Ultrasonic Levitation

28 Aug

The director of the levitation program at the New York Institute of Technology was a scientist who had reached the limit of frustration with how his efforts were being treated by colleagues, the media, and the general public.

Early sensationalism at the inauguration of the research in 2020 had crumbled into fatigue and ridicule. Many jokes now surrounded any reference to what he and his team were attempting to achieve.

“Are they working on making us fly like the birds?”

“Is it all just preparation for a new generation of illusionists and would-be magicians?”

“Do they think they are inventing the solution to New York City’s traffic problems down there?”

So went the humorous, witty, and mocking reactions to the program that seemed stalled and without results.

Director Jeff Clago was outraged at the public and private treatment that his work was getting. Did people expect him and his crew to be producing miracles?

They had spent two years experimenting with magnetic power, duplicating trials carried out elsewhere around the world, extending areas of knowledge that others had pioneered in. Nothing new or startling had resulted.

But now scientific interest at the Institute had turned to a less know, not too publicized a sector.

Jeff had also had great interest in the field of audio waves. Ultrasound appeared to have a degree of physical force to it that might be harnessed for different purposes.

Could levitation through empty space have possibilities? wondered the young, ambitious researcher.

Jeff was always eager to discuss the aims of his research with the mass media of New York, especially with the “Daily Press” and its technology special correspondent, Scott Webb. The latter became an early enthusiast for the possibilities in the application of ultrasound energy. He asked his friend, the scientist, to keep him abreast of advances and new developments in the work underway.

“This field of investigation first opened up back in the 1940’s. And in recent times there has been great progress in our ability to focus and synchronous sound waves of all frequencies. Miniaturized transducers are so small and powerful that they permit the construction of not hundreds, but thousands and thousands of organized, ordered sound sources, all of them acting in parallel together. We are capable of producing a coordinated lattice of sound, never before possible.

“All of these waves that are lined up together are, of course, pitched far above the human range of hearing. By concentrating the tens of thousands of ultra-sound, we have been able to lift up and levitate small objects- balls, cubes, and even a mouse. Our capacity and skill has grown in recent days, Scott. Everything is ready to try the ultimate act of elevation.”

“You are referring to a human being raised upward?” asked the fascinated, entranced young reporter from the “Daily Press”.

“Precisely,” answered the tall, lanky scientist. An undecipherable smile crossed his spare face. “My aim is to make people independently airborne, without any kind of external engine involved.”

Scott sighed, thinking of the meaning that his friend’s success might someday bring with it.

The main rival of the “New York Daily Press” for several generations had been “The Morning Call”, owned and published by the wealthy, influential Boch family. The present president of the media empire accumulated over more than a century was the hyperactive Albert Boch. He was a middle-aged bachelor who gave all his time, energy, and personal interest to the newspaper portion of his inherited business.

Albert read all the multitude of New York dailies and kept track of what was most popular and attractive in every edition out on the streets.

As he studied the reports on acoustical levitation written in the “Press” by Scott Webb, his ears and antenna went up. Here was a subject that his newspaper was being scooped on. He began to rail at his city editor. Why was his own “Morning Call” falling behind its competitor in this area of scientific discovery? He ordered his staff to focus upon the possible implications of what was happening at the Technical Institute. “We have to be wide awake and watchful for what may be happening behind the scene,” he admonished his employees in both written and oral messages. “We must never concede the territory of technological novelties to our enemy, “The Daily Press”.

A platoon of city reporters had a new special assignment: following the progress of the bold experimentation led by Dr. Jeff Clago.

How was he going to begin his field trials of the transducer lattice apparatus? pondered the chief of the levitation project. His decision was a bold one: he would seek permission from the New York Park Commission to use a treeless part of Central Park for a test of the coordinated, synchronized system of sound waves that could concentrate and focus millions of sound waves.

Police lines and fencing made of ropes and chains could keep the curious public away at a safe distance. There would be no danger to them, nor could anyone interfere with or obstruct the experiment in any way.

Who would be the human acting as the test’s subject? It was a difficult decision for Jeff to reach by himself, so he decided to ask for advice from his close associate, Scott Webb of “The Daily Press”.

