you've already made it.

Re:Strangely drawn to this story... (1)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510386)

+1 attract force!

These new tractor beams need to have more secure panels designed behind something a bit more daunting than a simple catwalk to the control lever that any old Jedi and get to, even when guarded by several weak-minded Storm Troopers.

Let's learn from the Emperor's mistake here and improve that design for the future!

Assembling circuits? (1)

Covalent (1001277) | more than 3 years ago | (#33509728)

It seems like this tech would be useful for assembling circuits or computer chips.

Re:Assembling circuits? (1)

Ironhandx (1762146) | more than 3 years ago | (#33509802)

Once its polished more and can move smaller objects, and do it quickly, then it probably would be a good thing for manufacturing.

I'm not an engineer however, could someone with some experience in the field of chip manufacturing RTFA and weigh in?

Re:Assembling circuits? (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#33509972)

Chip manufacturing is done via printing transistors rather than assembling them... I think GP was more concerned with the notion of making small components (resistors/capacitors/etc.), but I would think the smaller the component would mean lower power/less usefulness.

Re:Assembling circuits? (1)

Ironhandx (1762146) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510108)

The way I was envisioning this was more along the lines of printing a la laser printer style, but I suppose it was a passing fancy and the tech won't be useful for that.

I will settle for Star Trek style tractor beams however.

NaNOtechnology ( +5, Informative ) (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33509782)

should be renamed to "NO Technology" because
the marketeers are abusing subatomic forces.

Yours In Novosibirsk,
K. Trout .

Re:NaNOtechnology ( +5, Informative ) (1)

jgtg32a (1173373) | more than 3 years ago | (#33513854)

Did you just post Anon and mod yourself up?

Yeah, but... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33509808)

the tractor beam wont be installed until Tuesday.

Sounds like this repulses (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33509814)

Tractor beams attract. A flashlight has more in common with a light saber, than this has with a tractor beam.

Enough with the sensationalism, already. Leave that to the CNNs and Fox News's.. If you don't understand the science in an article, consider waiting for someone smarter than you to post it.

News for mooncalves. Stuff thats way the fsck beyond your meager comprehension.

Aren't tractor beams all about pulling? (4, Insightful)

Gotung (571984) | more than 3 years ago | (#33509874)

Sure moving objects with light is cool, but this is pushing, not pulling.

This tech will do no good in keeping those pesky rebels from escaping your space station.

Re:Aren't tractor beams all about pulling? (1)

fabioalcor (1663783) | more than 3 years ago | (#33509964)

Surely this tech needs more force.

Re:Aren't tractor beams all about pulling? (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#33509986)

But you can use it to keep the rebels off your front lawn! ;)

Re:Aren't tractor beams all about pulling? (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510024)

My tractor has a reverse gear. Don't they all? :)

Re:Aren't tractor beams all about pulling? (1)

LiENUS (207736) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511282)

Mine has 2 reverse gears, goes forward if you engage both.

Re:Aren't tractor beams all about pulling? (1)

mrzaph0d (25646) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510052)

wow. i just pictured one of these made into a pool cue stick.

Just reverse it (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33510198)

Just reverse it -- use dark instead of light -- and it will pull.

Re:Just reverse it (1)

FalcDot (1224920) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511010)

Nonono, all you reall need is to create a black hole in the right spot so you can use its gravity to bend your light beam in such a way that it hits the object you'll be 'pulling' from behind and hey presto, you're pushing!

Re:Just reverse it (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511018)

Just remember to never ever cross the streams.

Re:Aren't tractor beams all about pulling? (2, Insightful)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510218)

Uhhhh it works as a tractor beam just fine. FTFA:
"The device works by shining a hollow laser beam around tiny glass particles. The air surrounding the particle heats up, while the dark center of the beam stays cool. When the particle starts to drift out of the middle and into the bright laser beam, the force of heated air molecules bouncing around and hitting the particle's surface is enough to nudge it back to the center."

So if you take two or more lasers place them on opposite sides of where you want to pull something. Point the lasers at the object. Then slowly turn the beams towards the middle. Tada. You've pulled your object to you.

In other news, I only use repulsive forces on with hand to pick up things (other forces too minor to consider), yet some how I still manage to pull things towards myself.

Re:Aren't tractor beams all about pulling? (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510232)

*with my hand

Re:Aren't tractor beams all about pulling? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510564)

Hey look!

A radiometer [einsteinstoolbox.com]

Re:Aren't tractor beams all about pulling? (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511352)

Einstein Stool Box? WTF?

Re:Aren't tractor beams all about pulling? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510328)

Yeah, if they're about pushing, then I've got a tractor beam unit right here. As a bonus, it blows refreshing air.

