The awesome power of the Death Star loomed large over the first Star Wars movie. The evil galactic Empire had a weapon of such destructive might that it was almost impossible to get near them. Well, good news everyone. That horrifying death machine is now a step closer to leaving the world of science fiction and entering reality. Just in time for Christmas!
Of course, the real world isn’t actually Star Wars and we’re still a pretty long way away from the real equivalents of the worst Star Wars villains being able to build deadly space stations like the Death Star. But maybe the Star Wars characters could’ve stopped it too if they’d paid attention to early warning signs like big advancements in laser technology. Who knows?
Live Science has reported on the findings in a new scientific paper, in which the researchers claim to have uncovered a way to reduce the scattering of light in laser beams. This theoretically means they could create a focused, smooth beam with the intensity to melt targets, just like in some of the best science fiction movies. Though we’re a long way from something capable of vaporizing an entire planet, thankfully.
“A bad quality laser beam will diverge very rapidly as it propagates and therefore cannot deliver a concentrated amount of energy to the target. We have a way to control the property of light in such fiber so that it emerges as a focused point that can be turned into a narrow high-quality beam,” said the paper’s lead authors Stephen Warren-Smith and Linh Nguyen.
They added, ominously, that “the laser beam is focused on a distant target for perhaps a few seconds, which causes the target to melt or burn”. Apparently it’s most effective on small targets, but can interfere with electronics on bigger machines.
OK, so nobody will be turning Mars into Alderaan any time soon, which is undeniably a good thing. But technology is definitely moving in the direction of more and more impressive weapons, which have chilling potential if they end up in less-than-ideal hands. And we don’t even have the Star Wars cast to save us from them.
So next time you’re watching the Star Wars movies in order, you should probably do a quick Google of the newest laser tech. You never know when you might have to get in an X-wing for real and aim at that exhaust port.
Of course, there’s plenty of sci-fi escapism on the way before we have to worry about any of that, with new Star Wars movies and Star Wars series coming thick and fast. In particular, we can’t wait for the Andor season 2 release date to arrive.
For more Star Wars, learn how the real Death Star cost even more than George Lucas’s Ferrari and find out how Liam Neeson stole an iconic line from Samuel L Jackson. We’ve also dug deep to explain why Star Wars should now return to Rian Johnson’s best idea.