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The Science of Lightsabers

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the this-had-better-have-nothing-to-do-with-midichlorians dept.

Sci-Fi 232

sethmad writes "As everyone who's ever passed the GRE knows, there are two major hypothetical operational problems with Star Wars lightsabers. More accurately I should say there were two problems, because I solved both of them."

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232 comments

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What are your patent numbers? (3, Funny)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#36402798)

More accurately I should say there were two problems, because I solved both of them.

What are your patent numbers? :-)

Re:What are your patent numbers? (3, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403514)

And how many parsecs until they expire?

Re:What are your patent numbers? (3, Funny)

jmd_akbar (1777312) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403864)

And how many parsecs until they expire?

And here I thought Parsec was a unit of distance...

I want some (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36402812)

I want some of what he is smok'n
Come on dude share some...

The British.... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36402820)

We would call them Torches you idiot!

Re:The British.... (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403552)

touché

That still has the magnet problem... (3, Insightful)

Zakabog (603757) | more than 3 years ago | (#36402882)

If you're using a magnetic field to control the plasma then any magnet can still interfere with the light saber. For some reason I was expecting a much more technical article than 'its got a metal rod in the center, tada!'

Re:That still has the magnet problem... (5, Insightful)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 3 years ago | (#36402932)

Yeah, this was stupid and pointless, even by idle standards. Maybe /. needs to add a retarded section.

Re:That still has the magnet problem... (2)

dmgxmichael (1219692) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403064)

heh heh yup. I also thought that the largest problem with a lightsaber being plasma is that to cut as efficiently as portrayed it would roast anyone within a football field of it. Little problem called convection and the laws of thermodynamics.

Re:That still has the magnet problem... (-1, Offtopic)

GeorgeMonroy (784609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403280)

Don't say retarded:

http://www.thinkb4youspeak.com/ [thinkb4youspeak.com]

Re:That still has the magnet problem... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403330)

I don't know why, but I clicked on the link. That site is fucking retarded.

Re:That still has the magnet problem... (2)

sshirley (518356) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403524)

and gay

Re:That still has the magnet problem... (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403646)

Faggy.

Re:That still has the magnet problem... (2)

XanC (644172) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403336)

Don't say "don't say retarded".

Re:That still has the magnet problem... (2)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403376)

So, you're saying /. needs a 'gay' section? Fair enough.

Re:That still has the magnet problem... (1)

cozzbp (1845636) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403392)

I get very offended when people are offended at the negative language I use.

Re:That still has the magnet problem... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403760)

As a homosexual, your forced political correctness offends me.

Fag. [southparkstudios.com]

Re:That still has the magnet problem... (4, Interesting)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403104)

When I was younger (and nerdier) I once proposed a similar but more sensible version using in-universe technology that was well understood by Starwars fans: force fields. Obviously, starships have shields that keep asteroids, debris, weapons and projectiles from damaging them. Similarly, speeders and various devices apply forces at a distance to hover and float. Why can't this technology be used to harness a plasma field as a cutting device?

It stood to reason that the interaction of these repelling, focussing fields would result in the spark and fizzle of lightsabres clashing, as tiny amounts of plasma escaped. Likewise, the interactions would prevent the blades from passing through each other and also account for occasional 'sabre lock' where two blades are periodically joined and must be separated.

As I said, I was younger and nerdier back then.

Re:That still has the magnet problem... (2)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403542)

You were just younger. The fact that you're bragging about it now means you're still just as nerdy, if not more so ;)

Re:That still has the magnet problem... (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403188)

Yeah, I want to go with "a constant flux state between energy and matter" which is why it seems to have the properties of both matter and energy.

Re:That still has the magnet problem... (1)

techsoldaten (309296) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403364)

Well, that's just it, I don't think it's a form of plasma on the sabers (or that it cannot be). It has to be something projected through a crystalline substance. The heat of plasma is enough to cut through steel, a crystal would melt because of the intense heat it would require to generate it. Not to mention the fact that the saber itself would be incredibly hot to handle.

both? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36402894)

taking a shower and getting out of the basement? Congratulations!

excellent (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#36402902)

good. Now solve the next important world's mysteries: who are the 2 chicks in the Internets tubes (except for 2g1c) and how is driving or flying a DeLorean at 88MPH help it to move through time back and forward.

