Light Sabers No Longer Nerd Fiction, Harvard and MIT Just Made a Real One


We’re all getting light sabers for Christmas! Okay, maybe that’s a jump, but some folks at the Harvard-MIT Center for Ultracold Atoms created a new form of matter that can used to create a light saber.

In order to make this nerd wet dream a reality and bring a working light saber to light, scientists brought two photons together to form a “photonic molecule” that acts as if it has mass, yet keeps the properties of light. In case you misplaced your old notes from high school biology class, photons don’t interact with each other and have no mass. This is how two beams of light pass through each other. In order to give mass to this photonic molecule the scientists used a process called “laser cooling” that reduces a cloud of rubidium atoms to almost absolute zero (0 degrees Kelvin). Following the cooling process two photons were passed through this cooled atom cloud and like science magic, the photons interact with each other giving light mass. Build upon that and you’ve got a light saber.

Before you go digging up your childhood Darth Vader mask you should know the actuality of getting a bad-ass Star Wars-esqe light saber anytime soon is slim. Primarily, because containing those photonic molecules in a beam that comes out of some handheld device is a bit tricky. And even then you could probably knock things over with it, but your kid brother’s arm is safe from being sliced off.

Now that light saber technology can be checked off the list, when are we getting hoverboards?


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