But a study in Cell Reports Physical Science describes a hands-off technique to move liquid that’s reminiscent of waterbending, a boon for Avatar, the Last Airbender fans who might want to control water with their minds.
In the study, researchers used small metal beads to collect and move water across a surface. They dubbed it the hydrobot.
The hydrobot maneuvers tiny beads with a magnet. The beads attract droplets, which are collected into a small puddle.
See it in action:
The beads, which are extremely hydrophilic, easily suck the water droplets off a hydrophobic surface.
As the researchers added more beads, they found the hydrorobot was able to move larger puddles.
"One advantage of Hydrobot is that the materials ... are easily accessible. If a task requires controlling a larger amount of water, we can simply use more beads."
And since water is extremely flexible, the hydrobot could one day be used to squeeze into small spaces and perform tasks like medical diagnostics, biotechnology, energy harvesting, cargo transportation, and cleaning.
So while we might not use our minds to control water anytime soon, we could one day use a device to manipulate it without our hands.