Sound cancels gravity

A team of European scientists has used sound to move and position small objects without touching them.

Sound waves exert a slight physical force. By generating the waves at frequencies above the range of human hearing, the researchers were able to create enough “sound force” to move tiny objects.

The team then created a computer program that managed the distribution of the sound waves among 256 tiny speakers. By adjusting the volume of sound precisely, speaker by speaker, the scientists were able to move, steer, turn, and position the objects.

To demonstrate, the researchers used “acoustic tweezers” to sew a length of thread into a scrap of fabric. They say that their orchestration of sound also can simultaneously control as many as two dozen tiny plastic balls in mid-air.

Within two years, these acoustic tweezers could be tested inside biological tissue. The research team ultimately wants to see the technique used in surgery to work inside the body without make the huge incisions needed today to let surgeons put their hands through the abdominal wall.


Although the developers prioritize medical applications, industrial and military researchers also are paying attention.

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