After writer Victor Pemberton created the sonic screwdriver in a 1968 serial of Doctor Who, Fury from the Deep, the tool has become an iconic part of the Doctor's arsenal alongside the time-traveling TARDIS. It's something of a wonder tool, able to open locks as well as perform repairs using ultrasonic waves, and now some engineers are saying it could actually be made.
"Doctor Who is renowned for bending the rules of science. But technology has radically moved on since the Doc first stepped out of his TARDIS in the sixties," said Bruce Drinkwater, professor of ultrasonics at Bristol University in the U.K. "Whilst a fully functioning time machine may still be light years away, engineers are already experimenting with ultrasonic waves to move and manipulate small objects."
He and some of the students at Bristol are looking into how ultrasonic waves, operating at well beyond human hearing, could actually do something like twist a screw, and today's medical doctors are already trialing ultrasonic technology to seperate diseased cells from healthy cells.
Could the sonic screwdriver be right around the corner? Drinkwater isn't sure, though he says that "ultrasonic technology is already making its mark in the medical and manufacturing arenas with some exciting results."