tractor beam

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tractor beam

Postby idobox » Tue Apr 12, 2011 10:36 am UTC

Anyone has an idea how a tractor beam could work?
And no, photonic pinches do not qualify. I want a tractor beam actually able to attract a macroscopic object from a distance.
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Re: tractor beam

Postby AvatarIII » Tue Apr 12, 2011 10:41 am UTC

besides simple magnets or some sort of gravity manipulation, if it were possible, i haven't a clue.
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Re: tractor beam

Postby SmoothBlade » Tue Apr 12, 2011 2:16 pm UTC

I've always considered it to be charging the object and the space around it (negatively i suppose) so that the electric field pulls in the object. At least thats kinda what it looks the most like in movies.
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Re: tractor beam

Postby Technical Ben » Tue Apr 12, 2011 4:23 pm UTC

I would guess the Star Trek version uses the same space warping as the FTL drive uses.
You can move things backwards and forwards with lasers. However, it still never gets past the strength of a solar sail or that you would expect normally from light. (Oh, you mentioned photonic pinches already. :P )
Can you hit the rear of the object? Or even two angled beams? You can then burn off reaction mass. It would be slow, but works for the purposes intended. You would have to disable the ship some other way first. But once it's power, engines and shields are down, you burn off it's armour to push it about. :)
Perhaps vary the size of the wavelengths, and you might be able to pass through some of the hull, to hit a denser part on the far side. Then it would act more like a real Star Trek Tractor beam, and not need to be fired from behind the target.
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Re: tractor beam

Postby idobox » Tue Apr 12, 2011 4:48 pm UTC

Enhanced Casimir effect :p

Seriously, if you have two plates facing each other, and you excite it with a wave with lambda just below resonnance, could the plates actually move closer?
In classical physics, EM waves will push the plates away. But is there some mechanism to do something like that, not totally proved wrong ?
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Re: tractor beam

Postby AvatarIII » Fri Apr 15, 2011 10:52 am UTC

Technical Ben wrote:I would guess the Star Trek version uses the same space warping as the FTL drive uses.


i actually always thought ST tractor beams were more like their deflectors, but you make an interesting point, if space could be warped at will, a "ripple" in space could be created behind an object, to push it along, and bring it closer.
this is also how "voidhawks" fly in the Nights Dawn Trilogy
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Re: tractor beam

Postby idobox » Fri Apr 15, 2011 11:34 am UTC

What about a tractor beam that would work in an atmosphere?
If you can remove air in front of your target, it will effectively attract it. It might be possible using a laser to ionize the air, and magnetic/electric fields to move the ions out of the way.
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Re: tractor beam

Postby Steax » Fri Apr 15, 2011 2:08 pm UTC

idobox wrote:What about a tractor beam that would work in an atmosphere?
If you can remove air in front of your target, it will effectively attract it. It might be possible using a laser to ionize the air, and magnetic/electric fields to move the ions out of the way.


Or use a giant vacuum cleaner.

The propulsion method of the vehicle is important if it's an atmospheric one. If it's just magically hovering in the middle of the sky, then even a gentle pull will drag it closer (only hampered by air resistance). If it's using thrusters to maintain altitude and position, it'll be a lot harder. In which case I simply suggest disabling the nearest thrusters (idk, EMP?) to make it move towards you naturally.

In space, you open a wormhole to some hyperspace superdense object storage warehouse, take a really dense object, and use it to attract said ship. Then when it's close enough you toss it back in the wormhole.

Other than that I haven't a clue. (Oh and I was just rambling there.)
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Re: tractor beam

Postby zmatt » Fri Apr 15, 2011 2:48 pm UTC

of course if we crack gravity modification a real tractor beam would be trivial.
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Re: tractor beam

Postby Soralin » Sat Apr 16, 2011 2:51 am UTC

You can make it without gravity modification too.. It just ends up being really heavy, you can't turn it off, and it's more of a sphere than a 'beam'. :)
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Re: tractor beam

Postby bigglesworth » Sun Apr 17, 2011 2:53 pm UTC

Well, you could generate a black hole, then let it evaporate away when you were done with it.
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Re: tractor beam

Postby zmatt » Mon Apr 18, 2011 1:40 pm UTC

bigglesworth wrote:Well, you could generate a black hole, then let it evaporate away when you were done with it.


great, a tractor bomb!


Another way is warping the spacetime in between you and the object to bring it "closer" to you and then grabbing it with a mechanical device. That would be a clever hack of a "conventional" warp drive. Of course I'm using conventional here very very loosely.
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Re: tractor beam

Postby Technical Ben » Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:34 pm UTC

Fire a beam of light that travels faster than the speed of light. So anything it touches, has to move closer to you, to compensate for the correction in relativity.
So your ship is 1 light second away from the target. But your super fast light gets there in half a light second. To correct for this, the universe shrinks the space between you and the target, so it is now half a light second away.
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Re: tractor beam

Postby zmatt » Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:42 pm UTC

lol, assuming you can do that. (putting nitrous on a photon?) would the universe try to correct for breaking causality?
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Re: tractor beam

Postby SlyReaper » Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:44 pm UTC

The steampunk solution: mechanical grapple.

