Scientists have successfully created the world's first laser pacemaker. They are able to control a living creature's heart with a laser beam, making it a leap towards technology that could prevent serious heart defects.

The procedure uses pulses of light to pace the heart of a two day old quail embryo. The research team at Case Western Reserve University, stuck a small laser about a millimeter away from the embryo's heart, and the resulting light pulses created a temperature gradient that spurred muscle contractions.

It shows that lasers can regulate an organism's heartbeat without damaging tissue. Someday, this could lead to scientists creating pacemakers that don't require invasive surgery or heart weakening electrodes. [Nature Photonics via PopSci]