Oh, and if you can go ahead and do this by tomorrow, I have an important meeting I will need to provide this information at.

Your solution fails (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36402910)

You failed to solve #2. You retain the magnetic field, but don't offer a solution to the problem of interference.

Re:Your solution fails (1)

TemperedAlchemist (2045966) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403004)

Failed to solve #1 too, since it was a problem dealing with LIGHT and had nothing to do with plasma. If I tell you that it won't work with light and you tell me that it'll work with plasma as a retort, that's not proving me wrong.

Already Been Done (1)

STRICQ (634164) | more than 3 years ago | (#36402940)

This exact design was already described a few years ago by that Science/Discovery channel guy. Can't remember his name.

Re:Already Been Done (2)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403022)

If said guy used the extend-able metal tube to drink his own urine, chances are good it was Bear Grylls.

Re:Already Been Done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403118)

It was Michio Kaku.

Re:Already Been Done (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403410)

The people who tagged the article "dumb" are gonna feel dumb now.

Re:Already Been Done (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403764)

This exact design was already described a few years ago by that Science/Discovery channel guy. Can't remember his name.

The people who tagged the article "dumb" are gonna feel dumb now.

Or more likely they'll see it as yet another example of the aforementioned channel(s)' dumbing down. I mean, are you suggesting that the fact that this was shown on the same channel as American Chopper (a docu-soap/reality TV show whose connection with Discovery's original factual/educational remit is at best tenuous) somehow makes it more respectable rather than less?!

Re:Already Been Done (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403866)

You mis-chose the post I was replying to (maybe your view settings hid the lower-rated parent post). People called the article "dumb" with extreme prejudice when the idea was originally Michio Kaku's.

Re:Already Been Done (1)

IrquiM (471313) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403182)

Yeah, saw that show too - this idea is just a rip-off.

Why did this get posted? (5, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 3 years ago | (#36402944)

Come on. Half the comments on this story are probably going to be better than this dork's.

A light saber that used plasma would likely be hot. Hot enough that holding it would get very uncomfortable, magnetic field or no. And if the magnetic field is confining it, how does it get through the porous metal? Without destroying the metal? Where does the plasma come from if it's constantly leaking out? Why do lightsabers require focusing gems? How does a light saber deflect blaster and laser hits that would otherwise melt metal? How can lightsabers be an ancient weapon and the guy who designed them is still living on some planet somewhere?

Re:Why did this get posted? (2)

TemporalBeing (803363) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403358)

A light saber that used plasma would likely be hot. Hot enough that holding it would get very uncomfortable, magnetic field or no.

Valid point. Though temperature is highly dependent on the substance used to make the plasma and the amount of plasma to start with. And since we're in this fictional world - the handle could have a built-in cooling method that abates the temperature as it gets closer to the holder - that could even be part of the power system used to heat the plasma.

And if the magnetic field is confining it, how does it get through the porous metal? Without destroying the metal?

The magnetic field would need to exist outside the porous metal by at least a few millimeters to as much as a couple inches. Whether or not the metal is destroyed depends on the metal and its melting point. Thereby the metal used would have to have a melting point considerably higher than the temperature of the plasma.

Where does the plasma come from if it's constantly leaking out?

The magnetic field contains the plasma so while it is leaking out of the porous metal, it gets recycled back in later on. Thereby, no loss of substance. Perhaps the hottest parts are extruded from the tip and fall back towards the handle as they cool, following the flow of the magnetic field.

Why do lightsabers require focusing gems?

Perhaps to keep the temperature of the plasma just right? Perhaps to run the power source?

How does a light saber deflect blaster and laser hits that would otherwise melt metal?

