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Light sabers

Physicists invent real light saber, just like the ones used in Star Wars

Thursday, October 17, 2013 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: light sabers, Star Wars, particle physics

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(NaturalNews) Since its debut in 1977, George Lucas' Star Wars series has been as visionary as it has been successful. One of the most memorable of the movie's technological creations is the "light saber," which characters Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader used to battle enemies and each other.

Now, apparently, that technological marvel is close to reality, albeit accidentally, thanks to American physicists. Per the Guardian newspaper:

Wannabe Jedi Knights rejoice, for scientists have discovered that the famous lightsaber weapon wielded by Luke Skywalker and his ilk in the long-running space opera saga might one day exist beyond the realms of fiction.

Well, okay - not quite

The Harvard and MIT physicists, writing in the journal Nature, say they have discovered a technique that binds photons together to form a new molecule that behaves nearly exactly like the Star Wars weapons.

"Most of the properties of light we know about originate from the fact that photons are massless and do not interact," said Harvard university physics professor Mikhail Lukin. "What we have done is create a special type of medium in which photons interact with each other so strongly that they act as though they have mass, and bind together to form molecules.

"It's not an in-apt analogy to compare this to lightsabers. When these photons interact with each other, they're pushing against and deflect each other. The physics of what's happening in these molecules is similar to what we see in the movies," he says.

More from the Guardian:

Inexplicably, reports suggest that physicists have not yet begun the process of using the technology to build actual lightsaber-style weapons, nor have they perfected the THHHHHHWWWWOM! sound traditionally manifested when duelling Jedis do battle. With a new trilogy of Star Wars films on the way after studio Disney bought all rights to the series through its acquisition of LucasFilm for $4.05bn in October last year, one can only assume scientists are biding their time for a Christmas 2015 debut in toy stores.

Pushing the scientific envelope

So, real-life light sabers are here - sort of. Ryan Leston, who writes a Star Wars Blog for Yahoo! Contributor Network, notes, "The effect is caused by the Rydberg Blockade - a principle which states that when an atom is excited, atoms nearby can't be excited to the same degree."

Lukin said a lot of the light saber work is being done "for fun."

"And because we're pushing the frontiers of science. But it feeds into the bigger picture of what we're doing because photons remain the best possible means to carry quantum information. The handicap, though, has been that photons don't interact with each other," he said.





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