Every month, there seems to be news of some fabulous science fiction concept that is ever closer to becoming science fact. In just the past few months, we’ve seen concepts go public for medical tricorders, augmented reality glasses, smart watches (although how much we actually want them is up for debate) and Jurassic Park-style de-extinction. Now, enter levitation, which could very well be the next science fiction concept to hit it big.
If all goes as planned, it may soon be possible for pharmaceutical researchers to levitate molecules in mid-air and for city planners to build super-fast transportation networks filled with levitating vehicles.
The latest development is the ability of Swiss researchers to use sound waves to levitate — and then move — particles and objects in mid-air. Turns out, all acoustic levitation requires is blasting out sound at extremely loud levels (160 decibels – the deafening sound of a rocket launch) at a high enough frequency (24,000 hertz – the frequency of a dog whistle) that the human ear can’t detect. When those two conditions are met, some fascinating things start to happen. If you thought that gravity was the strongest force in the universe, think again – the Swiss researchers were able to defy gravity and move objects around a chess board-like device, mix particles in mid-air without touching them, and even levitate a toothpick…
[continues in the Washington Post]