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Acoustic Magic! Watch Scientists Move Objects, Spell Letters Through Sound

Sep 10, 2016 05:42 AM EDT

It sounds too much like magic to be real, but it's true: scientists recently made a breakthrough moving and controlling objects through the use of a single acoustic source such as the wingardium leviosa spell in "Harry Potter." How controlled? Well, the researchers have actually achieved in writing letters with loose metal pieces just by playing a melody.

According to a report from EurekAlert, father of acoustics Ernst Chladni used a vibrating plate to determine that objects tend to move towards nodal lines specific to each frequency. For the new research by Aalto University, the objects are put on top of a manipulation plate and recorded by a tracking camera. The computer will go through a list of music notes to determine which one will move the object to their intended position.

"We have shown that the motion is also predictable away from the nodal lines," professor Quan Zhou explained. "Now that the object does not have to be at a nodal line, we have much more freedom in controlling its motion and have achieved independent control of up to six objects simultaneously using just one single actuator."

"We are very excited about the results, because this probably is a new world record of how many independent motions can be controlled by a single acoustic actuator," he added. This research was published on Nature Communications.

Just last month, Marco Andrade and Julio Adamowski at the University of São Paulo in Brazil along with Anne Bernassau at Heriot-Watt University in the United Kingdom were able to levitate a polystyrene sphere 3.6 times larger than the 14-millimeter ultrasoic wave that lifted it, according to a report from Discover Magazine.

The study, published in Applied Physics Letters, used three ultrasonic transducers in a tripod position to elevate the object. At the time, this system was only able to lift objects and hold them at a fixed position but the team was already looking forward to levitate objects of various shapes and sizes and move them around.

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