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Have scientists really invented a Star Wars-style lightsaber?

Samuel L. Jackson

Associated Press

Good news and bad news for hard-core Stars Wars fans.

The good news: Scientists say they have finally taken the next step of turning science fiction into fact with the invention of a real-life lightsaber.

The bad news: The creation of the lightsaber was an accident and the result is nowhere near as cool as the weapon wielded by Luke Skywalker.

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As reported in The Guardian, physicists from Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology recently published an article in Nature magazine stating they had discovered a way to bind photons together to form a new molecule. "What we have done," Harvard professor Mikhail Lukin crowed, "is create a special type of medium in which photons interact with each other so strongly that they act as though they have mass, and bind together to form molecules."

All of which has the scientists so excited that they immediately began likening the new molecules to the ominous humming weaponry deployed by heroes and villains in the Star Wars movie franchise.

"It's not an in-apt analogy to compare this to lightsabers," Lukin said. "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."

But mostly the new lightsaber talk sounds suspiciously like scuttlebutt you might overhear at a comic-book convention.

So far, the Harvard-MIT physicists have not released any indication they would be using the new technology to construct actual lightsaber-style weapons.

Furthermore, there's probably no reason to believe anybody would ever financially back the production of such a weapon for use in hand-to-hand combat. Isn't most of the fighting done with computers and flying drones these days?

Perhaps some scientists are much like the nerdy characters on The Big Bang Theory and require only a glimmer of hope in regard to making their superhero fantasies come to existence.

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And scientists can be known to be huge Stars Wars fans, and since the next movie instalment in the sci-fi saga isn't slated to hit theatres until Christmas, 2015, it's likely a case of active imagination meeting wishful thinking.

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