Scientists at MIT and Harvard have constructed a light saber! Their skills are complete! (Washington Post)

Scientists at MIT and Harvard have constructed a light saber! Their skills are complete!

By Alexandra Petri, Published: September 30 at 12:02 pm

Indeed they are powerful, as the Emperor has foreseen!

Let me explain.

Several scientists at Harvard and MIT are basically Jedi now. Harvard Professor of Physics Mikhail Lukin and MIT Professor of Physics Vladan Vuletic, working with colleagues at the Harvard-MIT Center for Ultracold Atoms (which would be an okay but not overwhelming name for a band) have constructed a light saber — or at least something that closely resembles one. After several months of intense training — levitating their droids, climbing into caves made of tree roots and having disturbing visions of the future that included cities in the clouds and (more disastrously) accidental spoilers for the final episodes of Breaking Bad, they finally honed their skills to the point of being able to build the elegant weapons of a more civilized age.

A little actual science to leaven this exultation: What has actually happened is that scientists at Harvard and MIT created a medium in which photons behave like they have mass (our operating assumption for a while has been that they are “massless particles”) and from which they emerge bonded together into a molecule. This is nifty for reasons other than that we are marginally closer to light sabers than we used to be — it could come in handy in quantum computing — but mainly it is exciting because we are marginally closer to light sabers than we used to be.  Read more.

Check out this course on OCW by Professor Vuletic:

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