Tractor beams are the staple of alien movies. You simply cannot have a good alien movie without some sort of gravity-defying nonsense beam sucking up innocents. Well, it just so happens that tractor beams aren’t fantasy anymore, and if you are lucky, you might be able to slap one on your hovercraft in the next couple decades.
NASA is currently experimenting with tractor beams, in the hopes that we can beat aliens to the punch. Not only have they developed a light tractor beam, but they have invented a total of 3 different types of tractor beams. The beams are made out of lasers, and the three different types exploit different aspects of physics. We didn’t even know tractor beams were physically possible, but science is telling us that tractor beams are not only possible, but possible 3 times over.
And according to their calculations, tractors beams contain 500% awesome.
Science has known for some time that light exerts a subtle force, and can push small particles around. Researches have used this to manipulate the movements of microbes, but they got bored doing that. So they invented lasers that pull things toward them.
Of the three beam projects, one consists of what is basically laser tweezers, a spiraling vortex of laser waves, and finally something they call the “Bessel beam”. This is all very cool, but don’t ask us to explain any of these in depth.
We still don’t really know how our T.V remote works.
Right now, however, they are only able to pull in small chunks of stuff. It will take a lot of funding and further research to be able to scale it up so they can begin abducting unwilling test subjects into their floating science vessels.