Over the years, science fiction has shaped the mind of many a young scientist and set them on a course to make reality the fictions of their childhood but perhaps never has that pursuit been more geared towards adolescent fulfillment than in scientists attempt to make the famous weapon of the Jedi the lightsaber, or as Obi-Wan would say an elegant weapon from a more civilized age. That’s right, continuing our Star Wars themed week here at The Eclectic Eccentric this edition of We Can Do That Now is going to focus on the dream of every fanboy the possibility of owning your very own fully functional lightsaber.
Okay I admit that I’m jumping the gun (blade) a bit here. Normally in We Can Do That Now I’m giving you a fully formed if infant technology that looks like something out of science fiction but its Star Wars week so I’m going to push the boundaries a bit about what qualifies as infant.
The truth is lightsabers as described in the Star Wars universe are kind of impossible according to our current understanding of physics. A lot of the properties associated with lasers just aren’t hard light sword compatible. The most glaring problem being that lasers would not clash but rather pass through each other. But recently this problem may have had a breakthrough. A contingent of MIT and Harvard scientists have found a way to harden light photons so that they can in fact be coaxed into clashing and colliding rather than just passing through each other. While this discovery is more important for the field of quantum computing than lightsaber building it does rekindle hope that we might just one day get lightsabers after all.
Until then we’ll just have to settle for pale imitations. Perhaps the closest to a lightsaber we’ve come is a new portable device unveiled by the US Air Force earlier this year. The TEC Torch is a small metal tube that when initiated unleashes a controlled stream of super-heated plasma that can reach 4000 degrees Fahrenheit. Right now it’s meant to be used by military and rescue personal for quick breaches either in combat situation or to cut through wreckage during rescue operations. No you can’t exactly use it as a sword but its compact, lightweight, and can cut through most metals quickly and efficiently and most importantly when your done it looks like a Jedi’s been there.
So there you have it. Like I explained at the top we’re not really at the place where lightsabers are an everyday thing (and giving the Jedi’s rate of limb loss maybe that’s a good thing) but a few breakthroughs in recent technologies indicate that we may still have a chance at achieving the coolest weapon this galaxy has ever known. Until next time.