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Mr. Worf, engage the tractor beam!

The Enterprise uses its tractor beam to tow another starship.  Image from Star Trek, property of Paramount Pictures

The USS Enterprise uses its tractor beam to tow another starship. Image from Star Trek, property of Paramount Pictures

On January 25th, 2013, Czech scientists announced the creation of a real tractor beam, a ray of light manipulated to pull or attract items towards the source.

Though a beam of light ordinarily “pushes” items away from it, scientists from the University of St. Andrews and the Institute of Scientific Instruments, both in the Czech Republic, have found a way to reverse the repelling radiation of light in order to bring objects closer.

While the objects being moved are, for now, microscopic, and move only at the microscopic level, Dr. Tomas Cizmar, Dr. Oto Brzobohaty, and Dr. Pavel Zemanek, the lead scientists working on the project, have also noted that, under certain conditions, the objects being attracted are also reorganizing themselves due to the effects of the tractor beam in such a way as to strengthen the attractive properties and intend to continue their research as a means of improving blood analysis in the fields of life sciences and photonics (the generation and manipulation of light).

This is but the latest addition to the growing list of imagined devices becoming a reality.

What sorts of inventions do you imagine for the future?

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