They Built Doctor Who’s Sonic Screwdriver


Scientists have successfully managed to make a sonic screwdriver. No, you didn’t read that wrong. They actually did it.

A team from University of Dundee in Scottland have created a device capable of turning objects using nothing more than ultrasonic waves. In the video below, you can see it levitate and spin (albeit quite slowly) a fairly large test apparatus in a chamber of water.

And yes, the researchers weren’t the least bit reluctant to make a Doctor Who reference or two. in fact, one team member, Mike Macdonald, told the BBC:

“Like Doctor Who’s own device, our sonic screwdriver is capable of much more than just spinning things around.”

The main appeal of this device won’t be in fighting off alien invasions, nor even in mending chain link fences. Rather, this device could prove to be revolutionary in ultrasound surgery. We now have tools small enough to fit through tiny slits in the skin, but the problem is manipulating them. If we gain the ability to drive tool around underneath the skin, making them spin and slide with an apparatus like this one, suddenly surgery becomes a far less frightening endeavor.

We might even be able to perform many of them while the patient is awake. Or imagine a capsule containing drugs. This technique could let you drive it to the exact right point in the body before it empties its cargo. It might be quite a while before these hit your local ER, but expect them to come.

Heck, we already have ultrasonic scalpels, so why not a sonic screwdriver, too? Let’s make an entirely sonic surgery procedure.