Sound waves can be used to levitate and manipulate objects.
A team of researchers has invented a device that can levitate objects in the air using sound waves.
It might not be quite as sophisticated as the tractor beams seen in Star Trek and Star Wars, but this one at least actually exists and could provide significant advantages in a wide range of industries.
Previous attempts to levitate objects in the air have typically been done using magnetic fields, but now scientists have come up with a new way to accomplish the same thing using sound waves.
“We’ve all experienced the force of sound – if you go to a rock concert, not only do you hear it, but you can sometimes feel your innards being moved,” said study co-author Bruce Drinkwater.
The actual sound waves used in the tractor beam, which operate at between 140 and 150 decibels, would be deafening if it weren’t for the fact that they are only operating at 40 kilohertz – far above the hearing range of humans but audible to some animals such as dogs and dolphins.
So far the technology is only able to levitate lightweight polystyrene balls but in the future it may be possible to use the same method to move larger objects or even to perform medical operations – that is if the team can figure out how to miniaturize the system to work on the micron scale.
It’s rather unlikely however that the tractor beam will be moving spaceships around anytime soon
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