Tractor Beam: Star Trek

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Tractor Beam I remember watching old episodes of Star Trek (The Original Series), well who am I kidding, I still do watch them on Netflix, and being in awe of the power of the Starship Enterprise. The ship could shoot out a beam and the beam would seem to “grip” another object, such as a broken down starship and tow the other craft along with it or pull the object in towards the ship. What kind of magic is this? Well it’s called the tractor beam. A tractor beam (short for attractor) is “an attenuated linear graviton beam used by starships and space stations to control the movement of external objects”. The tractor beam placed stress on the object in specific areas, allowing it to hold the "tractored" item in its tracks, or alter its position…show more content…
To safely tow a vessel at warp speed, the target vessel 's engines had to be deactivated to avoid shearing forces against the towing vessel. A tractor beam could then be used at warp speed only if both vessels ' speeds were matched exactly. Physicists at New York University, David Grier and David Ruffner, have created a tractor beam capable of pulling particles, although they are but micrometers in size. They refer to it as an optical conveyor tractor beam, and it has so many other potential applications, from microfluidics (in the near term to far-out applications like collecting dust samples from comet tails. “This is science fiction made real,” said NYU Physics Professor David Grier, one of the paper’s co-authors. “This tractor beam moves objects back to its source, just like those in so many sci-fi movies, but with very small pieces.” The creation builds upon an earlier Grier creation of spiraled beams, which can be used to confine and pull small objects—a couple micrometers in size—over a range of eight micrometers. Contrastingly, the conveyor tractor beam has shown moving particles distances of 30 to 40 micrometers. How exciting is this, to think that the far-out concept of a tractor beam, once a thought dreamed up in science fiction, is something that really exists today. “The field of tractor beams is really in its infancy, there is great potential for advances.” (David Ruffner, an NYU doctoral student and the paper’s other
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