More and more each day, things relegated to the realm of science fiction in many of our 20th century childhoods are now becoming science fact.
Researchers have announced that they have created a tractor beam like the kind you’d expect to find in Star Wars or Star Trek.
The beam uses high-amplitude sound waves to move small objects without touching them.
“As a mechanical wave, sound can exert significant forces on objects. Just remember the last time you were in a concert and your chest was vibrating with the music,” said study lead author Asier Marzo of Britain’s University of Bristol and Spain’s Public University of Navarre.
Marzo said this sonic tractor beam has manipulated objects up to about one-seventh of an inch (4 mm) in diameter and can control the position and orientation of the levitated objects.
The tractor beam uses ultrasound at a frequency of 40 kilohertz. People can hear only below 20 kilohertz.
The researchers used sound waves from 64 miniature loudspeakers called transducers to create what they called “acoustic holograms” to control an object without touching it. These waves took the form of tweezers to lift an object, a vortex to hold a levitating object in place and a cage to surrounds an object and hold it in place.
Marzo said eventually they could move steel balls with this technology. Then he went on to discuss its “medical applications”:
“Sound cannot travel through the void of space but it can do it through water or human tissue. This potentially enables the manipulation of clots, kidney stones, drug capsules, microsurgical instruments or cells inside our body without any incision,” Marzo said.
Gee, can you imagine what will happen if the military-industrial complex weaponizes this like they do every new technology since World War II?
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