Sonic Screwdrivers Using Ultrasonic Force Fields
The notion of tiny manipulators is a very handy idea. Science fiction writers have been busily imagining them for decades. More recently, fans may recall the sonic screwdriver from the Dr. Who series.
(Dr. Who's sonic screwdriver)
Professor Bruce Drinkwater of the University of Bristol notes that ultrasonic sound waves can actually apply forces to objects.
He says: "Doctor Who is renowned for bending the rules of science. But technology has radically moved on since the Doc first stepped out of his Tardis in the sixties. Whilst a fully functioning time machine may still be light years away, engineers are already experimenting with ultrasonic waves to move and manipulate small objects."
Engineers are looking into how ultrasonic waves can be spun at high speed to create a twisting force similar to that of a miniature tornado, which could undo screws remotely. They have also experimented with rotating ultrasonic force fields which would act like the head of a real screwdriver.
"Doctor Who's adventures have captured the imaginations of millions, young and old. And, however far fetched the Time Lord's encounters may seem, there are engineers and scientists out there who are using their skills to bring the magic to life.
"The sonic screwdriver may still be sometime in the making but ultrasonic technology is already making its mark in the medical and manufacturing arenas with some exciting results."
Via Doctor Who's trusty invention is anything but sci-fi; thanks to Winchell Chung for submitting the tip on this story.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/8/2010)
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