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Feature
We're All Living In A Sci-Fi Movie
Current scientific research shows that the present is the future…

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We're All Living In A Sci-Fi Movie | Tractor Beams
Tractor Beams

As seen in: Star Wars; Star Trek; most space movies

What’s The Science? NASA has started work on a way of using lasers to move things around in a vacuum, which might one day be used to clear debris from orbit (there’s a lot of it up there) and in the meantime is pretty darn cool. A team at NASA has just landed $100,000 funding (which should just about pay for pencils and lab coats) to investigate three types of laser beams that might work. The most exciting is, at present, only on the theoretical drawing board, but this “Bessel beam” would indeed draw objects towards the source of the beam. OMG like the Death Star pulling in the Millennium Falcon! Read more here

So how long until we see practical results? Well, it’ll be a while before we’re using these to move spaceships, but NASA does have a storied history of actually accomplishing amazing things, and tests on the first two types of lasers have already had some success on a very small scale: the team can already use “optical tweezers” and the optical solenoid beam to move particles around.

Which films might this change? While Star Wars and Star Trek can consider their science vindicated by this, Armageddon and other space movies set closer to home would see their plots changed dramatically were tractor beams available.

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Have Your Say
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Your Comments

1 nah!!!
If that's true, where's my Milenium Falcon? More

Posted by danielthompson99 on Sunday November 13, 2011, 00:22

2 Exoskeleton suit!
How about an Ironman or Aliens-loader-esque exoskeleton suit? Yo Ripley, check it out. We've got knives, sharp sticks, exoskeleton suits: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hkCcoenLW4 and http://exoskeletonsuit.net/ More

Posted by Mezla on Friday November 11, 2011, 13:13

3 Great article...
"The potential for scaring away all your friends and romantic interests is HUGE." That made me laugh hugely. Which, now I think about it, makes me a little sad... The Michel Gondry comment was also very amusing. As I said, great article, it's stuff like this that makes me a regular visitor here. Hey, it beats working...! More

Posted by drawmyfoot on Thursday November 10, 2011, 15:57

4 I'm gonna sound like such a geek but...
I'm suprised the ipad hasn't had a mention, we see sci-fi films with these funny plastic boards with the cast pretending it has information on it, now look it's actually real. ...Maybe Rodenberry was onto something after all! More

Posted by Sphinx on Wednesday November 9, 2011, 20:00

5 RE: Star Wars Tractor Beam
Helen, how could I have forgotten that scene, I stand corrected. More

Posted by dholleyuk on Wednesday November 9, 2011, 16:17

6 RE: Star Wars Tractor Beam
L: dholleyuk Apart from the following little issue, great artical, interesting to see where we are now and the next steps we may take! You guys at Empire really do love Star Wars a little too much. The "tractor beam" term was used in Star Trek between 1966 - 1969 TV show. Mr "need to make more money" Lucas coined the phrase 15 years late, but Empire, we never got to see it, just hear the words "prepare the tractor beam" hank you! But we do see a tractor beam used: that's what pulls the Millenium Falcon into the Death Star in Star Wars. Obi-Wan has to go disable it. I did mention Star Trek, and the only reason we got a pic of Star Wars is that Amar found better ones floating about. I think we can all agree that Trek did most sci-fi things first, or at least popularised most sci-fi things first, but it's harder to get pics from TV. More

Posted by Helen OHara on Wednesday November 9, 2011, 15:36

7 Hover Travel
" it’s still three years until 2115" Wow, that was some long Hypersleep I must have been in for the last 100 years. More

Posted by pollytechnic on Wednesday November 9, 2011, 13:56

8 Star Wars Tractor Beam
Apart from the following little issue, great artical, interesting to see where we are now and the next steps we may take! You guys at Empire really do love Star Wars a little too much. The "tractor beam" term was used in Star Trek between 1966 - 1969 TV show. Mr "need to make more money" Lucas coined the phrase 15 years late, but Empire, we never got to see it, just hear the words "prepare the tractor beam" More

Posted by dholleyuk on Wednesday November 9, 2011, 13:15


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