Just in time for the new installment of the Star Wars saga, scientists may have finally invented the lightsaber. The fabled saber wasn’t crafted in a galaxy far far away, but instead in the halls of M.I.T. and Harvard University, where a team of physicists discovered a way to bind photons together in order to form a new molecule, which behaves similarly to the weapon of choice for Jedis.
While the scientists may have been pleased with their sci-fi friendly findings, the discovery was actually a by-product of unrelated experiments, which according to Yahoo, involved photons and rubidium atoms, not mitichlorines. While the team was attempting to find new ways to deliver quantum information, they found that when more than one photon was fired through a cloud of rubidium in a chamber cooled by lasers to just a few degrees above absolute zero, the photons teamed up and started interacting and behaving in a surprising and unexpected manner.
While photons have long been considered massless particles of light that don’t interact, their behavior changed when they were fired through rubidium atoms–which sounds more like something out of The Hulk, than Star Wars. When the photons emerged from the other side of the cloud, they clumped together into a single molecule, which scientists then forced to move through the cloud together with a push and pull motion.
“It’s not an in-apt analogy to compare this to lightsabers,” said Harvard university physics professor Mikhail Lukin. “When these photons interact with each other, they’re pushing against and deflect each other. The physics of what’s happening in these molecules is similar to what we see in the movies.”
While the discovery may help scientists build quantum computers, one can only imagine what Disney might do with the findings.