A real-life sonic screwdriver is almost a reality, thanks to a team of researchers at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom.
“This is truly uber-cool,” said Gerry Marigold, a recording engineer based in Los Angeles. “It has unlimited applications and will revolutionize almost everything we do.”
The screwdriver, which was inspired by the popular British science fiction character Dr. Who, can manipulate, move, and destroy objects via ultrasonic sound waves, according to The Telegraph.
The Dr Who television series was recognized by Guinness World Records as the longest-running science fiction TV show on Earth. In the series, Dr Who uses a similar device in his travels through time.
The device may ultimately be able to turn screws and construct electronic instruments with never-before-possible precision.
"We have developed a device that allows us to use ultrasonic forces to move small objects like biological cells around to sort them or to assemble them," said University of Bristol ultrasonics engineer Bruce Drinkwater. "We are using quite low forces to do this because we don't want to damage the objects we are moving, but the technology is definitely real and there is potential to turn it into something like Dr. Who's sonic screwdriver."
A prototype, called Sonotweezers, uses ultrasound to move subatomic cells. By increasing the strength of the sonic waves it will be possible to remove screws from any surface.
“What they appear to be doing is creating a controlled sonic hurricane,” said Marigold. “With enough energy, this could be used for everything from moving nano objects to very destructive weapons."
The genre of science fiction has a long history of inspiring real-world innovations, from early rockets and to the more recent invisibility cloak.