Sunday, April 22, 2012

Scientists develop real-life Dr. Who-like sonic screwdriver

If you are a fan of the British television series, Dr. Who, then you know what a sonic screwdriver is. If you are not, get ready for the real thing: British scientists have created a real-world working prototype of the futuristic all-in-one tool.
As shown in the Dr. Who TV series, the sonic screwdriver is a multi-function tool used by The Doctor in various ways. It can pick locks, perform medical scans, and much, much more, and is sort of a miniaturized version of a Star Trek tricorder, about the same size as an old-style non-electronic tire gauge.

The device was introduced to the series in 1968, and was used regularly until 1982, when it was written out of the series due to the fact that it tended to make escapes from situations too easy (robotic dog K-9 was also booted from the series for much the same reason).

However, it returned in the 1996 Doctor Who TV Movie, and made a full return in the 2005 reboot of the series.

Of course, the real-world sonic screwdriver isn't anywhere near as versatile as The Doctor's. In the video below, it can be seen using ultrasound to rotate and lift a rubber disc floating in a tube of water.

That's a rather prosaic use for the tool, but what researchers see as an actual use for the sonic screwdriver would be as a tool for non-invasive surgery. Dr Mike MacDonald, of the Institute for Medical Science and Technology (IMSAT) at the University of Dundee said:

"Like Dr Who's own device, our sonic screwdriver is capable of much more than just spinning things around."

You can watch a combined video below. It shows the "real" sonic screwdriver, and the David Tennant (10th Doctor) sonic screwdriver being used in a series episode.

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