First off I just need to say that I’m so happy the animation further down the post worked! I spent 2 days making that (lots of relearning to do!). Other than that I have to apologise for the use of childish drawings.
Anyway, onto the main topic of this post. The other day I saw an advert for a food programme which I am almost certainly going to watch (If it’s any good I might mention something here!). Within the advert there was a clip of a woman exclaiming something like: “You cut your sandwiches with sound?!?!”. Whilst I’m not surprised that this is possible, I was surprised that the sandwich industry bothered with something so high-tech (Guillotine not good enough?). I also thought this would be a good opportunity to put my animation skills to the test.
So being me I naturally sped to Google to find out more about this oddity. Quickly it turned out that the device was called a “sonic laser” or “Saser“. Apparently it was developed without any direct thought to what it would be used for. But speculation has been that it could be used for ultrafast computers, ultradetailed imaging and medical devices. The oddest thing I found was that the technology sounds very similar to a piece of military hardware that could be used in crowd-control situations, the ‘non-lethal acoustic device‘.
The essential theory is identical to that of lasers. What the scientists do is generate a string of sound waves (phonons). These are then synchronised and moved to an ultra-high frequency to create a continuous beam of phonons. Lasers are basically the same but replace phonons with photons. Despite sounding fairly simple, it is an incredibly painstaking process that requires a lot of work, and as a result has been difficult to do.
It’s because of this that I simply don’t understand how the sandwich industry are cutting their sandwiches with such technology, and not the medical/computing industry who I know for sure have sandwiches to cut as well.
If you want to learn a bit more about Saser’s, here’s a decent, if not a bit complex, article on them from Nature.