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back to article Boffins have constructed a new LIGHT SABRE. Their skills are complete

Top boffins in the US say they have managed to make light behave in the same way as solid matter – and they've saved us the trouble by suggesting that this is pretty much the same as building a working Jedi light sabre. "It's not an inapt analogy to compare this to light sabers," boasts Harvard physics prof Mikhail Lukin, one of …

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FAIL

Use The Force, Lukin

Seriously - no Star Wars reference to the guy's surname in the title / subtitle / article?

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Re: Use The Force, Lukin

Funny you should mention star wars...

While this probably isn't light saber tech... it could be used for true 3D vids and modeling.

Would it fit the definition of holographic display?

But you get the idea.

The star wars reference... 'help me Obi Wan...'

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Re: Use The Force, Lukin

These aren't the droids you're Lukin for.

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Re: Use The Force, Lukin

Now you mention it, this does sound like the foundational technology Holodecks in Star Trek, it would be a bit chilly in their through.

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If I was making a press release like this

I would make damn sure I released it on April 1st - just to fuck with everyone who dismissed it as a joke.

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Unhappy

Re: If I was making a press release like this

"I would make damn sure I released it on April 1st - just to fuck with everyone who dismissed it as a joke."

No can do.

This academia.

Publish or perish.

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Re: If I was making a press release like this

Nah. I'd have released it on May 3rd. Then I could sign off with "May the fourth be with you"

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Anonymous Coward

No "Lukin, I am your father" reference? Disappointed.

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"Lukin, I am your fatherin," surely?

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So all one needs.......

Is a good pair of insulated oven gloves and your good to go save the Universe

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Headmaster

Re: So all one needs.......

but, I haven't got a "good to go save the universe".

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but, I haven't got a "good to go save the universe".

You can knock one up out of an apostrophe and the letter 'E'.....

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Jedi and force stuff side, what an interesting development. Wonder what kind of application photon matter would have or even if it is feasible for general use

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title. what title

Hard-light holography. What do you think Mr Rimmer?

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Boffin

" Wonder what kind of application photon matter would have"

Read the link might be an idea?

But the TL:DR answer is :

"Particular applications of this technique include all-optical switching, deterministic photonic quantum logic and the generation of strongly correlated states of light9."

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Re: " Wonder what kind of application photon matter would have"

"Read the link might be an idea?"

That's not really fair to say to someone when the article is behind a paywall, now is it? OK, so in this case an example did happen to be in the abstract, but still not everyone has a subscription to every journal. Of course, the authors could have gone open access, as we all should these days.

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Re: " Wonder what kind of application photon matter would have"

I wonder how much support the Harvard-MIT Center for Ultracold Atoms receives from the US government.

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Duh

Photon torpedoes, of course. Oh wait, that's Star Trek. Wrong universe, my bad.

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"Wonder what kind of application photon matter would have or even if it is feasible for general use"

How about a holodeck?

Light sabre.

Hard light bridge.

Hard light windows.

Maybe a more energy efficient deflector, more efficient than a plasma window?

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Re: " Wonder what kind of application photon matter would have"

"I wonder how much support the Harvard-MIT Center for Ultracold Atoms receives from the US government."

If the research was US Government funded and not classified, it'd not be behind a pay wall. It would be openly available for all to read.

Forget what law that was that required that one.

For classified stuff, all bets are off, save that it wouldn't end up published for a generation or so.

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Solidified light... Hmmm, shields, physically interactive hologram, (EMH anyone?)

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Re: Hard-light hologram

Puncture repair kit on standby Mr Rimmer sir.

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Anonymous Coward

Personally I've always considered light sabres to be magnetically confined plasma. Makes much more sense; "explains" how they cut, "explains" how they can't go through each other, "explains" the noise, etc.

I'll get me coat.

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Exactly

In uni we worked out that the "Light" and the crystal were probably a laser which supplied the energy to create the plasma and keep it hot.

The trigger activates the magnetic bottle, releases enough matter to become plasma which is then excited by the laser, electrons are diverted to one end of the bottle and possibly allowed to escape, where they interact with the atmosphere (creating the hiss-crackle as the blade is extended). The energy and mass lost when the blade interacts with the environment is why the laser has to be kept on and the blade continues to crackle as it's used.

Might have been a sad git at uni. Probably still am.

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Yes, that certainly makes more sense than photons behaving as 'normal' matter. I suspect that a rod constructed of matter-photons would be as good a weapon as a broomstick.

I might be wrong of course, it's been known to happen :)

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One word to explain them all

midi-chlorians

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Not to mention the fact that lightsabers are HOT. They're hot enough to cauterize the wounds they make instantly, to melt blast doors, and to scorch pretty much anything they cut through. For that matter they don't really 'cut' so much as instantly melt a microscopic path through whatever they're used on. That's how hot they are.

This light-matter stuff, on the other hand, sounds like it's cold. And by that I mean superconductor range temperatures. Which is pretty much the opposite of a lightsaber.

Mine's the one with the Star Wars Encyclopedia in one pocket and the empty address book in the other.

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Re: Exactly

I gave a lot of thought to this myself, but concluded there was no way a sabre effect could be achieved.

