Aside from the lightsaber and phaser, few sci-fi implements are as iconic as the sonic screwdriver from Doctor Who. Now, engineers have taken the first step toward making the trusty plot device an actual working tool.
Researchers at the University of Bristol in England have built a tool that uses ultrasonic sound waves to move and manipulate objects. Right now, the scope is limited to small things like biological cells — but bigger things are on the way.
“If we can increase the ultrasonic force and create a rotational force, then we could potentially undo screws,” Prof. Bruce Drinkwater told the Telegraph. “Essentially what you are doing is using the ultrasonic sound wave to twirl the air around to create an miniature tornado.”
Drinkwater is involved in The Big Bang Fair, a UK organization aimed at encouraging young people to follow careers in science and engineering. What better way to capture their imagination than by re-creating one of British pop culture’s most recognizable icons?