Have you ever thought of finding a way to levitate? It is possible to move objects around with nothing but your IPod Player….ok Not Really! Researches Yoichi Ochiai, Takayuki Hoshi and Jun Rekimoto learned how to suspend an object in air using nothing but sound waves (1). The difference between this study and others is that this is the first time scientists were able to not only suspend the objects but also move them around by manipulating the sound waves.
The concept of levitation sound waves have been around for some time. They moved tiny beads around in different directions versus only straight up and down. By bouncing the waves off a solid plate, they can concentrate and adjust the waves to create the right pressures (2).
The University of Tokyo scientists write in their paper, “Our manipulation system has two original features. One is the direction of the ultrasound beam, which is arbitrary because the force acting toward its [center] is also utilized. The other is the manipulation principle by which a localized standing wave is generated at an arbitrary position and moved three-dimensionally by opposed and ultrasonic phased arrays”(3).
These objects are very light. Something as large as a person or a ball is still out of question. That does not mean the day will not come but at present the uses are limited. It is possible that such findings are used to move small objects such as an atom for research or even to create unique environments. As the sound waves are outside of human hearing, we may someday be able to move cars around with little environmental carbon footprint or noise disturbances.