It occurred at his academic office at the New York Institute of Technology one morning in April.

“Spring is rapidly advancing outside, no doubt of that,” began the scientist. “What do you think, Scott, if I hold the first open demonstration of the ultrasound system out in the open, in Central Park, where everybody can come and see it happen. Wouldn’t that draw a big spotlight to what can be done with modern advanced electronic acoustics?”

The newspaperman thought quickly, with all his mental acuity. “But what if something should go wrong? How do we deal with news that causes the project even the smallest public embarrassment? Have you considered that kind of possibility?” He gave his friend a searching, inquiring look.

Jeff decided to exert an image of boldness and audacity, a method he had learned from experience would lift up his own spirit and courage. “I have no fear of anything going off the track. Not at all. In fact, I believe that I should be the test subject myself. No special ability or knowledge is required. An average human being is fit for ultrasound levitation. Besides, wouldn’t it attract public attention to have the scientist primarily responsible for the development of the lattice system going up in the air on the sound waves?

“I can imagine that it will attract attention across the country, around the whole world.”

Jeff waited to hear words of confirmation from the reporter, but they did not come forth as he expected.

“If that is what you want to do, then I will not stop you,” muttered Scott. “But I believe that you will be taking an enormous risk out there in public.”

Neither said any more on the matter at that particular time.

The announcement that the city government had given its permission to the public test and demonstration filled New York City with a fresh, new sensation. Talk spread everywhere. How high was the professor involved going to be lifted into the air above Central Park? What if there was some catastrophic accident? Was it going to be some kind of trick, some optical illusion using laser light? How might such an invention change life in the world metropolis?

Such questions mesmerized the masses, bringing stupendous crowds of onlookers to the periphery of the site on the Saturday the flight upward was scheduled.

Mobile cameras in the thousands were pointed at the bare lattice platform from which the ascension was to start.

Television and internet cable were present to carry visuals around the planet instantly.

Jeff Clago, dressed in simple blue laboratory fatigues, stepped out of a hired limousine and made his way to where his assistants had set and calibrated the apparatus. The air seemed to crackle with nervous excitement.

The short, skinny form of Scott Webb stood next to the levitating transducer array. His face was covered with anxious perspiration. How is this adventure going to end? his mind continued to wonder.

Jeff smiled as he stepped onto the top of the sound lattice and waited for the production of focused waves to start. The system was a perfectly soundless one. It was only a couple of seconds, though, before he felt the upward pressure on the bottom of his polystyrene slipper-like sandals.

The force of the pressure below grew until it began to lift the scientist into the air.

Muffled sighs arose from thousands of throats. The young were unable to stifle their cries of encouragement. Excitement seized every mind and heart in Central Park, Gotham, around the U.S. and the world.

Jeff climbed a hundred and fifty feet into the atmosphere. He felt his pulse accelerating to its natural limit of safety. His bluish-gray eyes filled with tears of joy.

He gave a small waving signal with his right hand, the sign agreed upon to lower the volume of the waves and bring him back to the ground of Central Park.

The effect of the feat committed by Jeff Clago was immediate and sensational. No one had ever done anything so unimaginable. The mass media were packed with details concerning how it was achieved. The public seemed mesmerized by what this foretold about future transportation. How could ultrasound levitation be applied in a place like New York City?

Jeff Clago held a number of press conferences at an assembly hall at the Institute of Technology. He answered the many questions posed to him as best he could. The recognition that he was now a celebrity dawned on him. He decided to make a public appeal for increased research funds for the study of perfection of his lattice platform.

But without being aware of it, his successful Central Park levitating demonstration had incited the publisher of the “New York Morning Call” to a fever pitch of spiteful anger.

Albert Boch called the leading figures of his City Room into his gigantic Lower Manhattan office on the top floor of his corporate building and addressed them. Although small and obese, he made up in energetic aggressiveness for what he lacked in height and stature.

“This is intolerable,” he fumed, standing in front of the gathered staff managers. “Our main enemy, “The Daily Press”, is beating us day after day on a story that has all the marks of a fraudulent magic trick. You and I know that all this talk of ultrasound power is an illusionary fiction, a deceptive lie. I myself recognized it for what it is from the earliest moment it showed its false head to the public. And New York has bought it all, thanks to this Scott Webb who presents it every day in the media, both print and electronic.

