Laser physicists from Australia have built a reversible tractor beam capable of retrieving tiny particles. It's nowhere near as strong as the beams portrayed in scifi, but it's the first long-distance optical tractor beam capable of moving particles one fifth of a millimeter in diameter a distance of up to 20cm.… » 10/20/14 9:30am 10/20/14 9:30am

Physicists Have Created A Tractor Beam Using Water

In recent years, scientists have used lasers to construct crude tractor beams that, one day, might be used as grappling hooks in space. Now, for the first time, physicists have succeeded in creating the same effect using water. » 7/07/14 4:40pm 7/07/14 4:40pm

Sonic Tractor Beam

Doctor Who visited Star Trek, and the crossover showed up in our reality as a macroscopic acoustic tractor beam. The newly-developed acoustic tractor beam can pull objects six orders of magnitude — that's a million times! — larger than any previous experiments. » 5/06/14 5:00am 5/06/14 5:00am

Star Trek Actually Got Tractor Beams Right

We've made another step forward in building real-life tractor beams. Turns out that the trick is in the angle of the beam, and Star Trek did a pretty good job of representing what a real tractor beam could look like. » 3/18/14 12:00pm 3/18/14 12:00pm

Physicists demonstrate an actual tractor beam in the lab

It seems like we're getting closer to the Star Trek future by leaps and bounds these days. We recently learned that a NASA scientist has set his sights on building a warp drive, and now news has come in that a team of physicists have built their own tractor beam in the lab. Now, it's nothing to get too excited over —… » 10/24/12 2:40pm 10/24/12 2:40pm

Scientists are working on a "tractor beam" that could recover…

It's the interstellar version of a man overboard — an astronaut, thrown from his spacecraft, drifting helplessly into space. Until recently, safety measures to account for such a situation have been somewhat limited. » 10/17/11 8:40am 10/17/11 8:40am

Could we be on the verge of inventing tractor beams?

Ferengi smugglers shake in their boots as the first step towards tractor beams is announced. In the past, lasers have been used only to impart forward momentum to their targets. They hit objects with photons, and those objects move forward with the beam of light (or burst into flame). Now scientists in Hong Kong have… » 3/03/11 4:30pm 3/03/11 4:30pm

Model spacecraft demonstrates the real-world principles behind a…

Joseph Shoer of Cornell University has built a levitating model spacecraft to demonstrate how a tractor beam could potentially work in real life. In the video, Shoer uses a "ludicrous" neodymium magnet to manipulate his non-ferromagnetic model which floats on air. Says Shoer of his experiment: » 2/07/11 5:24pm 2/07/11 5:24pm

Major breakthrough in tractor beam technology

It's now possible to move a tiny bead of glass (pictured) five feet using just laser beams. We may not be tractor-beaming humans into spaceships yet, but this is a huge step forward for a technology once called science fictional. » 9/09/10 5:30pm 9/09/10 5:30pm