A beam of energy that can pull an object toward it. It’s used in sci-fi films and books all the way from Buck Rogers first book by Philip Nowlon (1928) to the Star Wars films. But now scientist may have found a way to make this cool sci-fi gadget come alive.
NYU Physicists have created a tractor beam capable of pulling very small objects. "This is science fiction made real," said Professor David Griet. "This tractor beam moves objects back to its source."
The tractor beam has demonstrated moving particles distance of 30 to 40 micrometers.
The work applies Newton’s third law of motion: for every action, there is a reaction. In principle, this is like shooting a watermelon seed using your thumb and forefinger— if you grasp the seed in the right location, you can shoot the seed toward you rather away from you. The beam of light works the same way as fingers.
"The field of tractor beams is really in its infancy," adds co-author, David Ruffner. "There is great potential for advancement." Researches are now working on ways to increase both the weight and distance in the beam.
A more ambitious long term goal would be sending these beams into comets to pull out dust samples in space probe missions.
As Han said, "We’re caught in a tractor beam."
So what do you this of this sci-fi gadget coming to life?
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