The Science of Lightsabers: the Science Museum celebrates Star Wars Day on #MayThe4th

To mark Star Wars Day, on May 4th, the Science Museum dives into the science and objects that could allow us to build our own version of the iconic Jedi weapon.

Star Wars video gameScience Museum

A New Hope?

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, an epic sci-fi space-opera was created by George Lucas, which became and a worldwide pop-culture phenomenon was born. But how much real science lurks in the fictional worlds of Star Wars?

Photo of a thermonuclear flameScience Museum

The making of a lightsaber

Lightsabers are the weapon of choice for the Jedi and Sith. They are thought by many to tame what is called the fourth state of matter, so called plasma. 

Modern fusion reactors are capable of producing plasma at 150 million °C, 10x the temperature at the core of the Sun.

'Jedi' helmetsScience Museum

Determining the correct amount of magnetic force is key to wielding these lightsabers in the same manner as seen in the Star Wars movies.

The magnets required would be far stronger than those found within these Jedi-like helmets.

It's all about the magnets!

Magnetic fields are the key to containing the plasma in these reactors and so the same could apply to a lightsaber. The good news is a plasma capable of cutting through steel would not have to be anything like as hot as that required for nuclear fusion, merely a few thousand °C.

A robot at Selfridges (1934-03-13) by Edward MalindineScience Museum

Do or do not. There is no try

Speculating about the science behind the fiction inspires us to think creatively.

Star Wars continues to inspire generations of science and science fiction thinkers – it’s even played a role in the making our exhibition, Science Fiction: Voyage to the Edge of Imagination.

Check out our latest video in which the Lead Curator for Science Fiction, Dr. Glyn Morgan, celebrates #MayThe4th with a walkthrough of the exhibition and our Millennium Falcon-inspired engineering console!

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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