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1. any rigid member or structure that is loaded transversely
2. the breadth of a ship or boat taken at its widest part, usually amidships
3. one of the two cylindrical rollers on a loom, one of which holds the warp threads before weaving, the other the finished work
4. the main stem of a deer's antler from which the smaller branches grow
5. a narrow unidirectional flow of electromagnetic radiation or particles
6. the horizontal centrally pivoted bar in a balance
7. off (the) beam not following a radio beam to maintain a course
8. on the beam
a. following a radio beam to maintain a course
b. Nautical opposite the beam of a vessel; abeam
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


1. The region of sky to which a radio telescope is sensitive, equaling the region it would illuminate were its antennas to be used to transmit signals. In aperture synthesis the primary beam is the region to which the individual antennas are sensitive and defines the maximum size of the synthesized map. The synthesized beam is a theoretical beam pattern corresponding to the Fourier transform of the synthesized aperture and defines the resolution of the map. See also antenna.
2. A well-defined elongated region of space down which energy is passing. In the beam model of double radio sources (see radio-source structure), the central galaxy shoots out two beams in opposite directions in which the energy may be transported by relativistic electrons, low-frequency waves, or some other mechanism. Hot spots are formed where the beams impinge on the surrounding intergalactic medium. See also jet.
Collins Dictionary of Astronomy © Market House Books Ltd, 2006


A rigid structural member whose prime function is to carry and transfer transverse loads across a span to the supports; as a joist, girder, rafter, or purlin.

arched beam

A beam whose upper surface is slightly curved, similar to a camber beam.

bolster beam

A timber or steel beam that supports the end of a bridge truss on an abutment or pier; it is set perpendicular to the trusses.

box beam

One or more vertical plywood webs laminated to seasoned wood flanges. Vertical spacers separate the flanges at intervals along the length of the beam to distribute the loads and to provide stiffness.

built-up beam

A beam composed of multiple parts, such as a box beam, compound beam, lattice beam, and angle girder.

camber beam

A beam curved slightly upward toward the center.

channel beam

A channel used as a beam, typically with the web in the vertical position.

collar beam

A horizontal member that ties together two opposite common rafters, usually at a point halfway up the length of the rafters below the ridge.

continuous beam

A beam that is continuous over intermediate supports and thus statically indeterminate; as opposed to a simply supported beam.


A beam that runs transversely through the centerline of a structure; any transverse beam in a structure such as a joist.

edge beam

A beam at the edge of a shell plate structure, providing stiffness that provides an increase in the load-bearing capacity.

encased beam

Iron and steel beams that are encased in a variety of materials for protection against fire.

grade beam

Reinforced concrete beam or slab that is normally placed directly on the ground.

hammer beam

One of a pair of short horizontal members, attached to the foot of a principal rafter, located within a roof structure in place of a tie beam.


An iron or steel beam with a symmetrical I-shaped cross section.

laminated beam

A wood beam composed of a series of overlapping wood members that are glued together.

open web beam

A truss with parallel top and bottom chords formed by a pair of angles, employing a web of diagonal struts and used as a beam; the struts connecting the top and bottom chords are also composed of steel bars.

plate girder

A steel beam built up from vertical web plates and horizontal flange plates.

simple beam

A beam without restraint or continuity at the supports, as opposed to a fixed-end beam.


A large horizontal beam in the ceiling of an American colonial timber-framed house.

tie beam

In roof framing, a horizontal timber connecting two opposite rafters at their lower ends to prevent them from spreading.

trussed beam

A beam or purlin stiffened with a tie rod.

welded beam

A large steel I-section, fabricated by welding from plates instead of hot rolling; same as a plate girder.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



in engineering a structural element, usually in the form of a girder, which is primarily subjected to bending.

