The force is strong with a group of science types, as they believe the lightsaber is actually possible. Yes, please.
Let’s do an experiment. Go into your garage, sort through the mountains of useful objects you have accumulated over the decades and pull two hand-held torches out from the rubble. Carefully retreat to the comfort of your bedroom or study, draw your blinds, close the shutters and turn off all the lights.
Now surrounded by complete darkness, take a deep breath and shine both torches directly at each other. Observe.
For all those who’ve completely disregarded the above instructions, here’s what you would have seen: absolutely nothing peculiar. The photons of light cross each other without interference. Sound anticlimactic to you? Well, let’s change it up a bit. What if we could somehow cause the photons to interact with other, attracting and repelling like magnets?
Well, this would happen.
To make this tantalising display of light possible, the laws of physics would have to be broken. However a group of MIT and Harvard scientists today believe they’ve solved this quandary.
Quite simply, the group shone very weak laser beams through a dense, ultra-cold cloud of rubidium atoms and observed groups of photons interacting and essentially sticking to each other to produce a completely new type of “photonic” matter.
Photons normally have no mass, and they travel at the speed of light. However, these clumps actually acquired mass. Yes, light clumps of mass! And then weighted down particles travelled 10,0000 times slower than normal photons.
Such evidence suggests that it is, in fact, possible for light to interact with itself.
This primitive lightsaber technology can also be applied to incredibly complex quantum physics equations. Going forward, the team plan to look for ways to control the interaction, causing photons to scatter like billiard balls and trace patterns in the air.
Star Wars might not be science fiction for that much longer – save the aliens and explosions heard in the vacuum of space – thanks to a rather obscure testing in a lab far, far away.
I for one, can’t wait to murder me some younglings.