We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Laser physicists from Australia have built a reversible tractor beam capable of retrieving tiny particles. It's nowhere near as strong as the beams portrayed in scifi, but it's the first long-distance optical tractor beam capable of moving particles one fifth of a millimeter in diameter a distance of up to 20cm. Scaled up, it could eventually be used to control atmospheric pollution.

Image: Australian National University.