How many times in life have you come up against a problem — a locked door, a stuck vending machine, an army of killer robotic Santas — and wished you had the Doctor's sonic screwdriver on hand? A group of researchers has built their own sonic screwdriver, although it remains untested against the Dalek menace.

A team from the University of Dundee has invented the first device capable of turning objects using ultrasound waves. Dr. Mike MacDonald, one of the researchers on the studies was very eager to compare the new invention to the Doctor's trademark tool, telling the BBC:

Like Doctor Who's own device, our sonic screwdriver is capable of much more than just spinning things around.

But this sonic screwdriver should prove more useful to medical doctors than Earth-defending ones. A device that can turn objects using ultrasound offers an additional type of control for ultrasound surgeries, on top of the control offered by ultrasound scalpels. The sonic screwdriver could also help deliver targeted medications; now that physicians will have the ability to twist objects in the human body in addition to pushing and pulling them, they may be able to direct medications directly into, for example, a tumor. And who knows? Maybe someday it will be used to diagnose alien vampirism or unlock time machines.

You can see the sonic screwdriver in action up top. Sadly, it does not make that cool whirring noise.

Next on the agenda: inventing Batman's utility belt.

Dr Who's sonic screwdriver 'invented' at Dundee University [BBC News via The Beat]