The 21st century has borne witness to a number of truly extraordinary scientific and technological advancements. From the breathtaking speed in the evolution of computer, phone and internet technological to genetic engineering, it is plainly evident that the millennial society is in the midst of its own version of the Renaissance or the Enlightenment or maybe just the Industrial Revolution version 2.0. The task of singling out just one technical innovation of the past few years as a particularly beneficial advancement in the forward progression of society may at first seem daunting. The trick is to peer far farther into the future and hypothesize the ways that today’s acquisition of new scientific knowledge will become tomorrow’s most essential tools for enjoying life. Using such a predictive model leads almost inevitably to the choice of recent advancements in the utilization of sound wave technology that spans and unites a broad range of disciplines.
Advancements in sound wave technology made just a few short decades ago were at the time such a miraculous innovation that time traveling fundamentalists from Salem might well have hanged practitioners as witches. The miracle of giving expectant parents the first picture of their baby while still inhabiting its mother’s womb became a commonplace event in a remarkably short period of time. In the meantime, the health care industry has been at the forefront of the sonography revolution. In recent years, the use of non-invasive sound waves have been engineered for medical purposes ranging from eliminating fatty tissue for those looking to lose weight to destroying kidney stones for those looking to avoid excruciating pain. The future benefits of sound wave technology to those facing health care crises is almost impossible to predict. One day sound waves will likely be used to perform brain surgery and already show high promise for removing cancerous cells.
The wildfires in the western states of America have spread virtually free of obstruction at a rate never seen before in recent years. These incendiary attacks on open brush and homes have had the positive effect of stimulating experimental research into the future of fighting fires. One of those techniques still in the early stages of development is based on the scientifically valid premise that directing sound set at a specific low frequency has the capacity to manipulate the oxygen igniting the flame to the point where the flame can be extinguished. The beneficial effects of such a clean method of extinguishing fires has ramifications far beyond the world of firefighting and could spark a revolution in the home security industry.
The single most exciting development in the manipulation of sound waves so far in the 21st century may also be the one with the least immediately practical use. Japanese researchers managed to levitate three very small foam balls through a tiny area of three-dimensional space. The limitations of such sound wave manipulation are currently so restricted that even producing a game for entertainment lies outside its purview. The long-term potential for using sound to move far more enormous and unwieldy objects through a greater area of space has carries with it the air of transformative moment in time not unlike the inventions of the printing press, television and the internet.
Needless to say, sound waves will likely become the weapon of choice in the future. In the summer of 2017, a so-called acoustic attack on US embassy workers in Cuba likely heralded this coming change.
The present utilization of innovations in the manipulation of sound have resulted in 21st century changes in everything from the detection of underground leaks to lightening uneven skin tones. Continued perfecting of these techniques and future innovations may lead one day to a future where water is conserved through the use of sound for cleaning clothes, dishes and even human skin. Beyond such a daily utilitarian exploitation of sound wave technology lies a perhaps limitless future of applications.