“From the start, I ordered all of you to expose the thing for what it is, a hoax pretending to be hard science. But what I got from you was slow and hesitant, completely inadequate in publicizing the painful truth to the public. As a result, we have fallen far behind the “Press”. They are now the leaders, and we have become the laggers, perceived as out-of-touch with this modern fad for levitation by any and all means.”

Boch paused for breath a moment, surveying the collected staff with scornful brown eyes.

“I want to see the man behind it all, this Dr. Clago, shown for what he is, a lying trickster, a faker without any principles. No mercy at all will be given to him and his mouthpiece, Scott Webb of the “Press”. This will be an all-out assault, like a military attack in desperate battle.

“I am your general and you are my combat troops,” concluded the publisher, hot sweat pouring over his wide brow.

Both Jeff and Scott were in an ecstasy of high emotions for days after the marvelous success in Central Park.

How can we take this application of ultrasound even further? both of them considered and wrestled with. It was the newspaperman who came up with a series of conceivable options.

“It can be repeated at any prominent New York site,” he told his partner in the latter’s office at the Technological Institute. ” He mentioned the option of Times Square, Herald Square, and Washington Square. “All three could hold very large crowds of onlookers. But the City government might be against the traffic snarl that would result. No question of that.” He thought with effort for a spell, coming up with an original idea. “How about on the Brooklyn Bridge? That would present a spectacle visible from both shares, from both Brooklyn and Manhattan. And there is room enough for those who wish to be close by the levitation location. I think that would be an excellent next choice. What do you say to it, Jeff?”

The latter lit up with a bright grin. “You are a genius of public relations, my friend,” he chirped. “Let’s see what the authorities say to such a plan.”

The City Department of Transportation closed the six lower lanes of the venerable span to automobile traffic for several noontime hours to permit use of the upper pedestrian walkway by the levitation team from the Technology Institute. A giant semi brought the ultrasound lattice apparatus onto the walkway’s central lane, usually restricted to bicycles. Enormous numbers of spectators advanced onto both the vehicular and pedestrian levels of the historic structure.

This was to be something that had never occurred before on the beloved Brooklyn Bridge.

The person to be lifted into the sky on waves of sound was once again to be Dr. Jeff Clago. His nervousness was as severe and visible as on the first public demonstration, in Central Park.

Scott assured him in the moments before the ascent was due to start.

“Don’t worry, this will be even easier than it was the first time. Everything is going to turn out the way it’s supposed to. The whole world will be seeing you on the electronic web, and it will impressive everyone everywhere.”

Jeff forced himself to smile. “I hope you are right,” he was able to mutter.

Onto the surface of the lattice platform composed of nano-scale transducers stepped the scientist. From all directions and different heights, heads turned to watch his every motion. His rise began slowly, almost imperceptive in its initial stage. But Jeff soon felt the increasing upward trust of sound waves. Breathless crowds took in the ascension of the tall, thin figure dressed in laboratory togs. What had always been thought impossible was now happening in front of thousands who were present and millions who were at a distance.

Jeff looked at the Manhattan skyline from a position and angle never experienced by anyone before.

I am now a pioneer in something no one else has ever before been able to accomplish, the happy levitator told himself as he soared above the bridge’s suspension cables and support towers.

He looked down and gave his assistants a hand signal to let him descend back to the walkway.

Albert Boch was beside himself with boiling anger. The disaster he had predicted had not materialized. Instead, another momentous victory occurred for Scott Webb and the “New York Daily Press”.

The frustrated, dispirited publisher found it impossible to sleep, torturing himself with regret and self-blame. Why did I lose twice to these upstarts? What can I do to gain revenge on those who have humiliated me?

Seemingly out of nowhere, a method of defeating the ultrasound levitation group occurred to him.

A dare, a challenge had to be presented to his foes. That was it: something that would surely be impossible for Dr. Clago and his media advisor to carry out. But what would be adequate for such a result?

Long thought on that question produced an answer.

