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Watch Japanese scientists levitate things using nothing but soundwaves
The technique is called "acoustic levitation"
 
Light as a feather, stiff as a board. 
Light as a feather, stiff as a board.  (Screen shot)

Japanese scientists have configured a way to make small objects levitate in the air using ultrasound. It's pretty neat:

Humans can't hear it; the waves register at a frequency outside of our normal hearing range. But the technology, which is being called "acoustic levitation," allows its creators to manipulate and move objects around in a 3D space.

It works using an array of four ultrasonic speakers that create a tiny focal point. Objects get housed in the soundwaves' crests and valleys and can be moved around freely.

The hope, says the team, is to soon use acoustic levitation to create "extremely high-purity materials," like perfectly symmetrical crystals grown in midair.

It isn't the first time scientists have used soundwaves to seemingly defy gravity, either. In 2006, a team of Chinese scientists used ultrasound to suspend ants and other small creatures in midair, apparently without doing them any harm.

The downside, though, is that the technology only works for objects small enough to fit within the wavelength, which means little brothers, pets, cars, and TV remotes are all unlikely candidates for spatial soundwave manipulation.

 
Chris Gayomali is the science and technology editor for TheWeek.com. Sometimes he writes about other stuff. His work has also appeared in TIME, Men's JournalEsquire, and The Atlantic.

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