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 ")

Metal Composite Floats Your Boat
'A metal that was apparently as light as cork and stronger than steel...' - Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1929.

LiquiGlide Will Be Everywhere
'They poured the remnants of eggs out of their frictionless cups...'- Larry Niven, 1973.

Synthetic 'Squid Skin' For Camouflage On The Way
'The small, chameleon-clad figures continued to advance.'- Gordon R. Dickson, 1960.

Shape-Shifting Carbon Fiber
'Its lines wavered, flowed, and then painfully reformed.'- Philip K. Dick, 1957.

 

Google
  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

Self-Driving Truck Corridor From Manitoba To Mexico?
Maybe this would be safer...

Electronic Tongue Knows Beer Better Than You
'Install taste buds in the end of one tentacle.'

NASA's Robotic Mining Competition
''Dave,'[Powell] said. 'You're a stable, rock-bottom mining robot...'

Should Humanity Switch To Robotic Pets?
'What about an exact electric duplicate of your cat?'

L'Oreal To 3D Print Human Skin
'...She helped the doctor spray on surrogate skin.'

LG Display Creates OLED Wallpaper
'A television that unrolled like a poster...'

Cool Foldable Mini-Quadcopter
'Eddie pocketed the bee cam...'

NASA's Subvocal Speech System
'She took a subvocal input device from its rack...'

Cicada UAV Dropped In Swarms
'We... dropped roughly a thousand eyes on Beta Hydri IV.'

AI's Now Being Taught Anger
Actually the Prime Radiant was just a display device.

Cicret Interactive Skin Display Prototype
'A strip of readout skin on my wrist...'

Lily Camera Video Sport Selfie Drone
'He set his camera to follow him, and it hovered behind him like a large tame bee.'

Metal Composite Floats Your Boat
'A metal that was apparently as light as cork and stronger than steel...'

Six Terabyte Solid State Drive Just 2.5 Inches
'A man or woman could carry AIs or complete planetary dataspheres...'

Israeli 'Food Replicator' Inspired By Star Trek
What flavor would you like?

Robotic Trash Can Wants Your Garbage
'The can pivoted on broad rubber treads and rolled toward her...'

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.