Friday, November 15, 2013

134.6 - And Another Thing 1: light sabers coming?

And Another Thing 1: light sabers coming?

Okay, time for a break from serious stuff for our occasional feature about cool science stuff, which is called And Another Thing.

I've been holding on to this one because I really wanted to do it because it's really going to join the geeks and nerds. So even though it's from September, here it is:

Physicists from Harvard and MIT say they've created a new form of matter.

They did it by binding together photons. Now, photons are particles - properly, quanta - of electromagnetic energy (such as X-rays, radio waves, and light) and are generally considered to have no mass and they don't interact with each other. That's why you can have multiple radio stations all available in the same room and why two flashlight beams can cross without either being affected.

However, these researchers have developed a way to make photons interact so strongly that they begin to act as though they have mass and they bind together to form, in effect, molecules of light.

Dr. Mikhail Lukin, a professor of physics at Harvard and one of the researchers involved, said that because this involves molecules of light pushing against and deflecting each other, "It's not an in-apt analogy to compare this to light sabers."

So could light sabers ever be real things? Um, well, maybe.

The UK newspaper the Guardian had some fun with this, saying that inexplicably, reports suggest that physicists have not yet begun to build actual light sabers, nor have they perfected the proper "wishzz" light saber sound. The paper speculated that what with a new trilogy of Star Wars films on the way, the scientists are just biding their time for a Christmas 2015 rollout in toy stores.


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