As everyone who’s ever passed the GRE knows, there are two major hypothetical operational problems with Star Wars lightsabers. More accurately I should say there were two problems, because I solved both of them while trying to fall asleep last night, shortly after mentally ranking the breasts of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Despite the pseudo-science Lucas droppings passed off as technological explanation in the speciously named “official” Star Wars databank, most scientists agree that lightsabers just wouldn’t work. Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson recently summarized their two flaws thusly:
- If lightsaber blades are actually light, they would harmlessly pass through each other like the beams of flashlights (or as the Brits call them, “floushlightes”).
- If the blades are instead some kind of plasma controlled by magnetic fields, they could be interfered with by any magnet, even this one. Also, the plasma blades would damage each other.
As is often the case, I’m about to prove Dr. Tyson to be a gas-headed nitwit. Because this is how lightsabers really work:
A lightsaber is actually a hollow metal rod that extrudes plasma through microscopic pores along its length and also keeps the plasma in check with a magnetic field. The collapsible rod extends out of the handle of the lightsaber when activated, much like a high-tech version of a toy lightsaber with a flickable blade. The plasma and magnetic field are energized immediately when powered up, giving the illusion of a beam of light rising from the handle.
The plasma easily slices through anything, even virtually indestructible tauntaun belly skin. Or rather, it slices through anything not protected by a magnetic field. When two lightsaber blades touch, their magnetic fields interfere with each other, forcing the plasma away at the point of contact. So actually the bare metal rods collide with each other. But because the plasma stays in place everywhere but the actual point of contact, this is all invisible.
What’s more is that the lightsaber’s designer (commonly thought to be a Jedi, but actually Jingil P’rdeam, a speeder mechanic currently in self-imposed exile on the jungle planet of Mimban after an ugly civil divorce from Watto) are aware of this quirk in functionality, and they’ve exploited it and enhanced it to allow one lightsaber to serve as a defense against another.
So there you have it. Scientists of the world, feel free to use this information to go forth and make your dreams a reality. It still won’t help you get laid, pencilnecks!
Photo © Matthew Beckler