A lightsaber may be the ultimate weapon. Beautifully elegant, powerful, referred to as “the most iconic weapon of all time,” by Hasbro’s Kim Boyd, lightsabers have captured the imagination of generations of Star Wars fans. But – setting aside for a moment the associated health and safety risks – could we ever construct a real-life lightsaber?
The most obvious place to start when trying to build a lightsaber is with lasers. Lasers are already used in everything from eye surgery to hair removal, so why not use them to construct a deadly weapon to wield against the Dark Side?
Sadly, there are a whole host of problems with this idea.
Firstly, light doesn’t tend to stop when it’s told, and a laser beam emitted out of a lightsaber handle would carry on forever – not particularly convenient. A mirrored tip might solve this problem but would compromise the weapon’s style. This also raises the point that a mirror could be used in a potentially disastrous reflective defence.
There are other, aesthetic concerns: lasers beams are almost invisible and, unlike proper lightsabers, they are not only silent but also pass straight through each other instead of clashing violently on contact. Keeping in mind that a huge supply pack would be required to power the laser and prevent it from overheating, it is clear that lasers are not the way to go.
However, all is not lost. A plasma lightsaber would be able to sustain high enough temperatures to slice through anything in its path, and could emit light of various colours based on its gas source – green chlorine for the Jedis, red helium for the Sith.
With the promise of a plasma lightsaber on the horizon, you can be sure that, someone, somewhere (perhaps in a galaxy far far away) is working hard to make lightsabers a reality.
Photo: Flickr, JD Hancock