A real-world tractor beam has been created for pulling-in and pushing-out objects. The catch? It's water only, for now. Next step, air control for gravity guns.
Both Star Wars and Star Trek agree on one thing the future will hold – tractor beams. And now scientists have taken the hint and begun working on real-world examples. The current creation uses waves in water to move objects on its surface.
Water-based tractor beams could be massively helpful at sea for rescuing ships, containing oil spills and more.
The tractor beam was created by scientists at the Australian National University in prototype form. This was able to move a small ball back and forth, as well as holding it in one location, by creating waves on the water's surface.
Dr Horst Punzmann from the Research School of Physics and Engineering said: "We found that above a certain height, these complex three-dimensional waves generate flow patterns on the surface of the water. The tractor beam is just one of the patterns, they can be inward flows, outward flows, or vortices."
While the experiment uses water waves to control movement it could be a step in the direction of sci-fi tractor beams that use in-air waves to control objects. That could lead to technology for hoverboards and gravity guns, we hope.