Scientists have always been notorious for stealing away ideas for new technologies from writers and bringing them into the real world. Today’s invention is no exception, as scientists at the University of Dundee in the UK announced the progress on their sonic screwdriver project.
Yup, just like Doctor Who, though perhaps not just like Doctor Who. It is sonic, yes. And it is a screwdriver. Therefore, it is a sonic screwdriver. The amount of really cool technological stuff that it can do, however, is quite limited at this point.
So far, those working on the project have managed to use an MRI-guided ultrasonic beam to rotate and pull a 10cm rubber disk weighing in at 90 grams while it was submerged in water. Not quite what the Doctor can do, but certainly a promising beginning for such a high-tech vision.
The U of Dundee has been working on this project in conjunction with other researchers at Bristol, Glasgow and Southampton. It is familiarly known as ‘Sonotweezers’ (I guess they couldn’t get the rights to sonic screwdriver) and is just a small part of a much larger project devoted to figuring out all the cool things that can be done with ultrasonic manipulation.
The official press release mentions using these new technologies for medical applications, of which there are a great many. Personally, I see this going the military route once they get it perfected – lifting tanks off the ground the hurling them ala Magneto style.
Here’s a little video that show the ‘Sonotweezers’ in action:
Leave it to the Brits to turn one of their favorite television shows into new technology. I suspect the T.A.R.D.I.S. project is next on the list.
For the full press release (and a whole mess of techno-speak), check out the university website.
Thanks to The Mary Sue for enlightening us to this subject.