Lightsabers have long been the weapon apple of the fanboy eye. Since first being introduced by Obi-Wan Kenobi to Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, who among us hasn’t taken a flashlight out in the night, pointed it at the sky and pretended we were fighting the dark side and Darth Vader? Recent scientific developments could have us replacing those Mag-Lites with the real thing. Scientists are working on technology that could begin to bring along something akin to what we’ve seen in the movies with the real-life binding of photons. It could mean actual lightsabers are coming sooner than later.
Before you head on over to Amazon and search for “real lightsabers” or begin saving your pennies for what a lightsaber would actually take to purchase, know that we are still at the beginning stages of this process. Scientists from the Harvard-MIT Center for Ultra-Cold Atoms (not a bad collegiate pairing when we are getting the brain trust together) have reportedly found a way for photons to bind and interact with each other, a key component in the posited power behind the lightsaber.
This lightsaber-esque discovery is a never before seen type of matter which has photons interacting with each other to form molecules. Forget everything you know about photons of light having no mass (why your flashlight didn’t do anything against anyone) because according to the study these new photon interactions are pushing and deflecting off each other. This reaction creates an energy around the photons and among the surrounding atoms. The scientists in the study go as far as to use the word “lightsaber” in their comparisons. Ever wonder why no one should ever pick on brains in the class? This is exactly the reason. They’ll take the cool and powerful stuff that was only dreamed about in movies like lightsabers and make them real.
Heck, look back only a few weeks ago scientists were able to recreate a microscopic version of the Star Trek: Voyager ship which is going to help in studying how microswimmers can deliver antibodies and other things to different bodily systems. What a glorious time to relive all the things we loved growing up, now in real-life tech form. If lightsabers and Starfleet ships are possible, the galaxy is the limit.
This new science around lightsaber technology is still in its infancy. At this point, scientists have only begun having photons (two at a time) interact with each other, bond, and form a new molecule. But that new matter is definitely having an effect on the surrounding mass, causing what the scientists refer to as an “excitement” in the vicinity around the bound photons. But according to the study, lightsabers aren’t the main goal here. They are thinking much bigger with regards to quantum computing. These photon reactions are necessary for that process and what has folks really excited about the discovery.
For now, our interactions with lightsabers will have to stick with the expanding Star Wars Universe on the small and big screen. With plenty of new shows coming to Disney+ to accompany The Mandalorian, a whole new generation is being introduced to the ways of the force. And you never know, by the time they grow up they might not be pointing flashlights at the sky. They could be holding the real thing.