physics question-light sabers(?)

A friend at work brought up the subject of the latest edition to the Star Wars saga and the interesting special effects involved. I’m sure this question has been asked before but how feasible, or practical, the developement of a light saber would be. Is it possible to create one, and exactly what does a light saber consist of, either in the movie or for all intents and purposes what it would take to manufacture one in the real world?:slight_smile:

Since the light seems to act as a solid during battle, I don’t think they are reproducible using our knowledge of physics.

For everything else you ever wanted to know about lightsabres (and a whole lot you didn’t know you wanted to know), check this out.

Jeanne Cavelos, author of The Science of Star Wars speculates that light sabres may be cylinders of plasma confined by electric fields, magnetic fields, and magnetic mirrors. Either that, or it’s just fiction.

It has been estimated, Cavelos says, that a plasma with such properties would have to be 10 million times denser than any that has been created in the laboratory, at a temperature of 200 million degrees. That’s hot enough to vaporize anyone who tried to use one.

Interesting essay [url=“”]here[/ur]. Probably the most intelligent point made:

He does finally propose seven different models for the operation of a lightsaber, about 50,000 words later. Page down to ‘MODEL SIX: virtual light produced from a spinning field surface’ to see his (and my) favorite model.

After that, compare the time you wasted reading it to the time he wasted researching and writing it; it’ll really put the hours of your life you’ve wasted into perspective. :slight_smile:

As I remarked in a thread a few months back, the closest thing n pre-Star wars science fiction to the ight Sabre is the variable sword from Larry Niven’s Known Space" stories. A Variable Sword is a thin wire encased in a stasis field. It’s therefore not really a “light abre”, but would probably look and act a lot like one.

After reading that link, why do I get the feeling that in a few years we’ll be seeing Mark Hamill on SNL in a sketch eeriely similar to Shatner’s infamous “Get a life!” sketch?

Something similar already happened on an episode of the Simpsons, the one where Homer becomes a bodyguard for Mayor Quimby. Mark Hamill guest starred as himself.

I always wondered how Jedi practiced enough to become proficient in use without cutting off a leg or other appendage by mistake during a practice.

You know, like how shop teachers are missing fingers.

I was going to mention Niven’s “variable sword” myself. If it didn’t glow for some reason already, I should think you would want the microscopic filament to light up so that you would know where the damn thing was, and avoid chopping off your own appendages with it.

IIRC, Niven postulated the “variable” to mean that you could extend the filament from the thing out to some absurd length like 50 meters if you wanted to, though they were more typically used at sword lengths for manageability. In Star Wars terms, just THINK about somebody wielding a 50 meter light sabre.

In fact, think about turning off the stasis field that holds the filament rigid, and using it as a whip that will slice through practically anything. You’d better be DAMNED proficient.

Of course, I find it fascinating when people postulate these exotic, high tech weapons that leave their users vulnerable to an ordinary handgun, because of the simple matter of range. In the first SW, I sort of agreed with Han Solo - stick to a blaster.

That’s probably why only Jedi use light sabers in Star Wars - only they have the training and Force sensitivity to use the saber to block blaster shots.

I suspect you could also use a lightsaber to block a bullet, although it would be harder to see it coming.

I think William Gibson used a weapon that was just a weight on a very thin unbreakable wire in one of his novels.

My faviorite theory is the plasma-in-a-field theory. It is obvious when watching the films that the science of fields is an ancient one in the Star Wars Universe… Hover Fields, tractor beams, “shields” are so common that even primitives like the gungans have them.

I imagine that the manipulation of fields is so old hat to the denizens of the Star Wars universe that sometning as simple as a containment field full of high energy plasma would be considered “quaint”.

I about threw up when, in Phantom Menace, Anikin refers to Qui GOn’s Saber as a “Laser Sword” Gah.

But then, there was a lot about PM that made me ill…

I haven’t read the paper referenced above, but I’ve always been partial to explaining the saber blade as a force field. Since various forms of energy barriers (energy shields, particle shields, magnetic fields, etc.) exist in the Star Wars continuum, this is the easiest explanation. There’s some support for this theory in Timothy Zahn’s books and elsewhere.

Just so you all know, Attack of the Clones was absolutely wonderful. Get on line now, because you will love it.

From reading the novel, Shadow of the Empire, Luke makes his second lightsaber, after he loses the first (along with his hand), in his duel with Vader. From what I understand, it included a power cell, and gemstones.

Thank you everyone for your input and thoughts. I have relayed the answers to my co-worker and he too is grateful.