One of the vaguest, yet most powerful objects in the world of sci-fi, the Time Lord’s utensil can do pretty much anything in the BBC series, from repairing electrical equipment to operating alien computers.
Obviously the lab rats up in Scotland haven’t quite managed to create an implement of such power, but their prototype has successfully used ultrasound waves to lift and rotate a rubber disc floating in a cylinder of water.
That may not sound like a big deal, but up until now, ultrasound has only been able to push objects about and physicists performing the research believe their invention is an important breakthrough for medical science.
“Like Doctor Who’s own device, our sonic screwdriver is capable of much more than just spinning things around,” said Dr Mike MacDonald of the Institute for Medical Science and Technology at Dundee.
Surgeons already use ultrasound to treat patients without the need for surgery, but the ability to manipulate objects with greater precision, could open doors for all sorts of more advanced medical treatment.
“This experiment not only confirms a fundamental physics theory but also demonstrates a new level of control over ultrasound beams which can also be applied to non-invasive ultrasound surgery, targeted drug delivery and ultrasonic manipulation of cells,” said Dr MacDonald.