Re:Aren't tractor beams all about pulling? (2, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510468)

I made one once that would pull things. Everyone just said it sucked. Then that guy made a Dyson Vacuum Sphere and things got strange.

Re:Aren't tractor beams all about pulling? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510562)

From TFA it looks like it both pushes and pulls. Really cool tech; if I got the decimal place right it looks like it will move some pea sized objects (if I got it wrong a BB sized object). Only bad thing is it has to be really lightweight, like styrofoam or something. TFA is a good one, it well explains how it. Only think I can't understand is how you make a hollow laser beam?

If the rebels are REALLY small they won't escape!

Re:Aren't tractor beams all about pulling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33510596)

No but if you installed one in your ventilation trench, you could push those pesky X-Wings back into the photon beams.

Re:Aren't tractor beams all about pulling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33513856)

In Star Trek, tractor beams can repulse as well as attract. So, what's your point?

Optical tweezers can pull (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33514026)

If you use a high numerical aperture beam, by changing the focal position, you can move a bead in three dimensions, including towards the laser itself. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_tweezers

Tractor beams pull I thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33509892)

As stated by the commenter in the article, don't tractor beams pull in most sci-fi stories? Pushing and pulling are two different things.

Re:Tractor beams pull I thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33510308)

You just need to put the technobabble generator into reverse.

Re:Tractor beams pull I thought (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511694)

Get your technobabble right, you need to reverse the polarity on the technobabble generator.

Requires Air...lame (1)

coolsnowmen (695297) | more than 3 years ago | (#33509906)

Nothing close to a tractor beam, as it requires using the properties of heating air to actually move things suspended in the air. A new age fan (http://www.dyson.com/fans/) will do just as good of a job.

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the research. It is simply not a tractor beam, or even the beginnings of one.

This is great news for the farmers! (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | more than 3 years ago | (#33509934)

What?!

From the Description... (3, Informative)

Philomage (1851668) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510008)

They should call this an optical pipette. (Yes, I did RTFA, and no, I'm not turning in my nerd card.)

Hope you can wait (5, Funny)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510010)

FTA:

Physicists have been able to manipulate tiny particles over miniscule distances by using lasers for years.

I hope the new tractor beams don't take as long to operate. I don't have that kind of time.

Just what this country needs... (1)

Last_Available_Usern (756093) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510090)

As if our country isn't obese enough already. Now we'll eventually have people getting beer and Doritos without even getting their fat asses off the couch.

Re:Just what this country needs... (2, Funny)

Coder4Life (1396697) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510172)

As if our country isn't obese enough already. Now we'll eventually have people getting beer and Doritos without even getting their fat asses off the couch.

Who needs a tractor beam when you have a wife to do this?

Re:Just what this country needs... (1)

Schemat1c (464768) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510542)

Who needs a tractor beam when you have a wife to do this?

Wife? I think you forget where you are.

Re:Just what this country needs... (1)

Coder4Life (1396697) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511206)

Who needs a tractor beam when you have a wife to do this?

Wife? I think you forget where you are.

Well played my good friend, well played...

Does this mean I'm going to get down modded because it won't apply to 70% of /.ers?

"Works by heating the air" (1)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510154)

Wouldn't work in space then I guess. Good luck Deathstart/ID4 motherships - Millenium Falcon and are off for a spin... see ya!
- "Han, V2.0 is out."
- "Shit, Marching into the detention area is not what I had in mind"...

Re:"Works by heating the air" (1)

Nrrqshrr (1879148) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510204)

Well isn't it normally much easier in space? Though there is still this big difference between pulling and pushing.

Not Really a Tractor Beam... (4, Informative)

Richard.Tao (1150683) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510156)

From the article "Because this technique needs heated gas to push the particles around, it can't work in the vacuum of outer space like the tractor beams in Star Trek."
Also it needs lasers on both sides of the object and "tiny glass particles" near the object.This technique can in no way mimic the properties of what I consider a tractor bream: a beam of energy that pulls and object toward it. It's just a better way at moving stuff with light, which is still nifty.

Re:Not Really a Tractor Beam... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33510402)

From the article "Because this technique needs heated gas to push the particles around, it can't work in the vacuum of outer space like the tractor beams in Star Trek."

Also it needs lasers on both sides of the object and "tiny glass particles" near the object.This technique can in no way mimic the properties of what I consider a tractor bream: a beam of energy that pulls and object toward it. It's just a better way at moving stuff with light, which is still nifty.

Tractor beams in ST:TNG can push as well as pull :3

Re:Not Really a Tractor Beam... (1)

yabos (719499) | more than 3 years ago | (#33513510)

Yeah, just remember to engage it quick enough. Otherwise a ship might crash into your warp nacelle sending you into an infinite time loop.