Magnetic fields are well known for changing the direction of light, even subtly. Of course, aside from the fact that the field/plasma would burn/melt a bullet - it wouldn't be much help in all cases.

How can lightsabers be an ancient weapon and the guy who designed them is still living on some planet somewhere?

Depends on your definition of ancient. The guy could be from a race that lives for a very, very long time. Yoda was nearly 1000 when he died in episode 5; and the Palpatine was at least as old as Yoda from the back story given - yet didn't look it until the end of Episode 3 when he had to draw from everything built up in him to fight off the Jedi as opposed to using it to maintain his age. So anything is possible - especially in such a fictional universe.

Of course, this also means that the magnetic field would have to be finely tuned for the materials used (perhaps accounting for the differences in color between different light sabers), and it would also suffer from magnetic interference from numerous sources - some of which would be fatal to its use or longevity as a weapon.

And, of course, there is the simpler solution which applies only in the fictional Star Wars Universe - the light saber itself is not actually a laser/light/plasma blade but made up of the force (in a physical, more concentrated form of the midoclorians) as manipulated by its wielder, thereby requiring the ability to manipulate the force to use it (consistent with Star Wars AFAIK). Stronger users of the force could therefore have longer blades if desired, and the focusing gem is just a focal point for the wielder. In other words, the light saber is just a smaller, more useful version of the lightning emitted by powerful Jedi/Sithe that can be used with less skill in the force by those that have been properly trained. Sadly, this does nothing for science in the real world.

Re:Why did this get posted? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403488)

"The magnetic field would need to exist outside the porous metal by at least a few millimeters to as much as a couple inches. Whether or not the metal is destroyed depends on the metal and its melting point. Thereby the metal used would have to have a melting point considerably higher than the temperature of the plasma."

Why don't they make the whole plane out of the stuff they make the black boxes with?

IE, if you could just get metal that had a higher melting point, wouldn't all of the empire be built with the stuff to stop Jedi from shredding it and costing a fortune to replace?

J

Re:Why did this get posted? (2)

kimvette (919543) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403498)

And, of course, there is the simpler solution which applies only in the fictional Star Wars Universe - the light saber itself is not actually a laser/light/plasma blade but made up of the force (in a physical, more concentrated form of the midoclorians) as manipulated by its wielder, thereby requiring the ability to manipulate the force to use it (consistent with Star Wars AFAIK). Stronger users of the force could therefore have longer blades if desired, and the focusing gem is just a focal point for the wielder. In other words, the light saber is just a smaller, more useful version of the lightning emitted by powerful Jedi/Sithe that can be used with less skill in the force by those that have been properly trained. Sadly, this does nothing for science in the real world.

And yet, Han Solo, an athiest analog in the Star Wars universe who refused to believe in the force, was able to use a light saber to cut open a tauntaun.

What happened to just enjoying a fantasy story at face value and not geeking out over the petty little details?

(I'm so ashamed I remember not only little details of the plot but creature names as well!)

Sigh, STOP encouraring them (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403920)

You can't "explain" fiction by adding your own fiction. IF you want to play the game of debating a fictional universe, you got to accept that universe as it is.

Lightsabers are for most of the lore of Star Wars ordinary weapons that anyone can use. However, since blasters do exist ONLY someone skilled enough to deflect incoming blaster shots (not laser shots) would survive long enough to make any use of it.

Once you can make use of the lightsaber to deflect incoming shots it becomes a valuable weapon with some sense behind it. It is supposed to be far less energy consuming then blasters, can be used in more ways, and a blaster doesn't help you deal with incoming fire.

Respect the lore or don't bother.

Retconning the grand-parents gibberish is called and it lead to mideclorians or whatever they were called. I

Re:Why did this get posted? (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403912)

"Depends on your definition of ancient. The guy could be from a race that lives for a very, very long time. Yoda was nearly 1000 when he died in episode 5; and the Palpatine was at least as old as Yoda from the back story given."

Palpatine was 82 years old when the Battle of Yavin happened in A New Hope, not as old as Yoda.