Go up through the air to the summit of the Empire State Building. That was the dare that would tempt and then defeat the levitators from the Institute of Technology. That was the way to destroy this sick circus act.

The challenge was presented simultaneously on the front page of the “New York Morning Call” and in a registered letter addressed to Jeff Clago. The anticipated reply, an acceptance of the dare, arrived immediately.

Both the inventor and the journalist were eager to show Albert Boch that he was underestimating what they were capable of.

Fifth Avenue between 33rd and 34th Streets was cordoned off for the daring experiment.

The Empire State Building, with its top tower and antennas, stood 1,454 feet in height. That would be a record distance to levitate, everyone around Jeff understood. None of them, though, was as confident of coming out victorious as Jeff Clago himself.

“This will be my final performance,” he told Scott. “Once it is finished, I am determined to allow others to take over the work up in the air.”

Once again, the public and the mass media were fully present. The picture of the ascent was to be shown to the entire planet, on all its continents. This levitation was to be the highest one ever recorded. It would be the crowning jewel in the series completed by Jeff.

Scott was persistent in speaking words of confident encouragement to the one about to make another major ascent with ultrasound waves his only physical support. “This will be a higher goal than before,” smiled the reporter. “But everything else will be the same. You will have the power of the lattice transducers holding up your weight and moving you up and down parallel to the building’s structure. There is nothing at all to be worried about.”

Jeff nodded affirmatively and approached the platform he would soon be riding upon.

The noise of the milling crowds filling up 5th Avenue and 34th Street about the Empire State filled the clear New York air. Cameras of all shapes and sizes transmitted or preserved pictures of the event. What else in the life of Gotham could have acted as such a powerful magnet of interest? An unreal mesmerism enchanted the multitude.

The ultrasound floor started to move slowly in a vertical direction. Speed accelerated with each passing second.Jeff felt his body sway a little bit as the platform accelerated. He did not look down toward the ground at all, but watched the passing windows of the great skyscraper.

Reports of what was happening spread in all directions. A strangely familiar silence seized hold of Jeff’s ears and mind. He suddenly felt as if he were alone, existing all by himself. No one else now mattered to him.

Jeff realized at a certain moment that his journey into the air was almost finished, that he was nearing his destination at the top balcony of the structure, with only the electronic antennae above it. The trip would soon be over, he kept repeating to himself. He was near his goal, success was becoming imminent.

Then an unexpected, unforeseen sensation affected the body of the levitator. It began at his feet, then spread up through the legs into the upper portion of his tall, lanky body.

It took several seconds for Jeff to understand that he was falling. Downward pressure upon him was increasing. There was accelerating in the speed of what had started to happen to him.

I am going to smash into the sidewalk below and no longer be among the living, a voice inside him said starkly.

The assistants from the Institute of Technology circled about the ultrasound transmitters and transducers, trying to find out what had gone wrong.

Had there been some break in electrical energy? What could be causing the interruption, the sudden outage?

No one was as affected as Scott Webb. This was headed toward the ultimate catastrophe of death, a total smash-up of final proportions and dimensions. Everything was going to be destroyed along with Jeff and the platform he was on.

All of a sudden, in a fraction of a single second, the correspondent did the unimaginable, the seemingly unreasonable. It was what a madman of some kind might have done.

He jumped directly on top of the ultrasound lattice of ultrasound nano-mechanisms.

He pitched himself forward, losing his balance and falling down into a prone position on top of the transducers that had for some reason stopped operating, that no longer kept the levitator climbing into the sky.

A united sigh arose from the paralyzed spectators.

The man above, who had been in free fall, now was once again in a climb. Radical reversal od direction had somehow occurred. All eyes were on the rising platform holding Jeff Clago. An uncanny rescue had happened in a spli second.

It turned out to be a day of triumph for Jeff, Scott, and the Institute of Technology.

Ultrasound had proven itself once again as a worthy system in all respects.

No one was certain what had caused the critical interruption, or how the action by Scott Webb had restored the transmission of ultrasound waves.

The only person not rejoicing on the event next to the Empire State Building happened to be Albert Boch, owner and publisher of the “New York Morning Call”.

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