An elegant weapon for a more civilized age
January 25, 2016 3:16 AM   Subscribe

Not content at making Thor's hammer Mjölnir (and a Rasengan) Allen Pan has made a working lightsaber (probably best not to try this at home) (MLYT) (previously)
posted by fearfulsymmetry (27 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
What could possibly go wrong?
posted by Optamystic at 3:33 AM on January 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


So this describes it as "a small flamethrower with a focused 'beam.'" Which is a neat trick. I couldn't help but think as he was refilling the fuel tank that a commercial lightsaber would have a way to do that without removing the top of the blade.

It's the sound effects that took it over the top.
posted by graymouser at 3:35 AM on January 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


needs strontium nitrate
posted by ryanrs at 3:52 AM on January 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


Initially misread as 'for a more civilized ape', which is better anyway.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 4:16 AM on January 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


I love how awesomely reckless this is. This is exactly the kind of stuff my friend did during and after high school. That guy built a home security system that involved electrifying all the exterior door handles with neon sign transformers(and basically blew our other friend off the porch and down the stairs), tried to make a microwave/EMP car "stunner" that would crash ECUs(i was never clear on whether it worked or could work but it was scary as hell), and who i did my own "Is it a bad idea to microwave this?" sort of thing with*. Ordering way too big of magnets off the internet, building high powered handheld lasers with sketchy parts and somehow not going blind setting stuff on fire, etc.

This guy completely strikes me as the kind of person who got sent home from high school for bringing a tesla coil to class and neglecting to tell everyone to not get too close. And i fucking love it.

It's that crossover point between something being clever, actually sort of challenging to make, but completely and blatantly dangerous in a fairly reckless way that always pulls me back in.

Oh, and "sticking the 1w+ laser in the toy lightsaber" is totally a thing that happened back then, which is part of why this made me smile so much.

*This is a good one in and of itself. The microwave at our house died, and we went to the shitty department store to get another one. Got it home, plugged it in... and the light came on immediately. Put in some time, pushed start... nothing? Open the door and the light shuts off. Huh? Push start and it starts running with the door open. Fucking switch was wired backwards! So being dumbfucks we picked it up and ran out into the driveway, came back with an extension cord, and just started nuking shit in the driveway with the door open until the neighbors came out to yell at us because we were laughing so hard and going "wait wait lets throw one of those in there!". And then a few weeks later, we got a MUCH bigger microwave a small cooking fire had happened in... of the big commercial >1500w variety. oh god.
posted by emptythought at 4:31 AM on January 25, 2016 [7 favorites]


tried to make a microwave/EMP car "stunner" that would crash ECUs

This may be an interesting line of research for the defense from drones and "killer" robots.
posted by sammyo at 6:18 AM on January 25, 2016


Star Wars would be a very different movie if all lightsabers did was make light burns in your coat.
posted by xingcat at 6:25 AM on January 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


ryanrs: "needs strontium nitrate"

I prefer copper (I) chloride.
posted by Splunge at 6:36 AM on January 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


More of a flaming sword without the sword.

Star Wars would be a very different movie if all lightsabers did was make light burns in your coat.

As a kid I was always disappointed that a flaming sword in D&D only did a single d6 worth of extra damage, but it makes sense now.
posted by straight at 6:49 AM on January 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm impressed by this, and yet so disappointed that it's impossible to even get close to the 'real' thing. Also, that coat scene looked pretty dodgy.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:11 AM on January 25, 2016


This guy completely strikes me as the kind of person who got sent home from high school for bringing a tesla coil to class and neglecting to tell everyone to not get too close.

In my day physics class already had a tesla coil in it, and we got plenty close to it.

And we liked it. We liked it fine.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:05 AM on January 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


That isn't a lightsaber, it's a flamethrower. You can't just build a thing and then call it something it isn't; what next, calling wheeled scooters 'hoverboards'?
posted by truex at 8:23 AM on January 25, 2016 [11 favorites]


It's not "working" until you can accidentally slice off your own hand and cauterize the wound at the same time.
posted by sfenders at 8:39 AM on January 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


As a kid I was always disappointed that a flaming sword in D&D only did a single d6 worth of extra damage, but it makes sense now.

