Straight Out of Star Trek

For the sci-fi series' 50th anniversary, one NYU physicist explains how he made the tractor beam a reality.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek series premiere, NYU physics professor (and sci-fi fan) David Grier leads a tour of his lab—the birthplace of the real-life tractor beam. In this video, Grier explains how the technology works and how it could find practical use in everything from environmental science to—yes—space exploration.

Grier's work is also featured in a Smithsonian documentary premiering September 4 at 7 pm.