Re:Why did this get posted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403468)

Come on. Half the comments on this story are probably going to be better than this dork's.

You got that right!

A light saber that used plasma would likely be hot. Hot enough that holding it would get very uncomfortable, magnetic field or no.

Ever heard of cold plasma.....guess not:

http://www.physorg.com/news6688.html

"The plume can be up to 5 centimetres long, with the length depending on the flow rate of the helium and the size of the voltage pulses. The plume remains at room temperature and can be touched by bare hands."

Granted this isn't the 1.5m blade we've come to expect, but then again, they've (the Jedi or whomever) have had a lot more time to R&D this....

PS giving this some more thought....cold plasma would make a lousy weapon if you could touch it with bare hands....but maybe by amp'ing up the temp, you'd get a longer blade....hmmmm....where'd I leave that portable flashlight-sized transformer with the cold fusion battery....

Re:Why did this get posted? (1)

drcln (98574) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403618)

ceoyoyo said:

Come on. Half the comments on this story are probably going to be better than this dork's.

Not so far.

Re:Why did this get posted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403820)

You're trying to explain physics in a fictional universe where people have magic powers. If you knew what a vagina felt like, you wouldn't waste your time with this.

Sincerely,
The cute girl who wishes you had a set of balls

Sigh, and you call yourself a geek (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403862)

You are debating this tiny kids silly answer of there being a metal rod inside when there can't be one inside from the fiction that came up with the idea.

This kid think he is so smart but forgets to actually read the material where the lightsaber originated. Whatever the lightsaber is, it is a "X" that is focussed through crystals, uses very little if any power if the blade is not used in combat, behaves as a solid with immense heat on contact but no radiation. That is what the fiction of the movies have created. Books and games have added on to it but regarless of what lore you use, if you want to explain fiction, you got to respect the lore.

It don't matter how you could create something LIKE a lightsaber, unless you replicate that, it is not a lightsaber.

This kid basically thinks Falco the Dragon is an open plane, sure you can sit on an open plane and fly but that is not what Falco is.

When a kid fails comprehensive reading of a trashy "sci-fi" story, you know a career flipping burgers is just going to be a dream forever as he sweaps out astrays at restaurants... oh wait, you can't smoke in restaurants any more? Oh well, so much for this kids future.

Re:Why did this get posted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403886)

Exactly what I was going to post except more reasonable. My subject would have been "Why is this shit on Slashdot?"

Load of pointless wank written by some immature little prick who anyone would love to headbutt.

WTF? (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 3 years ago | (#36402946)

How much was samzenpus paid to put this piece of crap blogspam on the front page?

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403388)

He gets paid by how many people read it. thanks for contributing

hot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36402958)

And the handle becomes unfathomably hot. Nice one.

Re:hot (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403438)

What if the telescoping core and handle are separated by a layer of ceramic insulation?

What if the handle was also actively cooled?

Off fuck (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403006)

Rearrange title to make a well known phrase or saying.

Re:Off fuck (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403414)

Yoda, you is that?

Um... What's a... (3, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403016)

What's a GRE and why would passing one allow you to know hypothetical problems with Star Wars tech. I passed a truck full of pigs on the 401 and the only thing I learned is "stay upwind of the pig trucks"

Insults the reader, full of inaccuracies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403020)

This is pure flamebait, the trolls are going to have a field day.

Look, Kid, you might think cloning other people's words and then mocking scientists who have given substantial evidence with your moronish prose is gonna get YOU laid; but unfortunately you're more than mistaken. You are bluntly wrong. Get some math together, and *PROVE* it. Words in Physics are merely for explaining, math is proof.

Re:Insults the reader, full of inaccuracies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403224)

Delete it off the front page, this is embarrassing for /.

This could single-handedly (aside from all the bullshit Bitcoin adverts) drive away 25%+ of the readers. Good job.

