Scientists have created a 'tractor beam' that could control ships and help tackle oil spills with a new and radical technique that manipulates floating objects.
Led by Professor Michael Shats, the group have discovered they can control water flow patterns with simple wave generators, enabling them to move floating objects at will.
The technique resembles sci-fi tractor beams that draw in objects and allows scientists to control things in water in a way they have never been able to before.
The group worked out the size and frequency of the waves required to move a ping-pong ball in a wave tank in whichever direction they wanted to.
Using "advanced particle" tracking, the team found that the waves generate currents on the surface of the water.
Dr Punzmann said anyone in a bathtub could reproduce they effect, though as yet as yet no mathematical theory can explain these experiments