Prime Eval, Part 12 – Force Fields

There was an article on, which I can no longer find, that proclaimed that researchers were close to “Star Trek-level” force fields. The article talked about the use of ultrasonic waves to create “force pockets” that allow the operators to move small objects, levitate them, and manipulate them in limited ways. After reading the article, I really wanted to write up a blog entry on how writers don’t understand the concept of a “field” from an electronics, or physics viewpoint. More specifically, I wanted to rant about how the “field” only worked horizontally – you wouldn’t be able to make a vertical field.

Direct youtube link 1

But then, when I went to youtube, I discovered the work of some researchers at the University of Tokyo in 2014, showing some very sophisticated levitating manipulation. This was followed by a second video presented at SIGGRAPH in the same year, proposing ultrasonic projectors for vertical 3D graphics. The process involves matched transducers that create standing acoustic waves that can trap small, light objects. I don’t really consider these to be “fields” in the standard science fiction sense, and they’d fail completely if applied as shown in Star Trek as a protective ship barrier, since there’s no air in deep space. Still, the concept is really cool, and it makes for some fascinating software applications. (They really should have demonstrations of these transducers at SF conventions, if they don’t already.)

Direct youtube link 2

The stupid part is that the youtube commenters keep asking if this is how the Egyptians built the pyramids. (Short answer – “no, it isn’t”.)

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