Scientists are shouting “wingardium leviosa” and making objects lift up off the ground! Not quite, but researchers have been having luck in causing materials to levitate by simply harnessing the power of sound waves. And while it isn’t *quite* as cool as waving a wand and putting a spell on something, it’s really the next best thing and a huge step forward in the name of scientific discoveries. According to The Byte, this new technology could lead to a bigger push in the way of holographic displays which have been all the rage in recent years.
Along with their report on the new technology, The Byte also shared a video straight from the research lab.
In the clip, viewers can see exactly what the power of sound waves can do as they play the part of lifting up individual polystyrene beads and water particles into the air. Behind what appears to be a glass box made specifically for the testing, you can see the beads take on a three-dimensional form as the scientists manipulate the surrounding sound using a massive amount of tiny speakers. The video even demonstrates their ability to turn a miniscule piece of fabric into a tiny hopping bunny! In the most broken down terms possible – it’s really trippy.
But the studies aren’t all cute bunnies and rainbows. It’s been a lot of trial and error to lock down the specific amount – 256 to be exact – of speakers. Prior to finding this number, too much power from the sound waves would cause a ricochet effect that would result in the tiny test subject crashing to the ground. Now that they’ve discovered the reason behind this small but frustrating interference, the scientists say that they’ve taken a giant step forward in how to use holograms outside a controlled setting with no interference.
From a hologram of Tupac Shakur appearing in 2012 at Coachella to Kanye West presenting Kim Kardashian with a hologram of her late father as a birthday present, the idea of using holograms has been an idea on the rise. In fact, more recently, Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky used the technology to address four different European tech conferences about the country’s war with Russia. Like in the controlled tests that used sound waves to levitate objects, the video of Zelensky shows a clear picture of the Ukrainian leader inside of a box, speaking to the crowd.
If you compare the hologram of Tupac to that of Zelensky, you can really see how far technology has come in the last 10 years. While many attendees of the tech conferences commented on how the Zelensky hologram had a few glitches, it’s amazing to know that scientists are hard at work to make this technology not only clearer but almost limitless. In one of their experiments, they were able to use sound waves to hold a water droplet over a glass of water – something that would’ve previously been impossible to achieve due to the water’s reflective nature. It’s with these musings and experiments that the world of three-dimensional objects and how they are created is just getting fired up.