Copied solution or not? (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403026)

I'd like to say this was copied from the TV series in which Dr. Michio Kaku presented the exact same "solutions" to those two lightsaber problems (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSNubaa7n9o), but in the same series he also discusses a time travel machine, so who know; he may have copied the ideas from this kid.

In before Jedi (1)

SeakingFUKyea (1980200) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403030)

LOL FICTION!

Noise (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403032)

He hasn't solved the most difficult problem, though: the noise. Normally, a light saber like that would be completely silent. How do you let it make those whooshing sounds?

Re:Noise (2)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403258)

He hasn't solved the most difficult problem, though: the noise. Normally, a light saber like that would be completely silent. How do you let it make those whooshing sounds?

The same way you did with a stick when you were a kid. Make "Vruu Vruu" noises while swinging it. ;-)

Re:Noise (1)

Alioth (221270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403338)

A speaker and a small 8 bit microcontroller-based sound generator in the handle, and a couple of accelerometers to detect it being waved around.

Re:Noise (2)

michelcolman (1208008) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403444)

I bet there's an app for that already :-)

Re:Noise (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403496)

Anything with a big 'ol vibrating transformer in it will make a similar noise. My dad has a power conditioner on his computer that makes a similar noise if you pick it up and swing it around.

Re:Noise (1)

savi (142689) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403704)

Yes, but if we have to account for lightsaber sounds, then we have to account for noise and fiery explosions in space.

Impossible (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403074)

"The collapsible rod extends out of the handle of the lightsaber when activated, much like a high-tech version of a toy lightsaber with a flickable blade. The plasma and magnetic field are energized immediately when powered up"

For the rod to be able to fit inside the handle it would firstly have to be of very, very thin material, otherwise it would simply not fit in there. Secondly, there's not that many ways of making something that could expand and retract in such a limit space without making it very fragile. Combine that with the aforementioned fragile material and these things wouldn't be able to even sustain their own weight; fighting with those would be completely out of the question.

Now, about the magnetic fields: to be able to contain plasma without it leaking these things would have to sport very, very powerful magnetic fields. Even assuming they had the tech to generate powerful enough magnetic field in such a small space how would they limit its range? They would somehow have to be able to generate two magnetic fields in order to protect the rod from the plasma, and to prevent the plasma from espacing, and they'd have to be able to also limit how wide the fields are at the same time. That's again out of the question.

But then again, none of it is real anyways so arguing about it is as pointless as two anonymous people yelling death threats to eachothers on the Internets.

Re:Impossible (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403220)

It uses Galifreyan technology.

Re:Impossible (1)

The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403440)

"The collapsible rod extends out of the handle of the lightsaber when activated, much like a high-tech version of a toy lightsaber with a flickable blade. The plasma and magnetic field are energized immediately when powered up"

For the rod to be able to fit inside the handle it would firstly have to be of very, very thin material, otherwise it would simply not fit in there. Secondly, there's not that many ways of making something that could expand and retract in such a limit space without making it very fragile. Combine that with the aforementioned fragile material and these things wouldn't be able to even sustain their own weight; fighting with those would be completely out of the question.

I was thinking the same thing and imagining them collapsing and folding over in the same way wrapping paper tubes do when my daughter uses them as lightsabers.

Of course who knows what magical materials there must be in that galaxy from a long time ago and far far away. Judging by the size of the windows in their ships and how they can get to orbit an maneuver around in space w/o refueling they've obviously invented some pretty impressive tech.

Re:Impossible (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403556)

For the rod to be able to fit inside the handle it would firstly have to be of very, very thin material, otherwise it would simply not fit in there. Secondly, there's not that many ways of making something that could expand and retract in such a limit space without making it very fragile. Combine that with the aforementioned fragile material and these things wouldn't be able to even sustain their own weight; fighting with those would be completely out of the question.

I don't see this as an issue. Right now you could build a 5-foot telescoping titanium baton that could retract into something the size of a large flashlight and would be strong enough to swordfight with. Consider that people used to have real, no-shit life-or-death swordfights with rapiers. Those aren't beefy swords.