Tractor beans (1)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510262)

So, they're using tractors to harvest beans. So what?

Profit! (1)

PmanAce (1679902) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510348)

Step 1: Point tractor beam to your wee-wee (only if you have erectile dificulties and don't feel like taking viagra anymore)
Step 2: Turn on tractor beam
Step 3: ???
Step 4: Profit!

Re:Profit! (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511998)

in all seriousness, a device could cure cancer or something of similar importance to humanity, but people will first think of sexual applications. :)

FAIL: doesn't work in space! (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510356)

The AIR surrounding the particle heats up, while....

Meh. Can't use it to snag passing Klingon battlecruisers.

Re:FAIL: doesn't work in space! (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510700)

By the time the various science fiction series comes around, they'll figure out how to make the beam work in space. If they've solved the whole "sound carrying through a vacuum" thing, and designed inertial dampers and artificial gravity that perfectly compensate for turns so as to cause you to lean over as if you were driving a car fast around a tight turn, tractor beams should be simple.

Re:FAIL: doesn't work in space! (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511416)

Sure you can, you just have to have it mounted next to a compressed air cylinder.

Re:FAIL: doesn't work in space! (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511522)

So... you're saying replace one warp nacelle with a giant balloon-filler?

actually space is much easier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33513264)

all you need to do is fire a high intensity broadband stream of electrons at something and it will gradually move as there's no friction in space and also obviously no gravity

Until (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510368)

Until someone finds a way of using this for porn, its developement will be slow. Star Trek devices may sound cool, but the Internet didn't explode until someone found a way to distribute naughty pictures with it.

Tractor Beam? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 3 years ago | (#33510580)

You mean like this [flickr.com] ?

Re:Tractor Beam? (1)

tenco (773732) | more than 3 years ago | (#33511424)

More like this [projectrho.com] .

theres a more pressing need for research (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33511932)

They should be researching finding a replacement for fossil fuels

AGAIN?!..... (1)

IHC Navistar (967161) | more than 3 years ago | (#33512388)

*ANOTHER* horribly erroneous SlashDot article title.....

Flinging items (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33512502)

The laser cone is used to stabalize the item. Suppose the laser cone is mounted on a turret and shifts angles, effectively moving the item not just toward or away, but from left/right or up/down. If they start accelerating slowly, and then suddenly stop moving the turret, users could 'fling' material with these laser beams. If they stopped suddenly, I'd imagine that the laser cone couldn't contain the velocity of the item, and it would fling in the direction that it was heading.

DIY laser hobbyists already experimenting (1)

0x537461746943 (781157) | more than 3 years ago | (#33512812)

DIY laser enthusiasts are already doing this with very light smoke particles. This is using 100mw home built hobbyist lasers from used CD drives, etc.

http://laserpointerforums.com/f50/optical-trapping-real-laser-tractor-beams-45954.html [laserpointerforums.com]

Doesn't work in space (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33512954)

From the article:
"Because this technique needs heated gas to push the particles around, it can't work in the vacuum of outer space like the tractor beams in Star Trek. "

Holographic uses? (1)

dastardlydavros (1896724) | more than 3 years ago | (#33513172)

I wonder if they could use this to produce mid air holograms? If they can suspend a single particle and have it glowing like that, then on a larger scale with multiple glowing particles you could build a 3D image without the need of a diffraction medium or vapour as with current mid air displays. Depending on the speed the particles can be manipulated, they could maybe even act as scan line dots.

I once... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33513460)

I once had a tractor and on foggy nights I would turn on the lights on the tractor. They would shine through the fog and create a beam of light. Prior Art can't patent!

That would be a PRESSOR beam (1)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 3 years ago | (#33513752)

tractor beams attract things... pressor beams push on things...

Well known in science fiction literature since the early 1930s or so, I think.

I guess if you are a Tom Swift Jr. fan you'd want to call it a repellatron. As featured in "Tom Swift Jr. and his Repellatron Skyway" for example.

Good, how long till it can replace tractors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33513770)

Heh.
"Tiny bacterium" is a long way from the heavy couch that we want to effortlessly put in our moving truck.
How many orders of magnitude in size, volume and weight are we talking about? To be useful, it has to go from pico-grams or whatever bacteria weigh, to actual dozens of pounds.

So, now that the hard part (discovery) is out of the way, this tech better advance at moore's law pace, or it will take hundreds of years to move book-sized things. Worse yet, it may turn into near-vaporware, like our other pet projects: airborne energy harnessing, commercial quantum cryptography and any form of non-microscopic quantum teleportation.

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