Building a mirror with light

A laser pushed floating plastic beads together, creating a reflective surface

By Stephen Ornes, 14:32 PM February 7, 2014

Laser light can’t shove someone around. But a laser’s beam can push plastic beads around a tank full of water. Physicists used a green laser to shove dozens of tiny plastic beads together so that they formed a mini mirror. It wasn’t a great one — its reflection was fuzzy. Still, the experiment proved for the first time that such a feat was possible.

“It’s really cool,” Michael Burns told Science News. A physicist who works with lasers at Harvard’s Rowland Institute in Boston, he didn’t work on...

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