A Star Trek-like tractor beam able to stably push or pull semitransparent gold-coated glass spheres over tens of centimetres has been developed by Vladen Shvedov of the Australian National University in Canberra and colleagues. They use a laser beam with a doughnut-shaped profile (with a hole down the middle) to hold the sphere. Then, by adjusting the polarization of the same beam (azimuthal or radial), they can have energy absorbed mainly on the sphere’s front side, heating it so that it ejects warm air and is pushed along the beam, or at the rear side, so that the warm air pushes back and the tractor beam exerts a pull. This is the first working long-range tractor beam that both pushes and pulls.