Watch a real-life sonic tractor beam in action

I don't know which cluster of words sounds more awesomely on its own — "sonic tractor beam" or "acoustic levitation." Either way, as you can see in the video above, engineers have made some pretty impressive advances in the manipulation of sound waves in order to manipulate other objects in space! There's still ways to go to make it practical, but it's nice to see people start to realize that potential.

Related, I recently read every single comic book appearance of Sean Cassidy aka Banshee, the infamously Stage Oirish X-Man with super-powered vocal cords (I swear, there's a reason TBA). In his early appearances, he uses his "sonic scream" to help himself fly, and to occasional blast villains like a sonar gun. But … that's about all he ever does with his ability for about three decades. In X-Men #119 (March 1979), he does use his powers to make a sonic wall that stops a giant manmade wave from destroying Japan. That was kinda cool. But it also injures his vocal cords, destroying any possibility of seeing any cool soundwave-based power manipulations in action in the near future. He does start to expand the use of his powers a bit in the 90s, including using them (with the help of Emma Frost) to manipulate people mentally and emotionally. But I was constantly disappointed by the fact that no one ever thought to have him use his powers for things like telekinesis — which, as we can see above, is totally possible (though he might need some help from his daughter, who is also called Banshee).

We've mastered acoustic levitation – and it is surprisingly useful [Michael Allen / NewScientist]