Tractor beam

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A tractor beam is a hypothetical device with the ability to attract one object to another from a distance. Since the 1990's technology and research has changed the tractor beam from science fiction to reality. However, there is no mainstream science which is equivalent to the magnitude in which it is used in science fiction but university research has allowed for advancement on the microscopic level (see optical tweezers). Tractor beams are frequently used in science fiction. Less commonly, a similar beam that repels is called a pressor beam or repulsor beam. The exact specifics vary, but there are generalities. Gravity impulse and gravity propulsion beams are areas of research from fringe physics that coincide with the concepts of tractor and repulsor beams.


Usage in fiction

Science fiction movies and telecasts normally depict tractor and repulsor beams as audible, narrow rays of visible light that cover a small area of a target. Tractor beams are most commonly used on spaceships and space stations. They are generally used in two ways:

In the latter case, there are usually countermeasures that can be employed against tractor beams. These may include pressor beams (a stronger pressor beam will counteract a weaker tractor beam) or plane shears aka shearing planes (a device to "cut" the tractor beam and render it ineffective). In some fictional realities shields can block tractor beams, or the generators can be disabled by sending a large amount of energy back up the beam to its source.

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