Norris is demonstrating something called HyperSonic Sound (HSS). The aluminum plate is connected to a CD player and an odd amplifier — actually, a very odd and very new amplifier — that directs sound much as a laser beam directs light. Over the past few years, mainly in secret, he has shown the device to more than 300 major companies, and it has slackened a lot of jaws. In December, the editors of Popular Science magazine bestowed upon HSS its grand prize for new inventions of 2002, choosing it over the ferociously hyped Segway scooter. It is no exaggeration to say that HSS represents the first revolution in acoustics since the loudspeaker was invented 78 years ago — and perhaps only the second since pilgrims used ”whispering tubes” to convey their dour messages.