Beams are used extensively in construction and in mechanical engineering in the structures of buildings, bridges, trestles, transport means, machinery, machine tools, and so forth. Beams are manufactured basically out of reinforced concrete, metal, and wood. Depending upon the number of supports and the nature of the support constraints, beams may be differentiated as single-span, multi-span, cantilever, with fixed ends, simple, continuous, and others. According to the shape of its cross section, a beam may be classified as rectangular, T-shaped, I-shaped, box-shaped, and so forth. The most efficient beam cross sections (for bearing capacity as well as for material expenditure)— for example, the I-beams and the box beams—are characterized by a concentration of material at the upper and the lower edges of the cross section, where the maximum normal bending stresses are acting. Rectangular sections are expedient in beams of relatively large height and small width.

Beams may have sections that are constant or variable in their dimensions; a beam with variable cross section permits a decrease in its mass. According to their purpose, beams may be classified as primary (longitudinal beams, which cover a span between supports) and auxiliary (transverse beams, which cover distances between other beams). A system of longitudinal and transverse beams is called a grid of beams.

Reinforced concrete beams are manufactured as monolithic or precast. Monolithic beams are designed, in most cases, as multispan continuous beams. They usually have a rectangular or a T-shaped section; the latter are frequently encountered in ribbed construction (where a monolithic beam is rigidly connected with a slab) and more rarely, in the form of independent beams. Precast reinforced concrete is widely used for single-span beams with various sections, such as rectangular, T-shaped, I-shaped, hollow, and II-shaped. Precast multispan continuous beams are composed of several elements, joined together during the installation process. Prestressed reinforced concrete beams have become widespread.

Metallic beams are utilized, for the most part, for heavy loads. The most effective metallic beams are those with I-shaped (rolled or composite) and box-shaped (composite) sections. Composite beams may have a practically limitless height and bearing capacity.

Wooden beams usually serve to cover short spans and occur in the form of single-span and simple structures. They are made of boards, joists, and logs. In order to increase the bearing capacity of these structures, composite sections are employed, using dowels, pegs, or adhesives.

Calculation of the strength, rigidity, and stability of a beam is usually carried out according to the laws of the strength of materials. Beams are calculated according to loads—that is, dead load (from their own masses and the masses of the structures resting upon them) and live or work load. The determination of support reactions, bending moments, lateral forces, and deflections in statically determinate beams is accomplished analytically or graphically on the basis of the equations of equilibrium. Statically nondeterminate continuous beams are usually calculated with the aid of trinomial equations (equations of three moments) when rigid supports are to be used and equations with five terms when there is elastic displacement. In order to calculate beams which are to lie on a yielding foundation (for example, soil), foundation calculation models are utilized. Selection of the beam section is done basically according to the bending moment (normal stresses) that the beam will have to undergo. Besides this, the section is tested for the action of lateral forces (tangential stresses) and principal stresses. In special cases, beams are calculated for stability. The determination of the tangential stresses in beams was first proposed by the Russian engineer D. I. Zhuravskii.




(or ray), a concept in geometric optics (light ray) and geometric acoustics (sound ray) that designates the line of propagation of the energy flux emitted in a certain direction by a point source of light or sound. In a homogeneous medium a ray is a straight line. A ray in a medium with smoothly varying optical or acoustic properties is curved, and its curvature is proportional to the gradient of the index of refraction of the medium. Upon passing through a boundary that separates two mediums having different indexes of refraction, a ray is refracted according to Snell’s law of refraction. The term “beam” (“ray”) is also used to designate a narrow beam of particles, such as an electron beam or cathode ray.



a linear, usually horizontal supporting member in a building or some other structure. The beams connect, sometimes by hinge joint, the vertical members and serve as supports for other horizontal members and slabs in floors, ceilings, and roofs. Beams are made of metal, reinforced concrete, or wood. They may be of lattice or solid construction (with a rectangular, T, double-T, or some other cross section).

