That’s right, NASA researchers are currently developing a working tractor beam — “a ray of laser light than can trap and pull objects in the opposite direction of the beam.” One of the methods involves “optical tweezers”, or in other words, two counter-propagating rings that “create a kind of ring-like geometry that confines particles inside.” Video after the break.

The second technique uses optical solenoid beams that spiral around the axis of propagation–just picture a spiral laser beam that can pull particles in the opposite direction of propagation. It does this via electromagnetic effects caused by the laser, and thus requires no atmosphere.

[via PopSci]