Metal rod? (1)

teslafreak (684543) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403086)

They are shown in several instances to cut metal, what metal is the core made from? Also, if it were bare metal striking bare metal, why does it spark so much on a simple non-sliding hit? If the core is telescoping metal with a sufficient rigidity to take hard strikes, you would figure the nesting pieces would make a saber with a "blade" much thicker near the base, and thinner near the top. Why is it not so?

Re:Metal rod? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403566)

Titanium with an outer coating of fire steel. Next question? :-P

From Discovery channel, 2009 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403088)

http://science.discovery.com/videos/sci-fi-science-designing-a-light-sabre.html

Its the force... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403120)

Oh come on the answer is trivial - its the force that makes these things work. Every Jedi knows that.

Already Suggested (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403126)

Michio Kaku suggested this very same thing in his book "Physics of the Impossible". You fail.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michio_Kaku

Not sure how this made the news (1)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403132)

but it was a funny read. And, if you had billions of dollars, maybe you could pull off a prototype that would have no real world functionality. Besides maybe a mexican jedi fiesta with jaba the hut pinata's.

Old idea, doesn't work. (5, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403144)

I don't remember where I've heard this before, but I've definitely heard it. But there are some very large problems you haven't solved.

First, this is still going to require a large amount of energy. Where does that come from? And if you've got something superheated into a plasma, how do you keep the metal from melting?

Second, as others have pointed out, you haven't actually solved the magnetic-field problem. Basically, any Jedi could have his lightsaber entirely disabled, or even turned back on him, by inducing a magnetic field on the room he's in.

Third, it doesn't explain the part where lightsabers are incredibly difficult to wield, due to weird gyroscopic effects, such that only someone with force-sensitive reflexes should be able to wield them properly. Ok, Han Solo can cut open a tauntaun, but that's a pretty crude motion -- try to swing it around, and if you're not careful, you could end up cutting yourself as easily as your opponent.

Fourth (!), what are blaster bolts, and how does a lightsaber deflect them? It makes very little sense to suppose that a blaster bolt is just some plasma wrapped around a tube in the same way -- that seems awfully complicated compared to alternatives like just firing the plasma as a projectile -- and then, why would they bounce off force fields the way they do, as if they were somehow slowly-moving laser light?

Finally, how do you explain the phenomena in Episode 1... Alright, maybe you want to pretend that didn't exist, but this phenomena is fairly commonly observed and generally accepted as something that it'd be reasonable for a lightsaber to do. Anyway, what about the point where Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are trying to break into a room by slowly melting the blast door with their lightsabers? I suppose the metal rod could be collapsing, but then I'd expect that when you pull it out, it'll have to slowly extend again -- and it also suggests that lightsabers would collapse entirely too easily. If they're made of light, this makes much more sense, but then we have all the same problems as light.

So, cool idea, but let's just accept that Star Wars is science fantasy. It's enjoyable science fantasy, and there's no shame in wanting to be a jedi, but you'll never have a lightsaber. (Also, there's no Santa. Sorry.)

Re:Old idea, doesn't work. (1)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403752)

fourth is obvious, a the magnetic rod in the middle would deflect plasma (and it would have to be magnetic to keep form getting eaten by the plasma). Even you solved your objection after that.

Re:Old idea, doesn't work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403762)

i will file your post as a hate crime against my very old religion

"Articles" from HS students? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403160)

WTF, there are two 14 year old kids and this "article" that's complete garbage - it's not even an attempt with high school science.

Geeze!

Smarter than Neil deGrasse Tyson? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403170)

As is often the case, Iâ(TM)m about to prove Dr. Tyson to be a gas-headed nitwit.

Yeah, that's what you did.

lightsaber in my pants (2)

slashpot (11017) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403176)

I have a lightsaber in my pants.

Incredible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403356)

It is nothing short of astounding how many of you idiots apparently think this guy is being serious.

The first problem in making a Lightsabre (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403428)

Is getting enough energy in a handheld device.to power it for more than a microsecond.

