Scientists create intricate 3D levitating dance with sound waves

Check out this cool new video made by researchers at the University of Tokyo and the Nagoya Institute of Technology, as they levitate particles and other objects using only the pressure exerted by sound waves:

This kind of thing is fascinating to watch, especially how they can control the sound waves to make the formation of particles move about like coordinated dancers. The part I especially like about this is if you look closely, you can actually see the shape of the waves. The video shows a good 2D chalk representation of the waves (starting at 14 seconds in), with the 'particle' trapped inside one of the waves. However, when they're levitating the little white particles (see at around 1:10 and 1:25 in the video), you can see where the point in the standing wave where the lines are farthest apart hold more particles and the points closer to where the 'lines' meet have fewer.

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This kind of thing isn't just for fun, though, or just to show off the physical properties of sound waves for the classroom. This are real, serious practical applications for defying gravity here on Earth. I'm not sure if we'll be seeing hover-cars from this, since I'm not sure having all those high-frequency sound waves bouncing around is a great idea. However, it could have plenty of uses in science and manufacturing, and as the scientists wrote in their research paper, their techniques may be useful for handling objects in microgravity as well.

Seeing astronauts on the International Space Station float objects around them is fun, and they often demonstrate how those objects can go tumbling off at the slightest tap. That kind of thing has to be a problem with some of the experiments they perform up there, so having something like this on the station to keep objects in place would be a great boon to the science they do.

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