In the BBC-produced television series -- recognized by Guinness World Records as the longest-running science fiction TV show on Earth -- the eccentric Dr. Who uses a multi-tasking sonic screwdriver to help him in his many time-traveling adventures.
The fictional device is so popular that the BBC even offers a facsimile of it as a gift item.
Dr. Who Sonic Screwdriver Almost a Reality
Mary Evans / Ronald Grant / Everett Collection
Doctor Who, as played by David Tennant in 2008, with his sonic screwdriver.
It may not be here in time to stuff your holiday stockings with, but a team of British engineers has created a gadget that can manipulate objects via ultrasonic sound waves, reports The Telegraph.
University of Bristol ultrasonics engineer Bruce Drinkwater says the new technology may ultimately lead to tools that can easily turn screws and construct precise components.
"We have developed a device that allows us to use ultrasonic forces to move small objects like biological cells around to sort them or to assemble them," Drinkwater said.
"We are using quite low forces to do this because we don't want to damage the objects we are moving, but the technology is definitely real and there is potential to turn it into something like Dr. Who's sonic screwdriver."
Drinkwater and his colleagues have already made their prototype -- called sonotweezers -- utilizing ultrasound shock waves to move tiny cells around. He says that, by creating a rotation movement, a force field can be created that would be powerful enough to undo screws.
"Essentially what you are doing," he said, "is using the ultrasonic sound wave to twirl the air around to create a miniature tornado."
With a hopeful eye to the future, Drinkwater works with the U.K. Big Bang Fair that inspires youngsters to seek science and engineering careers.
This is not the first time that an object of science fiction has taken steps to enter the real world.
It was recently reported that scientists are inching their way closer to developing a material that would essentially become an invisibility cloak like the one featured in the Harry Potter books and movies.
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