Ad hoc structures in space

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of technology are working on methods for assembing arbitrary structures in space using only debris and electromagnetic waves:

Komerath and his students have calculated that it would be feasible to use waves to move objects with diameters smaller than five per cent of the radiation’s wavelength. Light can move nanoparticles for example, while microwaves – and audible sound waves – can shift objects millimetres or centimetres across.

But the heavy lifting would be left to radio waves. Given a few months to do the job, Komerath says they should be able to assemble rocks, brick-sized or bigger, into any given shape. Later in October he will discuss his idea at a conference in Atlanta for NASA’s Institute of Advanced Concepts – a think tank of the 88-member Universities Space Research Association.

If only my apartment was an airless vacuum, I could program my radio transmitters to pick up my dirty clothes and dishes, shoot the dust off of my furniture, and pull the dirt off of my carpet.

New Scientist: Radio waves could construct buildings in space

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