Field of Science

Weird Science News - Tractor Beams

In case you’ve never watched a scifi (not scify!) space movie, one of the cool technologies of the future is the “tractor beam”, some sort of energy beam that can pull or attract objects to the source of the beam. Now they exist, on a small scale. And it’s very tricky, which also means the Phactor doesn’t really understand the physics involved, because usually a beam of energy will push on the target like one of those little light engines with the black and white flags that spins inside a glass globe when light strikes the flags. So getting a beam of energy to pull rather than push is quite a trick. Theoretically you could use a tractor beam to pull back your dog or kid running around without a leash, except it’d take a really big powerful beam; one with enough energy would incinerate the dog/kid just about the time it was beginning to tug on them. No one said there weren’t some bugs to be worked out.

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