Watch a real-life sonic tractor beam in action

Originally published at: Watch a real-life sonic tractor beam in action | Boing Boing


I’ll see your tractor beam, and raise you with some tractor high beams…


Is it really a tractor beam if it needs emitters on both sides of the object? It doesn’t pull the object the way a tractor beam does (tractor coming from Latin trahere, to pull) but rather suspends it.


More like “Sonic Suspenders”, then; or is that a Hedgehog modelling lingerie?


I’m sure Deviant Art has you covered if you want an illustration


So why isn’t the father called Banhee?

Confused Hanna Barbera GIF by Warner Archive


I mean, just to manage expectations here, it will never be “practical” per se. It’s a neat effect that may someday find a niche application, but this isn’t going to scale up into any generally useful form. The physics only work in very specific narrow circumstances with very light objects, and it’s always going to be that way.


If it can move kidney stones I’d love it. The primitive methods used in the 1970s on up until the 2000’s really weren’t that much fun. Imagine a piece of rusty barbed wire inserted in a certain entrance then jabbed around until they catch the stone and drag it out. They’ve made it more fun now by tossing you in a lithotripsy tank and somehow zapping the stone till its more like dust than gravel. The tank In was in also had rubber duckies floating around. I was so blown away on pain killers I almost cried when they wouldn’t let me keep a ducky for my own. But yeah levitate it and scoot it out…thats great. Wonder if it could be used for blood clots? that could be handy as well I’d think.

edit spelling


i really like how the intro of the video mentions spaceship tractor beams. cause yeah, i totally can see how something based on sound would work well in a vacuum

  1. spray a lot of gas at the target ship to create a medium to propagate sound
  2. oops, we pushed ourselves backwards a a lot and them forwards a bit
  3. Space Force!
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Pop science reporting is the worst. Every single story about metamaterials promises it’ll lead to Harry Potter invisibility cloaks. I mean, okay… in 200 years maybe. But, no, just no. Stop it, pop science reporters.

I honestly think this contributes to the distrust of science that we currently suffer from. People keep getting promised invisibility cloaks, warp drives, and flying cars by stupid magazine articles, but those things are never going to happen in anyone’s current lifetimes. So people think science doesn’t deliver on promises, rather than blaming crappy coverage of science.


Because bean (pronounced and anglified as ban) means woman or wife, sidhe (anglified as shee) means fairy. So farshee would be a male version (fearr, pronounced far, is man).

Sorry, had to be a pedant!


New Scientist’s reporting on the so-called “EmDrive” was so shoddy it got reclusive speculative fiction writer Greg Egan to write an open letter about it.

The “tractor beam” article and another article it links to also carry on the tradition of abusing the word holographic as a synonym for any volumetric display.


They seem to be aiming for an application as a 3D display. If they can get more particles to be trapped in the same field it would make for a pretty cool volumetric display made up of individual styrofoam pixels. No idea whether the interference patterns of the sound emitters allow for that sort of scaling up, though.


at the very least, when we’ve had such huge jumps in our daily technology, i think people don’t know what’s possible and what’s not

nanoparticle tracking chips in vaccines, why not? it’s just as magic as computers without physical buttons that fit in our pockets

definitely helps when science reporters can convey what’s possible and why… new scientist is terrible at that


I agree with that, for sure. The huge leaps in cellphones in just a few short years may well make laypeople assume we can do that in every area of science and technology now. People clearly don’t have a grasp of what the Hard Problems and Easy Problems are in science and technology in general. Like, people keep expecting self-driving cars any minute now, but as someone who has worked in that field, I can assure everyone we’re at least 30 years away from what everyone is picturing (an autonomous rental car that drives to your house, then ferries you anywhere you want to go while you nap in the back). People think that’s an Easy Problem, but it’s a Hard Problem, on the scale of fusion power generation or machine-brain interfaces. Of course, that’s made worse by Google and Uber constantly telling people they’ve almost got it to boost their share price. They don’t almost got it, trust me.

Oh god, the :face_with_symbols_over_mouth: EmDrive. That thing will never die. Every few years it comes up again and internet experts swear it’s real and NASA is studying it so there must be something to it! It’s such goddam nonsense.


There’s a lot about Banshee that’s painfully Stage Oirish but I find it particularly hilarious that no one has addressed his choice to literally name himself “Woman Faery”


Then there’s the sonic distractor beam a.k.a. FM radio broadcast…

That was a far more thorough response than that stupid pun merited. Thanks!

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