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


(civil engineering)
A body, with one dimension large compared with the other dimensions, whose function is to carry lateral loads (perpendicular to the large dimension) and bending movements.
(naval architecture)
The width of a ship at its widest point.
A concentrated, nearly unidirectional flow of particles, or a like propagation of electromagnetic or acoustic waves.
Spool-shaped holder, 8 to 12 feet (2.4 to 3.7 meters) in length, on which is wrapped yarn that is to be transferred to the warp holder of a loom.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


A structural member that is fabricated from metal, reinforced or prestressed concrete, wood, fiber-reinforced plastic, or other construction materials and that resists loads perpendicular to its longitudinal axis. Its length is usually much larger than its depth or width. Usually beams are of symmetric cross section; they are designed to bend in this plane of symmetry, which is also the plane of their greatest strength and stiffness. This plane coincides with the plane of the applied loads. Beams are used as primary load-carrying members in bridges and buildings.

McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Engineering. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. A structural member whose prime function is to carry transverse loads, as a joist, girder, rafter, or purlin. The term beam may be modified by an adjective indicating its location; as, for example, an end beam or side beam. See anchor beam, binding beam, breastsummer beam, camber beam, ceiling beam, collar beam, cross beam, dragon beam, floor beam, ground beam, hammer beam, I-beam, laced beam, perimeter beam, summerbeam, tie beam, top beam, wind beam
2. A group of nearly parallel rays of light.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


beamclick for a larger image
A localizer with both front beam and back beam.
i. A processed and directed pulse of energy.
ii. An invisible path produced by radio signals. An aircraft can follow the beam when approaching or going away from a navigational fix. A radar detects an aircraft when it is illuminated by its beam.
iii. A long, heavy, metallic or wooden member in any structure to withstand any bending and I-beam shearing loads.
iv. The direction extending from the side of an airplane at right angles to the plane of symmetry.
v. The breadth at its maximum width of an airplane fuselage, hull, or vessel.
An Illustrated Dictionary of Aviation Copyright © 2005 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved


[Star Trek Classic's "Beam me up, Scotty!"] To transfer softcopy of a file electronically; most often in combining forms such as "beam me a copy" or "beam that over to his site". Compare blast, snarf, BLT.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (


(1) See Android Beam and beam forming.

(2) (BEAM) A blockchain that uses the Mimblewimble protocol. Launched in 2017, BEAM allows users to control how much of their data they wish to share with the general public. BEAM employs the Equihash proof-of-work (PoW) algorithm that requires a lot of memory to compute but takes much less energy than traditional PoW chains such as Bitcoin. See Mimblewimble and proof-of-work algorithm.
Copyright © 1981-2019 by The Computer Language Company Inc. All Rights reserved. THIS DEFINITION IS FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. All other reproduction is strictly prohibited without permission from the publisher.
References in periodicals archive ?
Washington, Dec 13 (ANI): The crew of the International Space Station (ISS) has beamed down season's greetings to the people of Earth, that is airing on NASA Television.
The premise of the film is that every 100 years young Predator warriors are beamed down to Earth where they undergo a rite of passage, fighting and defeating Aliens.
Did the millions of viewers know that sailors in the 18th century didn't have global positioning systems where location information is beamed down from satellites?
A flock of birds flew over and you could hear them fly, the sun beamed down but people stood still, some with heads bowed, some not, and a real peace descended.
Fans sang Happy Birthday to the singer as she beamed down from a V.I.P.
'Captain Kirk' is thought to have beamed down for a flutter in the casino at least four times.
The latest state-of-the-art device may look as if it's at your fingertips but it's just an image beamed down from a laser projector which then picks up the user's finger movements.
Over 150 of the regions leading property professionals beamed down to the Chamberlain Park Hotel for a spaced out odyssey of deal making, creative accounting, and invigorating drinking.
Loudspeaker broadcasts beamed down from American planes accused one-eyed Taliban cleric Mullah Mohammed Omar of hiding in a well-equipped bunker.
Darren Bicknell put everyone in the shade as the sun beamed down on Surrey at The Oval.
The biggest movie blockbuster of all time beamed down to Britain last night.
But as the sun beamed down on the couple near their rented pounds 10,000-_-a-week villa, few could deny that this is a genuine friendship.