Thursday, April 19, 2012

Scientists close to inventing a REAL Sonic Screwdriver

Researchers at Dundee University (Scotland) claim to have invented a real-life Doctor Who-style sonic screwdriver.

The prototype device has successfully used ultrasound waves to lift and rotate a rubber disc floating in a cylinder of water - the first time ultrasound has been made to turn objects rather than simply push them - but physicists performing the research believe it can achieve a lot more.

We’ve witnessed the Doctor use his screwdriver to open locks and doors and control other devices, in the more classic episodes we also saw the Sonic Screwdriver used as a medical device.  The Dundee team of scientists believe that based on their current studies this new device could help make surgery using ultrasound techniques more precise and effective by giving doctors the ability to steer ultrasound waves to the precise spot where they are needed.

 ‘This 'sonic screwdriver' device is also part of the EU-funded Nanoporation project where we are already starting to push the boundaries of what ultrasound can do. Surgeons already use ultrasound to treat patients without the need for surgery, but the ability to steer objects such as drug capsules to precise locations could make the technique even more effective.

Mike MacDonald, of the university's Institute for Medical Science and Technology, said: “This experiment not only confirms a fundamental physics theory but also demonstrates a new level of control over ultrasound beams which can also be applied to non-invasive ultrasound surgery, targeted drug delivery and ultrasonic manipulation of cells.” He went on to say “It is an area that has great potential for developing new surgical techniques, among other applications, something which Dundee is very much at the forefront of.”

Dr MacDonald added: “Like Doctor Who's own device, our sonic screwdriver is capable of much more than just spinning things around.”

The results of the research are published in the American Physical Society's journal Physical Review Letters.

Last year, scientists in Bristol began working on their own ‘sonic screwdriver’ to be used in home improvements. The team experimented with rotating ultrasonic force fields which acted like the head of a screwdriver. 

Just another example of how Sci-Fi is being brought in to real life.  I know that Star Trek and even Star Wars have influenced a lot of things that we see everyday and don;t even realize it.

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