On a lighter note, Ariel Williams contemplates how we would go about making a light sabre. He starts out by theorising on how it might work.
The first thing you need to know is the beam is not actually made out of light. The name is a misnomer like how “tin foil” is made of aluminum, not tin, shooting stars which are not stars or “pencil lead” which does not contain lead. The most common and consistent description is that the lightsaber creates a powerful arc of plasma and then via magnetic fields and the focusing crystal that arc is pushed out into a very long thin arc. The beam is pushed out from the center and then corralled into a straight edge with some kind of magnetic field confinement.
And if that’s the case, he suggests we might base it on a device like the plasma arc cutter or welder already uses similar technology and even looks a bit like the Jedi weapon.
Unfortunately this is where the similarities end…This tiny yet very hot arc ignites a gas that is continually pumped through the nozzle and the gas carries away the heat produced in a “beam” that acts as the working medium of this tool.
He suggests thinking in a different direction and use a few strands of carbon nanotube wire.
These are then pulsed with electromagnetic field vibrations and/or plasma to give them some extra cutting power. This would effectively create a type of “energy vibro-sword” but without a solid backing behind the length of it you would get a whip and not a blade.
Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.
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