Scientists have predicted that carbon’s immediate neighbors on the periodic chart, boron and nitrogen, may also form perfect nanotubes, since the advent of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in 1991. First proposed then synthesized by researchers at UC Berkeley in the mid 1990’s, the boron nitride nanotube (BNNT) has proven very difficult to make until now. Herein we provide an update on a catalyst-free method for synthesizing highly crystalline, small diameter BNNTs with a high aspect ratio using a high power laser under a high pressure and high temperature environment first discovered jointly by NASA/NIA/JSA. Progress in purification methods, dispersion studies, BNNT mat and composite formation, and modeling and diagnostics will also be presented. The white BNNTs offer extraordinary properties including neutron radiation shielding, piezoelectricity, thermal oxidative stability (> 800°C in air), mechanical strength, and toughness. The characteristics of the novel BNNTs and BNNT polymer composites and their potential applications are discussed.