NYU Professors Invent Real-Life Star Trek Tractor Beam

Anita Li

Tractor beams, devices that use energy to move objects, are no longer the stuff of Trekkie dreams.

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Two New York University professors developed a technique for harnessing "Bessel beams" to attract a particle towards a source, according to science website Phys.org.

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In a paper entitled "Optical Conveyors: A Class of Active Tractor Beams," David Ruffner and David Grier describe how they were able to pull 30 micrometer-sized silica spheres suspended in water, towards a laser source, the site reports. Check out the video above to see how the Bessel beams work.

While it's only on a miniscule scale -- we're talking molecules, here -- the discovery gets us one step closer to moving a chair a la Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

How would you use a tractor beam? Tell us in the comments below.

This story originally published on Mashable here.