(Dr Kaku's explantion for that was "nano-batteries" )

Re:The first problem in making a Lightsabre (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403462)

Fission, fusion, or antimatter. Take your pick!

Re:The first problem in making a Lightsabre (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403650)

Has a lightsaber ever been totally destroyed on screen? I remember at least one being cut in half or disabled and even that would be terrifying if the power source were anti-matter. Remember, any containment failure will result in all that energy, enough to melt through a meter thick blast door in Ep 1 without concern, being released instantly.

sigh, per Lucas (2.0): (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403802)

The JEDI (SITH) use their MIDOCHLORANS to channel ENERGY from a PARALLEL universe. The light SABER device is a CONDUIT, not a ENERGY storage MEDIUM.

UN-altered REPRODUCTION and DISSEMINATION of this IMPORTANT Information is ENCOURAGED, ESPECIALLY to COMPUTER BULLETIN BOARDS.

Re:The first problem in making a Lightsabre (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403628)

Dylithium crystals you idiots...

why don't they crack/break? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403466)

you say that the metal rods can come into contact with each other. so shouldn't they be able to dent/crack/break each other if swung with enough force? (no pun intended)

Bah, everyone knows they are made of.. (2)

shadowrat (1069614) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403574)

midichlorian waste. when yoda says, "luminous beings are we" he's describing how someone is full of glowing damaging midichlorian poop. a lightsaber draws this toxic waste out of a jedi's body like tanuki foot pads, stores it, and focuses it as a weapon. midichlorian poop behaves EXACTLY like a light saber. Problem solved. It's how it works.

btw: do you feel tired? do you not have as much energy as you want? As someone with innate jedi abilities, you really need to take special care of yourself. You are probably full of toxic midichlorian waste. I suggest buying my magnetic rare earth bracelets. may the force be with you.

Re:Bah, everyone knows they are made of.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403900)

I hear that Dr. Bob,DC can help with this.

Actually, someone solved it before you did ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403582)

A professor at Old Dominion University, specializing in Plasma Medicine already beat you to the punch (by about 5 yrs).

http://www.ece.odu.edu/~mlarouss/plasmaMedicine.html

However, the telescoping metal rod is an interesting concept.

Mistaken (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403638)

For a while I though that Starwars was a work of fiction; as in, made up.

My mistake

As a Brit (1)

rasherbuyer (225625) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403642)

Well I wasted 30 seconds of my life by RTFA and the first inaccuracy that struck me:

We don't actually have anything we would call a flashlight.

What Americans call a flashlight we call a torch...

Re:As a Brit (1)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403776)

WHOOSH

Not original (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403712)

I'm sorry, but any one of my 8th grade friends came up with a similar solution at one point or another...
"Oh gee, there's something solid in the middle containing the laser/plasma/whatever"
Not impressed.

I didn't realise .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403738)

I didn't realise that one actually 'passed' the GRE. In my remote past, I took the GRE and scored about 650 avg., but it wasn't a pass/fail test. There is no question that a low score might get you excluded from the graduate program that you want, but it's not really failing the GRE.

My droid is not a phone (1)

Drunkulus (920976) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403740)

Interesting theories. Please find enclosed my subscription to your newsletter. However, a competing notion asserts that the very name of the lightsaber refers not to its brightness, but to its weight. According to wookiepedia: "Due to the weightlessness of plasma and the strong gyroscopic effect generated by it, lightsabers required a great deal of strength and dexterity to wield..."

You don't pass the GRE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403750)

You get a score. That's all.

Waste of time link too.

Well that's not how our work. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403826)

lightsaber

The lightsaber works by extending a 'Quantum Probability Field' vertically up from a small metal disk. The 'Quantum Probability Field' appears to be a long pole, but in reality it is shaped like an extremely narrow, vertically elongated and oblate 'normal distribution curve'.

