The BBC might have been blowing smoke when it first came up with the idea behind Dr. Who’s marvellous sonic screwdriver, but science has mimicked science fiction once again – the sonic screwdriver is real, and we the have boffins from the University of Dundee to thank for it.
You’re not going to be approaching any killer DIY tasks or be breaking into places with this thing any time soon I’m afraid, but it really does use ultrasound to turn things. The machine is currently capable of rotating a 10cm rubber disc floating in a cylinder of water using just ultrasound – the first time ultrasound has been used to do anything other than simply push stuff around when manipulating objects.
Researchers are touting the extraordinary level of control required to do this and hope that it’ll aid more precise MRI-guided surgery as well as super targeted drug delivery. In theory, ultrasound could be used to manually maneuverer a drug capsule around inside the body like a smart bomb into that bastard-of-a-tumour that’s attempting to kill you. Sounds very sci-fi, but it’s not too far from a reality with Dundee’s new plaything.
So while you may not be able to tighten up that lose screw that’s been rattling around in your car for the last year, or magically open up any locks or doors, medics will be able use the sonic screwdriver to give your body a tune-up instead. [The Independent]