BEHOLD: Scientists Use Sound Waves to Make Things Levitate

Screen Shot 2014-01-03 at 12.57.18 Damn son. This is all sorts of interesting, especially given the theory posited by the likes of ColinWilson that is was such technology that enabled whoever built the pyramids in their seemingly impossible feat (also that the pyramids themselves are said by many to be superconductors, built in such a fashion as to channel both sound and other energies). Museums are stuffed with ancient carvings of giant tuning forks and ram's horns aimed at levitating rocks and temples. Also worth remembering the myriad similar legends, like those about the temple of Uxmal in Mexico that "was built by a race of dwarves, which apparently only had to whistle and 'heavy rocks would move into place'".

Also that time The KLF knocked a cow across a field by blasting it with sub bass. Amen.

From Wired:

With every new year comes change, and change can be scary. Thankfully, we know that there’s at least one way 2014 will be like every year that came before it. Watching scientists make stuff levitate is still cool as hell, same as it ever was.

The latest work comes from a group of researchers at the University of Tokyo. What we see in their latest proof of concept clip is fairly dumbfounding: Arrangements of tiny little beads lift into the air and glide around in perfect formation. An iron screw spins gently in space. Pieces of plastic, broken match heads, and even droplets of water all defy gravity, all thanks to the precise application of ultrasonic sound waves.

The idea itself is not entirely novel. As we’re told in the clip, scientists have been experimenting with acoustic levitation for decades, using sound waves to suspend materials in mid-air. What’s new here, though, is the ability to move those materials in three dimensions.

That’s made possible by the unique arrangement of the speakers themselves. Where former setups bounced sound waves off a solid plate, the Tokyo researchers instead use four panels of speakers, all facing each other. These walls combine to create an “ultrasonic focal point,” which can be moved—along with the object trapped in it—by adjusting the output from each speaker array. The sound waves are out of the range of human hearing, so the setup effectively operates in silence.


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