At the quantum level matter is constantly blipping into and out of existence. Where and when matter 'chooses' to do this is subject to quantum probability. What the 'Quantum Probability Field' does is to create an area of space vertically above the base-disk in-which the probability of matter blipping into existence reaches almost 1.

Bending probability in this way causes an imbalance that the laws of physics must rectify. This rectification happens at the very edge of the 'Quantum Probability Field'. What we find here is a 'probability trough' - a region of space in-which the probability of matter existing is very close to zero.

So to summarise how the lightsaber produces a blade, it simply generates the 'Quantum Probability Field' which cause matter to exist in the area of space that extends in a long thin beam from the sabre stem. The matter is brought into existence by bending the laws of probability in that region of space. That matter that is brought into existence naturally expands as its introduction into reality causes pressure inside the field. The expanding matter then falls into the probability trough at the edge of the field and promptly winks out of existence.

The lightsaber blade carries no momentum and is virtually weightless. The matter it causes to bring into existence does have weight, however as the blade is moved, the matter itself does not move. It simply winks out of existence in one place and new matter is winked into existence to replace it further along the blade's path.

The matter that the 'Quantum Probability Field' brings into existence is not what cause the blade to cut normal matter. The actual cutting edge of the lightsaber is the 'probability trough' that winks matter out of existence.

So when the blade edge (the probability trough) cuts normal matter it winks it out of existence. This 'missing' matter is then probabilistically available to be winked into existence inside the 'Quantum Probability Field' and thus form the blade itself.

So one way of looking at it is that the lightsaber cuts by winking the matter that it is cutting out of existence at the very edge of its generated 'Quantum Probability Field' and using that matter to then form the blade itself.

In truth, it is not really using the *same* matter. But when matter is taken out of the universe, the universe pumps more matter in to replace it. The 'Quantum Probability Field' simply bends probability space in order make sure that matter is created in the right place (in the shape of a blade).

Why does the lightsaber glow?

Well the matter that is brought into existence is highly energised plasma. Even though the probability trough winks that plasma out of existence as soon as it leaves the blade, some visible light does manage to escape. The probability trough simply reduced the likely hood of matter existing to virtually zero, but not absolutely zero.

The frequency of the energy that 'bleeds through' the probability trough is adjustable by frequency. This is how we manage to get different coloured lightsaber blades.

Although a magnetic field could disturb the generated (created) plasma, such a disturbance would have no effect on the blade itself. Remember the blade is actually just the field. So if a magnet were to push the plasma out of that field then that plasma would simply be winked out of existence by the quantum probability trough and thus instantly replaced by newly created plasma back inside the blade.

Then there is the matter of why a lightsaber blade will stop another lightsaber blade. Well, at close proximity, the quantum probability fields strongly repel one another. The repulsion between two fields is barely measurable at a distance of about one centimetre but quickly rises to virtually infinite on contact.

Never used a blowtorch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403836)

This geeks has never used a blowtorch, if he had, he would know that plasma such as that also emits light in the UV range and would give the user sunburns.

Then there's the obvious issue of heating up the handle.

And for the Nobel Prize: how do you shape the magnetic field correctly without using SW physics?

fencing (3, Interesting)

snookerhog (1835110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36403844)

I once had a discussion about light sabers with a Olympic fencing gold medalist. His job was sword fighting and his main gripe with light sabers (which was not addressed in this article) was that since the blade is made of light, it has no weight and thus the speed of your strikes is not limited by the blade in any way, only by how fast you can manipulate the handle. In his opinion (and mine) this would make saber duels quite short indeed.

Re:fencing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403940)

Well, in my initial reading of the (albeit inane) article he did quite clearly address that. He addressed it by simply getting rid of the notion that the blade is made of light. Once you do that, the rest of your argument goes away.

All wrong. A lightsaber is really.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403898)

... a fantasy created by a guy who went to film school, and who never had a single class in physics or engineering!

sasdf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36403924)

Another individual that thinks all the science we can ever know has been discovered. I'm not saying Lightsabers are possible or practical, but he based his entire write up on very simple physics and doesn't bother to even theorize.

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