Give Now

A Moment of Science

Real Lightsabers?

While science still has a long ways to go, new research gives us hope that we may be able to make a real lightsaber someday.

Different colored laser beams intersect in the darkness

Photo: Magnus Manske (Wikimedia Commons)

Normally, when laser beams intersect, they pass right through one another.

Dear A Moment of Science, I have a two-part question. First, is it possible for scientists to make a real lightsaber like the ones in Star Wars? And second, how cool would it be if they could? Signed, Wannabe Jedi.

Well, Wannabe, let’s answer part two first. It would be very, very cool if scientists figured out a way to build actual light sabers. But as for part one, although science is still very far away from being able to make lightsabers that work like they do in Star Wars, there’s some evidence that lightsaber technology might someday become a reality.

Now, anyone who’s seen Star Wars – which is pretty much everyone — knows that when one lightsaber blade hits another, sparks fly as the two energy beams clash. In real life, though, when two laser beams intersect, they basically pass right through each other.

That’s because photons have virtually no mass and so typically don’t interact with each other. But scientists at MIT and Harvard have figured out a way to get photons to interact, albeit under very specific conditions.

Specific as in shooting a string of photons through a chamber filled with ultra cold, vaporized rubidium atoms. When the beam comes out the other side, scientists observed photons emerging in pairs. In other words, something about the conditions in the chamber made the photons attract each other and pair up.

While this phenomenon is very far away from simulating anything like a working lightsaber, it’s a potential step in the right direction.

Read More:

  • Physicists One Step Closer to Creating Real-Life Lightsabers (CBS News)
  • Science trumps the Force to create a real-life lightsaber (CNET)
  • Bent Hansen

    It is possible to build a real light-saber. But a few problems have to be solved first.

    First there is a power problem. Making a lightsaber that Works like in the movie, would have to juse som sort of power ( or it would not Work at all ) and wee have not yet build that kind of power in that small skala. How ever it possible, it will take a few million to build and develop.

    The NeXT problem you run in to, is to control the beam ( laser ) it would have to stop at som point, or it will just keep sending out, the laser – beam.This is a easy problem to solved, it will just take a mirror which can send the laser beam back and forth under control. .This will send a laser beam from the hilt, to a mirror, and back Again, and then forword (continued back and forword´s etc-etc. ) It possible, but will cost ALOT OF MONEY TO MAKE !

    The next problem is, as it say´s her, a laser beam will NOT fight each other of

    like in the movie. This Means that you ( well anyone who like to make a real lightsaber ) most find a way to give the laser-beam a phenomenon. This is somthing that on one have begun to understand or build, in a real small skala, and for the moment wee ( humen ) dosen realy understand that contess of that, as this is a relatively new technology

    .

    So for now, and with in the next 50 or maybe 100 years, you ( wee ) have to settle for “the real thing” in the movie. Maybe your kids when there are like 50 or 60 years old, they can have fun with a real lightsaber.

    Who know´s ?! At the moment, researchers and scientists are more concerned with developing mass destruction weapons, computeres and other idea´s like making a car that can run on oil or somthing like that.

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from A Moment of Science:

Support for Indiana Public Media Comes From

About A Moment of Science

Search A Moment of Science