NASA developing tractor beams, no plans for Death Star... yet (video)

Fully functional LightSabre aside, a tractor beam has to be high on most geek wish-lists; lucky for you NASA has started working on one. Before you drop your sandwich (or whatever that object in your left hand is), this won't be for sucking up star cruisers, but the more modest task of sample and space dust collection. The basic concept has already been proven, but now NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist has given boffins $100,000 to make the dream a reality. Three potential methods are already on the table, which in lay-terms resemble laser tweezers, a light vortex and a conceptual rippling beam. Once developed, it could signal the end of traditional mechanical sample collecting -- and just plain luck -- consigning robotic arms to the history books. Check the video after the break for science-tastic mock up of how it might work.