Saturday, December 19, 2015

Possibility of Light Saber

Today, the world is inflicted with a Star Wars fever, having the new Star Wars movie "The Force Awakens" already out in the theaters. It has been an iconic movie with lots of futuristic gadgetry and weapons, and one can immediately point out the light saber to be a cutting-edge, laser-based blade. 

In one of my physics lectures, I was once sidelined by a question on the technological feasibility of a light saber. The answer is not even close for the next 50 years. 

First, it's impossible to solidify light that will terminate in midair, just like a wielded light saber. Photon itself is a component of light and must travel at a speed of light at any pointed direction with beams that will stretch all throughout the sky(if pointed upwards). 

Second, the energy requirement(12,000 degrees Fahrenheit) to create such an immense lasing material is tantamount to tapping a powerplant, typically several orders of magnitude to around 10 to the 6th power of megawatt energy. Or to address portability issue, you can also use a miniature hydrogen bomb(packs of lithium deuteride) which isn't really a sound idea. 

The closest to a light saber is a Plasma Torch, made up of superheated ionized inert gas(neon in a magnetic field), and perhaps this might pave way to the advent of this technology. 

So for now, just enjoy a light saber toy because it will remain to be a toy for a long time.

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