In television history, there are not many moments that stand up to when Luke Skywalker first turned on his father’s dazzling blue lightsaber. From that scene, Star Wars took its first step towards becoming the legendary franchise it is today.
42 years later, the elegant and beautiful lightsaber still impresses fans worldwide. Every time a new movie is released, watchers sit at the edge of their seats wondering what new lightsabers will come up in the film. Will there be any new colors? Any intriguing designs?
It is only natural to wonder, then, if it’s possible for a real lightsaber to exist in the present day. Do we have enough knowledge of science and technology to back up this beloved sword?
Let’s look more closely at the idea.
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Is it Possible to Make a Real Lightsaber?
In the Star Wars universe, a lightsaber is made when a kyber crystal is put into a hilt made out of metal or wood. This crystal then powers up the blade depending on the color of the crystal.
Of course, we haven’t achieved the technology to find kyber crystals in space yet. That may come after we have exhaustively explored all the mysteries of our own Milky Way Galaxy. So if a real lightsaber were to be made that is accurate with those used in the Galatic Empire, how would it be done?
Currently, there are two theories on how a lightsaber could be made.
Lightsabers Made of Lasers
There is no denying that the dazzling glow and color of a lightsaber is not unlike a laser beam. The blade of the saber erupts from a hand-held hilt, which is also similar to what lasers do.
However, there is a problem with laser lightsabers.
First of all, lasers don’t have a particular length. They travel on and on until they reflect upon a solid surface. Imagine Luke Skywalker battling his father on Cloud City with a lightsaber that suddenly goes from 5 feet to 20 feet in an instant!
Another problem with laser lightsabers is that they won’t make a clashing sound on impact. Lasers aren’t solid, and a beam of laser light will make no sound when it hits another object. Imagine a lightsaber duel with mute blades going straight through each other!
So although lightsabers do look like lasers, it seems impossible to create one with laser technology. Maybe we need to learn more about lasers and how to contain them before thinking of creating a laser lightsaber.
Lightsabers Made of Plasma Blades
A more viable solution for a present-day lightsaber is the use of a plasma blade.
There are examples of plasma everywhere we look. For instance, neon lights get their glow and color because of plasma.
Plasma is the fourth state of matter, and it is created when gas is stripped of its electrons. Depending on the kind of gas, the resulting light produces a special color. So Luke’s green lightsaber could be made out of chlorine plasma and Vader’s red one out of helium.
Still, plasma lightsabers have their own problems.
For example, a plasma blade that is powerful enough to cut through steel and cauterize Jedi and Sith limbs needs a huge power source. A blade that powerful would need around 20 megawatts – enough power to run 14,000 homes! As of today, power sources the size of a Galatic Empire lightsaber’s hilt can’t contain that much energy.
Also, plasma blades are not solid. Imagine a lightsaber duel with blades going right through each other!
Is There Hope for the Lightsaber in the Future?
The biggest hope for an accurate lightsaber in the future is if we could learn to further manipulate lasers or plasma. Or discover something entirely new altogether. Or maybe a space mission to a planet with kyber crystals?
Nothing is impossible. Imagine what people would have said to the concept of electricity used to power lights and machines 2,000 years ago!
How Much Does a Real Lightsaber Cost if It Does Exist?
In 2012, a device called the Metal Vapor Torch was created for the U.S. military. Surprisingly, this torch is very much like a lightsaber. It features a glowing flame that can cut through inch-thick steel in an instant.
The Metal Vapor Torch is a powerful device. It features heat up to 2,700 degrees Celcius and can travel 1,600 miles per second. Although it also doesn’t have the solid blade and varying color of a lightsaber, its raw power comes close to what a lightsaber can do.
The Metal Vapor Torch runs on cartridges that cost around 35 dollars. The torch itself goes for 135 dollars. Considering the similarity in power to the lightsaber, it is safe to say that a real lightsaber could go for 170-200 dollars apiece.
However, the cartridge of the torch gives it power for only a few seconds. It may be more expensive to get a lightsaber with a steady source of power and light.
Where to Buy a Real Lightsaber if it Does Exist?
A lightsaber is powerful. It can cut limbs off, plow through thick steel, and deflect Force Lightning.
This means that a lightsaber is dangerous. Considering that it takes searing heat to cut through metal, it might not be available for sale to the general public.
So the best way Star Wars fans could hold a real lightsaber (if it did exist) would be if they joined the U.S. military or the police force. The Metal Vapor Torch was created for the police and emergency responders to cut through locks and steel in seconds. If a lightsaber were created, the best chance to use one would be in one of these institutions.
Hope for the Lightsaber
Although plasma tubes and lasers come close to what a lightsaber is, they do pose some serious problems that make it impossible for us to come up with a real Galatic Empire lightsaber today. Still, who knows? The ideas of flying or computerized machines were impossibilities only a few years ago. In the future, lightsabers might become a common form of entertainment or self-defense.