Your 'Birds and the Bees' talk sounds a lot more interesting than mine.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:47 AM on January 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Heh. I bought one of those tesla coil cigarette lighters from amazon because, pocket-sized tesla coil? Yes please.
posted by valkane at 8:59 AM on January 25, 2016


It's not "working" until you can accidentally slice off your own hand and cauterize the wound at the same time

FurzoToasto
posted by flabdablet at 9:26 AM on January 25, 2016


You can get your lightsabers, I mean, plasma torches, at Harbor Freight. Just needs some repackaging.
posted by lagomorphius at 10:07 AM on January 25, 2016


First I was like, "Hey, that tesla coil cigarette lighter is cool." But then I was all, "I HAVE GOT TO HAVE a plasma torch!"
posted by Splunge at 11:05 AM on January 25, 2016


Any project that uses butane for propellant is pretty punk rock. Camera operator was pretty jumpy with the first balloon; made me think there was an untapped flame vector for next time. Everyone loves hydrogen baloons!
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:47 AM on January 25, 2016


That isn't a lightsaber, it's a flamethrower.

I'm wondering just how much closer to a lightsaber it would be even possible to get. Like, how outside the realm of our current science are lightsabers? Could you make one with a sufficiently overclocked plasma arc? Could you build some sort of anti-gluon beam that breaks the Strong Interaction between molecules?

I want answers! Someone get DARPA on this, pronto.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 11:58 AM on January 25, 2016


I'm wondering just how much closer to a lightsaber it would be even possible to get.

The thing you're asking for is a hugely powerful laser gun with a beam that obliterates everything in its path but has a very tiny 3' range, which is pretty ridiculous. Like asking for a continually firing rapid chain gun, the bullets of which just disappear a meter or so from the gun.
posted by straight at 12:18 PM on January 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


the heart wants what it wants
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:57 PM on January 25, 2016 [6 favorites]


straight, there are ways to techno-babble around the problems. How about a magnetic cone that constrains a field of plasma to a specific length?
posted by truex at 1:40 PM on January 25, 2016


there are ways to techno-babble around the problems.

Yes, probably. According to the latest research in the Journal of Physics Special Topics, magnetic confinement would be difficult. Perhaps with more than two coils they would have better luck, but you'd still have plasma confinement problems.

No, as should be well-known by now (I can't remember who came up with the idea), the way to do it is with an indestructible telescopic tube which can't be seen due to the ridiculously high-temperature plasma it emits in tiny jets all across its surface, produced by microscopic valves which open further in response to pressure on the blade (although that may have the side-effect of producing bright flashes of light and sparks when blades are crossed). I suppose the plasma would need to be produced from surrounding air using energy from the awesome power of the Force. It might be best to use a magnetic field as well, just enough to prevent the small amount of plasma produced when not cutting things from drifting too far. Perhaps one could add an incomprehensibly high-pressure reserve tank for use in a vacuum, or in unsuitable atmospheres, or to produce a particularly desirable colour.
posted by sfenders at 3:44 PM on January 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


I used to get hits for years from people doing searches for this sort of thing.

Now, dare I mention it again there....
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:06 PM on January 25, 2016


Chiming in as your fairly established prop-and-physics nerd on MeFi, and I second sfenders.

I've been watching this project develop and I love it, but the nearest not nearly unobtanium scheme for a light saber is something like what sfenders is describing.

A long time ago I saw a proposal for something that involved like a conductive graphene rod, strand or monomolecular string that was electrostatically repelled and conducted a plasma charge that bent around it from hilt to tip, but the power requirements pretty much begged for a pocket nuclear reactor or something.

It's probably a good thing that the invincible laser pocket sword that cuts darn near anything and runs forever even after sitting in a drawer for thirty years isn't easily a thing.

Because I know how that fantasy ran for me as a kid, and there were holes in everything.
posted by loquacious at 3:24 AM on January 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


It should be mentioned that these guys picked one of the lowest temperature fuels available. Methanol + acetone burns with a very cool flame. Presumably a proper weaponized version would use a more energetic fuel than this indoor prototype.

A triethylborane version would be pretty sexy.
posted by ryanrs at 5:49 AM on January 26, 2016


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