Scientists have spun long, rope-like fibres from nanotubes. Their environmentally friendly method could be tweaked to make high-strength threads for use in engineering. The long ropes could even lead to futuristic applications such as a space elevator. Alan Windle and colleagues at the University of Cambridge, UK, made their tiny twisted ropes by winding freshly made nanotubes onto spinning rods as they came out of a furnace. The nanotubes are hollow strands of carbon just 30 millionths of a millimetre or so wide.