Home Made Lightsaber?

Photons of light binding together to form molecules? Unusual research by Harvard Professor of Physics Mikhail Lukin and MIT Professor of Physics Vladan Vuletic has led to the realization of a state of matter that was (until a few weeks ago) purely theoretical. Or should we say, "science-fictional"?

(Luke practices with the lightsaber and a seeker remote)

The discovery, Lukin said, runs contrary to decades of accepted wisdom about the nature of light. Photons have long been described as massless particles which don't interact with each other shine two laser beams at each other, he said, and they simply pass through one another.

"Photonic molecules," however, behave less like traditional lasers and more like something you might find in science fiction the lightsaber.

"Most of the properties of light we know about originate from the fact that photons are massless, and that they do not interact with each other," Lukin said. "What we have done is create a special type of medium in which photons interact with each other so strongly that they begin to act as though they have mass, and they bind together to form molecules. This type of photonic bound state has been discussed theoretically for quite a while, but until now it hadn't been observed.

Here's how George Lucas describes a lightsaber in his 1976 novel Star Wars:

It consisted primarily of a short, thick handgrip with a couple of small switches set into the grip. Above this small post was a circular metal disk barely larger in diameter than his spread palm. A number of unfamiliar, jewel like components were built into both handle and disk, including what looked like the smallest power cell Luke had ever seen...

Luke examined the controls on the handle, then tentatively touched a brightly colored button up near the mirrored pommel. Instantly the disk put forth a blue-white beam as thick around as his thumb. It was dense to the point of opacity and a little over a meter in length... Strangely, Luke felt no heat from it... He knew what a lightsaber could do, though he had never seen one before. It could drill a hole right through the rock wall of Kenobi's cave - or through a human being.

Update: Technovelgy reader icecycle has pointed out that sf legend John W. Campbell wrote about the idea of "solid light" long before George Lucas. The earliest reference I know is in Campbell's 1930 novel The Black Star Passes - see the article on lux. End update.

Via Physorg (paper in Nature); thanks to an anonymous reader for alerting me to this story (a few days ago - sorry, I'm a bit behind).

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 9/26/2013)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 2 )

Related News Stories - (" Material ")

Russia's Protective Ferrite Fabric
'His suit-shield sucked in the energy and discharged it...'- Philip K. Dick, 1954.

Carbyne, The Ultimate Form Of Carbon
'A continuous pseudo-one dimensional diamond crystal...'- Arthur C. Clarke, 1978.

Liquid Metal Terminator Development Hums Right Along
More research is needed - check!

Breathable Carbon Nanotube Membrane For 'Smart Uniforms'
'The 'skin's got these reflexes, changes its permeability...' - Peter Watts, 1999.


  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.






Current News

'North Sense' Wearable Piercing From Cyborg Nest
'The fingers opened from the many-scaled stellarimeter grafted onto his palm.'

proCover Smart Sock Prosthetic Limb Enhancement
'Series of chemelectric afferent nerve-analogues, which permitted it to gauge to an ounce...'

Robots And AIs Will Replace Humans At 7 Percent Of U.S. Jobs
'And Mike took on endless new jobs.'

Human Doctors Still Better Than Computers
'Nowadays surgery was normally done by autodocs...'

FEDOR Humanoid Robot To Join Russians In Space
Am enjoying view of Russian robot.

BMW Self-Balancing Motorcycle - Never Put Feet On Road
'He had never ridden any motorized device that lacked onboard steering and balance systems...'

MicroTug Is A Micro Robot Beast
'And it had been dragging something...'

Linear Elastic Actuator in Parallel (LEAP) - It's A Hopping Robot
'...Probably the most grotesque forms of transportation ever invented.'

Smart Glove Controls 3D Printed Robotic Arm (Waldo!)
'Waldo flexed and extended his fingers gently; the... waldoes... followed in exact, simultaneous parallelism.'

Wearables For Animals Totally A Thing
'Twin deformities on either side of his skull had been engineered to house sensor units.'

Tomatoes From Sun And Seawater
'Hydroponics. Gotta almost do it, if I'm going way out to Mars without much supplies.'

Hadrian X Construction Robot From Fastbrick Robotics
Hope Hadrian is never a runaway!

Confirm 100 Exoplanets At Once! (With Video)
'My automatic astronomical instruments searching for a habitable planet.'

Blue Origin Tests 'Escape Pod' Capability
'I'm going to regret this...'

3D Printed Car Can Launch POV Drone
Just the thing for the Runaway squad - and you and me.

Japanese AI Forms Suicidally Depressed Personality
'I think you ought to know I'm feeling very depressed.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.