Menu
Home

Physics

MIT, Harvard scientists accidentally create real-life lightsaber

Star Wars Light Saber Fight

Luke Skywalker engages in a perilous lightsaber duel with Darth Vader in 'Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back.'Lucas Films/ZUMA Press

The force is clearly with them.

In a reported first, researchers at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a newfangled technology that theoretically could be used to construct an actual lightsaber.

Until now, photons, or the mass-less particles that constitute light, were thought to not interact, but rather simply pass through each other, just two beams of luminescence during a laser-light show.

"The physics of what’s happening in these molecules is similar to what we see in the movies.”

- Mikhail Lukin, Harvard physics professor

But according to the Harvard Gazette, scientists at the Harvard-MIT Center for Ultracold Atoms have improbably coaxed photons into hardened molecules you could, in fact, whack against each other in, say, a Bespin-based duel-to-the-death resulting in one person, sadly, losing a hand.

As a lightsaber-wielding Darth Vader once notably noted, “Don’t make me destroy you . . .”

“It’s not an inapt analogy to compare this to lightsabers,” Harvard professor of physics Mikhail Lukin told the Gazette.

“When these photons interact with each other, they’re pushing against and deflecting each other. The physics of what’s happening in these molecules is similar to what we see in the movies.”

Added MIT Professor of Physics Vladan Vuletic in an interview with WBZ-TV, “It has long been a dream to have photons of light beams interact with one another. . .We use laser beams and shine them in from six sides and these laser beams actually cool the atoms.

“Maybe a characteristic of a lightsaber is that you have these two light beams and they don’t go through each other as you might expect; they just kind of bounce off each other.”

However, don’t expect the new technology to soon result in a real-life, proverbial “elegant weapon for a more civilized age,” as exiled Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobe once put it.

Instead, the science behind the recent breakthrough will likely lead researchers to realizing the till-now coveted concept of quantum computing.

“What it will be useful for we don’t know yet,” Lukin reportedly said. “But it’s a new state of matter, so we are hopeful that new applications may emerge as we continue to investigate these photonic molecules’ properties.”

Now, if science would only allow the would-be smugglers out there to get their hands on a trusty blaster.