Sci-fi solution: A beam of exotic particles with negative mass. When they impact the target, they impart some of their momentum on to the target, but of course that momentum is in the opposite direction to the direction the particles are moving. Thus, the target moves towards the tractor beam source.

Fantasy solution: Accio McGuffin!
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Re: tractor beam

Postby zmatt » Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:51 pm UTC

SlyReaper wrote:The steampunk solution: mechanical grapple.

Sci-fi solution: A beam of exotic particles with negative mass. When they impact the target, they impart some of their momentum on to the target, but of course that momentum is in the opposite direction to the direction the particles are moving. Thus, the target moves towards the tractor beam source.

Fantasy solution: Accio McGuffin!


real world solution: magnet on a stick. comes in handy getting screws from pc cases and tools dropped in the engine bay.
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Re: tractor beam

Postby idobox » Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:35 pm UTC

What about a system that works like a photon pinch, but instead of throwing light (as in not heavy) photons, it would send heavy stuff, like ions. You would need some kind of magnetic lens on the target, and I suspect a part of the momentum will be lost to brehmstrahlung/synchroton radiation.
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Re: tractor beam

Postby SmoothBlade » Tue Apr 19, 2011 2:37 am UTC

provided your target ship is make from magnetic materials, an electromagnet would be best
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Re: tractor beam

Postby idobox » Tue Apr 19, 2011 7:58 am UTC

That's used for car wrecks.
The issue with magnetic field is that it decreases in r^3, so an object far away will first feel a very light pull, and accelerate more and more until collision. Reducing the field intensity is possible, but it still won't work at great distances.
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Re: tractor beam

Postby Aelfyre » Tue Apr 19, 2011 6:40 pm UTC

idobox wrote:What about a system that works like a photon pinch, but instead of throwing light (as in not heavy) photons, it would send heavy stuff, like lions.


How I first read this... a whole different kinda grapple :)
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Re: tractor beam

Postby zmatt » Wed Apr 20, 2011 1:25 pm UTC

idobox wrote:That's used for car wrecks.
The issue with magnetic field is that it decreases in r^3, so an object far away will first feel a very light pull, and accelerate more and more until collision. Reducing the field intensity is possible, but it still won't work at great distances.


Well I'm going to assume that it is computer controlled. In that case you could increase the intensity to get objects that are far away and then turn it down as it gets closer to maintain a velocity. It would also make a nifty weapon. A powerful enough magnet could pull in other ships or craft at short range and collide.
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Re: tractor beam

Postby Aelfyre » Wed Apr 20, 2011 4:06 pm UTC

idobox wrote:Anyone has an idea how a tractor beam could work?
And no, photonic pinches do not qualify. I want a tractor beam actually able to attract a macroscopic object from a distance.


the answer btw is obviously a weapon capable of annihilating all the spacetime between you and the object so that it collapses toward you :)
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Re: tractor beam

Postby idobox » Wed Apr 20, 2011 10:37 pm UTC

Aelfyre wrote:a weapon capable of annihilating all the spacetime between you and the object

That would be nice. Any idea what kind of science, possibly fictionnal, would allow that?
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Re: tractor beam

Postby zmatt » Thu Apr 21, 2011 6:20 pm UTC

A spacetime fabric sewing machine. You just hem the excess!
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Re: tractor beam

Postby Aelfyre » Thu Apr 21, 2011 8:28 pm UTC

idobox wrote:
Aelfyre wrote:a weapon capable of annihilating all the spacetime between you and the object

That would be nice. Any idea what kind of science, possibly fictionnal, would allow that?


In my home galaxy it is known as the FADE². A Focused Anti-Dark Energy Field Array Distribution Emitter, it basically reverses the force that expands space-time on a small localized scale forcing some space-time back off of the brane and into the bulk which on your end creates the effect of the object on the other side of the field drawing close to you.

The brane your species inhabits is for somewhat complicated reasons being dragged thru the bulk like a net and is scooping up space time as it goes which is causing your universe to expand, you might have noticed some of the side effects with recent measurements.
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Re: tractor beam

Postby zmatt » Fri Apr 22, 2011 12:24 pm UTC

Aelfyre wrote:
idobox wrote:
Aelfyre wrote:a weapon capable of annihilating all the spacetime between you and the object

That would be nice. Any idea what kind of science, possibly fictionnal, would allow that?


In my home galaxy it is known as the FADE². A Focused Anti-Dark Energy Field Array Distribution Emitter, it basically reverses the force that expands space-time on a small localized scale forcing some space-time back off of the brane and into the bulk which on your end creates the effect of the object on the other side of the field drawing close to you.

The brane your species inhabits is for somewhat complicated reasons being dragged thru the bulk like a net and is scooping up space time as it goes which is causing your universe to expand, you might have noticed some of the side effects with recent measurements.


Well, there we go.
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Re: tractor beam

Postby Giallo » Sat Jul 23, 2011 3:41 pm UTC

Some kind of focused gravitational waves?
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Re: tractor beam

Postby Technical Ben » Sun Jul 31, 2011 6:52 pm UTC

So two spinning micro black holes ought to do it? Do black hole mergers cause more gravitational waves? Maybe just combine lots of micro black holes then.
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