Can we build a lightsabre?

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Offline thedoc

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Can we build a lightsabre?
« on: 23/11/2011 12:54:32 »
I've been wanting to ask this one for a looong time... My sons (Lucas and Tristan) are Star Wars fans, and asked me if it was possible to make a real lightsaber. I said no, of course, but when they asked me WHY NOT?... I couldn't give them a thorough scientific explanation. Please help, Naked Scientists!
Asked by Harman Hoetink via Facebook


                                        Visit the webpage for the podcast in which this question is answered.

[chapter podcast=3746 track=11.11.20/Naked_Scientists_Show_11.11.20_9343.mp3]  ...or Listen to the Answer[/chapter] or [download as MP3]

« Last Edit: 14/08/2012 09:40:57 by chris »

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Offline thedoc

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Can we build a lightsaber?
« Reply #1 on: 23/11/2011 12:54:32 »
We answered this question on the show...



Dave -  Depends exactly what you mean by lightsaber.  Producing a kind of beam of light which is coming out of an object which is incredibly powerful and can cut through things, that's not impossible.  But we certainly couldn’t get anything nearly as powerful as that.  We can’t get laser that powerful in anything like that size of container, but we can get lasers which will cut through things within the size of a house, but we’ll ignore the size issue at the moment.  But the problem is making light suddenly stop at the end of the sort of 2-foot length, unless you put a mirror there it just wouldn't and also, light doesn’t interact with other light,  so you can't have sword fights with them.  They would just go straight through each other and not affect each other. 
You might conceivably be able to make a plasma sabre so you could somehow constrain some very, very hot plasma into a tube magnetically or something conceivably.  I think it would be difficult but just about possible, but certainly not with light.
« Last Edit: 23/11/2011 12:54:32 by _system »

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Offline techmind

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Can we build a lightsaber?
« Reply #2 on: 03/12/2011 22:04:43 »
Not a real light sabre, but very cool technology nevertheless:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6q29sPj8BI
(invented in Scotland!)
"It has been said that the primary function of schools is to impart enough facts to make children stop asking questions. Some, with whom the schools do not succeed, become scientists." - Schmidt-Nielsen "Memoirs of a curious scientist"

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Offline Geezer

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Can we build a lightsaber?
« Reply #3 on: 03/12/2011 22:39:57 »
Not a real light sabre, but very cool technology nevertheless:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6q29sPj8BI
(invented in Scotland!)

That's quite clever!
There ain'ta no sanity clause, and there ain'ta no centrifugal force æther.

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Offline imatfaal

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Can we build a lightsaber?
« Reply #4 on: 03/12/2011 22:45:37 »
What soulless bureaucrat stopped them putting on (or removed afterwards) the voom voom sound - or was my playback just screwed
There’s no sense in being precise when you don’t even know what you’re talking about.  John Von Neumann

At the surface, we may appear as intellects, helpful people, friendly staff or protectors of the interwebs. Deep down inside, we're all trolls. CaptainPanic @ sf.n