Turning fantasy into reality, British researchers have created a Star Trek-like tractor beam by employing sound waves that have the power to move physical objects.
Fascinated by the idea of creating a workable, invisible beam that had the power to manipulate objects, scientists in Bristol and Sussex in the UK have created the world’s first sonic tractor beam. As reported in Forbes:
“The researchers, whose study was published in Nature Communications, have built a working tractor beam that uses high-amplitude sound waves to generate “an acoustic hologram”, which can grab and move objects.
The days when the International Space Station will be able to tow in asteroids for study are still pretty far off though. This tractor beam takes the holographic shape of fingers or a cage in order to manipulate small objects, rather than huge spacecraft or space rocks.”
And while the objects these ‘acoustic holograms’ will be able to move are not large, the potential in this type of technology is exciting. For instance, it could be used on a production line for handling small, hazardous objects or put to work on the operating table to perform delicate surgical operations inside the human body.