date posted: Dec 28, 2005 2:32 AM edit
How Lightsabers Work
Springing from this blogger's entry asking how the lightsabers work, I decided to ask my friend, **Dr. Colleen Fitzpatrick, Ph.D, about the lightsaber. Does it exist in the real world, not the actual device in the form seen in the films but an equivalent. This was her response:
I miss you too! I've actually had to look up some of my own answers without your usual copious input! Hurry back.
Hope your holidays calm down and you get some R&R.
As far as lightsabers go, yes and no about do they exist. Lasers are actually light sabers, you just don't see the beam. That's the catch. Lasers can cut things in half if they are powerful enough, of course they can burn wood and cinder block etc. It's just that unless the light reflects off something you don't see it. You can't see a beam of light just sticking in the air unless it's in a smoky room and the light can scatter off the dust and smoke particles. Even so the beam will either dissipate in the smoke as the light gets scattered out of it or it will reflect off the nearest wall. It won't have a well defined end or edge like a real saber.
A laser that strong would also not be portable or else it would be so small that the beam coming out of it would also be small (but still very powerful).
So, yes and no. Light sabers do exist, they just aren't sticks of light you can wield around like they are swords.
I'm sure there are some of you out there who, scientifically inclined or not, already knew this information or had a basic idea, as I did, about how they worked, but it was nice to get a short, understandable answer.
I want to thank Dr. Fitzpatrick for taking the time to answer my question.
If you want to learn a little more about lasers themselves you can visit How Stuff Works.
As usual, enjoy!
**Dr. Fitzpatrick developed innovative technologies for NASA, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense as well as being an avid +genealogist (an area of great personal interest for me). She is an expert on optical laser measurement techniques (part of the optoelectronic field I believe)
+She wrote a book called Forensic Genealogy which has been a very helpful resource for me and other genealogists/family historians in picking apart older photographs to cull valuable genealogical information, researching and decoding written databases and utilizing DNA analysis to decipher and track familial (genealogical) relationships.
EDIT: Dr. Fitzpatrick and my cousin, Andrew Yeiser, wrote another book recently called, DNA & Genealogy which is another terrific read and a great help.