I have designed a force field, though. I think it would work. It just has a few minor practical issues, like requiring the entire output of a power station to generate a field big enough to block a corridoor, an a tendency to incinerate anything that touches it. But the theory would work: You could flip marbles at it and they would just bounce off.

One day I will find a way to build it. I think I could run a small-scale prototype off no more than twenty kilowatts or so.

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One way I figured to build an actual light sabre would use a laser that, when focused, would be powerful enough to heat air to plasma.

Then using a piezoelectric lens so that the focal point would be swept back and forth to generate the 'blade'.

It'd look like a light sabre, burn through stuff, and make the crackling and vroom sounds.

Unfortunately, sword fights wouldn't work, the 'blades' would pass through each other.

Two major drawbacks:

The handle would need to be hooked up to a rather unwieldy power source and cooling air supply. You'd look like you were dragging a vacuum cleaner around by the hose.

Air tends to produce some nasty to breath compounds at that temperature, you'd need to wear a respirator to use it!

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Anonymous Coward

"Air tends to produce some nasty to breath compounds at that temperature, you'd need to wear a respirator to use it!"

Umm, like Darth Vader?

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Re: Exactly

You'll be wanting to read up on the work of Kenneth R. Shoulders then.

Seriously.

He was looking into building structures, including processors, from plasma back in the early 1960s.

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"Personally I've always considered light sabres to be magnetically confined plasma."

Briefly considered that back in the 1980's. Then, I considered how magnetic fields don't maintain annular confinement beyond a magnetic coil.

Then, I considered multiple standing waves and a holographic reflector at the point...

Finally, I considered it a matter of, "To hell with that idiocy. A blaster puts out a greater volume of fire."

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"The handle would need to be hooked up to a rather unwieldy power source and cooling air supply."

Cooling air supply? Highly inefficient. I'd use a liquid coolant.

Since the air is already becoming unbreathable due to ozone, might as well use anhydrous ammonia for the coolant. ;)

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A magnetic field can be shaped with a stream of high-energy charge particles. Think of the way the earth's field is distorted by the solar wind. You'd need a ridiculous amount of energy in the particles to a shape a field that strong, though. It certainly wouldn't be portable.

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Only a fool brings a lightsabre to a blaster fight ...

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The handle would need to be hooked up to a rather unwieldy power source and cooling air supply. You'd look like you were dragging a vacuum cleaner around by the hose.

Canonically the first lightsabers (a few thousand years before Exar Kun and something like ten or fifteen thousand years before the movies) had a bulky backpack power supply about the size of a vacuum cleaner and a fat power cable going to the handle, so you're on the right track.

*Yes, I truly am sad enough to know that much about the history of the Star Wars universe. As I've mentioned before I had way too much time on my hands when I was younger. This is just further proof of the fact.

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Re: Only a fool brings a lightsabre to a blaster fight

And only a jedi brings a lightsaber to a blaster fight and is the only one to walk away from it

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Devil

Re: Only a fool brings a lightsabre to a blaster fight

And only a marketing professional brings an EMP grenade and a slingshot to a blaster/lightsaber fight and walks away victorious :)

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Re: One word to explain them all

midi-chlorians

Didn't it just just pass its 30th anniversary recently?

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Anonymous Coward

hooked up to a rather unwieldy power source

I am sure I read in some Star Wars wiki that the first light sabers actually had to be tethered to a belt mounted power source ;-)

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Crystals made of light...

.... Could they be made to work as gates? Optical computing in its ultimate form.

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Re: Crystals made of light...

More like gates on the end of footballers driveways for the ultimate bling

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Re: Crystals made of light...

".... Could they be made to work as gates? Optical computing in its ultimate form."

You think too small. Gates and loads more. Think entire circuits, when holographic and magnetic techniques shape it.

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Not so similar...

Surely an "object" made of "solidified" light would not leak visible photons?

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If this guy is Lukin ...

does he have a father called Anake

I'll get me Jedi robe

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Re: If this guy is Lukin ...

That would be an accidental inon exchange.

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"wholly out of light"

... yeah - wholly out of light that is strongly coupled to rubidium atoms. So not /only/ out of light, which is what is strongly implied by "wholly out of light".

I look forward to the Star Wars pre-pre-pre-prequels where proto-jedi whack each other over the head with clubs made out of ultracold-atom vacuum systems. :-)

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Re: "wholly out of light"

The only way you get light to not travel at lightspeed is to make it interact with something. E.g. in water, visible light interacts with the water molecules, and it slows by about 30% (hence the refractive index of 1.5). To make light really slow, you have to get it to interact very strongly - in this case, using a specific frequency of light tuned to specific transitions in carefully managed rubidium atoms.

This "slow light" therefore, is a rather misleading name - it isn't just light - it's a strongly coupled light-matter system, which some would prefer to call a polariton.

I can therefore only assume the down votes were for the poor quality joke.

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Re: "wholly out of light"

"... the Star Wars pre-pre-pre-prequels ..."

Don't even joke about such things!!

I'll have nightmares for weeks now ...

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TRT
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Re: "wholly out of light"

Of course, you could always expose photons to a strong thaumic field... that would slow it down very much.

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