Thursday, November 15, 2007

How Lightsabers Work

It's All In The Handle

A lightsaber is a unique device, created by hand -- the controls will be slightly different on each individual lightsaber that you buy. But all lightsabers share the same general characteristics. If you were ever to pick up and examine a typical lightsaber, here are several things that you would immediately notice:
· A lightsaber is normally about 30 centimeters long, about the size of a large flashlight.
· At one end is the hand grip, belt ring and on/off switch (a.k.a., the Activation Matrix).
· At the other end there is the blade arc tip and stabilizing ring.
· Somewhere on the case (generally near the blade end of the lightsaber) you find one or two adjusting knobs for blade power and blade length.
When you turn on the lightsaber (*see important safety tips), you will notice the blade rapidly extending to its set length. You can adjust the length using the blade length adjusting knob. The lightsaber blade will make a distinctive sound that is typical of an arc wave energy field. You will also feel a gyroscopic effect in the handle, which again is a distinctive characteristic of the arc wave blade. This gyroscopic effect can take some getting used to, so be sure to handle any active lightsaber with extreme care until you are completely familiar with its feel and handling.

Important Safety Information
A lightsaber is not a toy! Keep it out of reach of children at all times. Lightsaber locks are required in most states.
There are two ends to any lightsaber -- one end has the belt ring, while the other end houses the blade arc tip and blade emitter. NEVER point the blade emitter of a lightsaber toward your own body. NEVER look down the "barrel" of a lightsaber, even if you are "sure" it is in safe mode. If you accidentally activate the lightsaber, serious injury could result.

The Lightsaber Blade
Once active, the blade of a lightsaber can be used in four different ways.
The most common use, of course, is slicing. A lightsaber is like a sword on steroids. Cutting through any human limb -- even an entire torso -- is trivial. It's like cutting through a banana with a machete.
A lightsaber can help convince an assailant that no means no.
With practice you can also use a lightsaber like a knife. For example, if you need to cut open the belly of a large domestic animal like a horse or a tauntaun, the lightsaber is the perfect tool. Simply use the tip of the blade and control the depth of your cut just like you would with a scalpel.
Nearly anything you would normally find around the home or office is easy to cut with a lightsaber, including steel pipes, reinforcing beams, mounting struts and so on. If you happen to find yourself hanging upside down in a cave, a lightsaber is the perfect tool to use to cut the rope.
Another common use is melting. For example, if you come upon a three-foot-thick blast door, you cannot "slice" your way through it like you can with a normal steel or concrete partition. But you can plunge the blade of your lightsaber straight into the door and then melt your way through it to cut out an opening. This normally takes several minutes, but the results are most impressive to anyone on the other side of the blast door.
Another important use of a lightsaber is deflection, in two different ways:
1. A lightsaber blade can deflect another lightsaber blade and block its path.
2. A lightsaber blade can deflect blaster bolts. In most cases you will want to deflect the bolts back at the person who shot them at you in the first place, but it is also possible to deflect them toward other objects and people in the room.
A lightsaber user with a strong affinity for the Force has a distinct advantage in the latter situation. By using the Force, the wielder can anticipate the path of the blaster bolt and align the blade with that path prior to the bolt's arrival. Using normal visual tracking to accomplish the same effect can be far more difficult.

Inside the Lightsaber

The construction of a lightsaber is a Jedi art passed down primarily by word-of-mouth from a Jedi master to his young Padawan learner. Therefore the interior features of any two lightsabers can vary in their details. However, the main features are remarkably consistent from lightsaber to lightsaber because of the common lineage of information.
The four major components inside any lightsaber include:
· The power cell and associated components
· The crystal energy chamber
· The energy channel and blade arc tip
· The controls
The Power CellObviously a lightsaber contains a tremendous amount of energy -- far more than a blaster, for example. Any device that can melt its way through a three-foot-thick reinforced blast door in a matter of minutes obviously has access to tremendous energy reserves. Estimates range as high as several megawatt-hours of stored energy.
The source of this energy is a diatium power cell -- a device no larger than a roll of LifeSavers®. Diatium power cells are available from a variety of military and some civilian sources.
Surrounding the power cell is a power field conductor and the power vortex ring. These two devices work in concert with one another to move the available energy toward the energy gate. The energy gate controls the flow of energy into the crystal energy chamber.
The Crystal Energy ChamberReally the heart of any lightsaber, the crystal energy chamber is responsible for primary energy conversion. At least two crystals (typically of the Adegan variety) are used in the energy chamber.
The first crystal is known as the primary crystal. It converts the energy channeling from the power assembly and then transfers its output to one or more focusing crystals. The focusing crystals are held in place by the focusing crystal activator.
The crystal energy chamber is the reason why all lightsabers are built by hand, and then only in the latter stages of Jedi training. The builder must align the crystals perfectly or risk detonation of the lightsaber upon activation. Only through the use of the Force can the proper alignment be guaranteed.
With several megawatt-hours of energy on tap, detonation is of course a catastrophic event. For this reason, initial activation is normally done remotely with an inexpensive droid.
The Energy Channel and ControlsThe energy channel is where the actual lightsaber blade is generated. Energy flowing from the crystal energy chamber is converted to the arc wave that will become the blade. The arc wave flows up through the blade energy channel and past the cycling field energizers. These energizers are responsible for the gyroscopic effect discussed earlier in the article.
The refined arc wave makes its way to the blade arc tip and from there becomes visible as the glowing blade of the lightsaber that is so familiar.
The on/off switch, also known as the activation matrix, as well as the blade length and power adjustment controls are typically located near the cycling field energizers. Using these controls, the lightsaber's owner can tune the blade for specific applications.
Using Your Lightsaber Around the Home
Although a lightsaber is typically used as a defensive weapon by Jedi knights, the availability of lightsabers on consumer sites such as eBay is growing. It is a sad fact of life, but if a Jedi knight falls on hard times, his lightsaber is one source of quick cash. He can always build another one. If you are lucky enough to acquire a lightsaber, you are probably purchasing it for personal defense purposes. A lightsaber completely blows away a can of pepper spray as a deterrent in muggings or robberies. However, many new owners are pleasantly surprised by the many domestic uses of a lightsaber around the home or office. Let's examine a few of the more common applications here, and then you can use your imagination to come up with others.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What's a flashlight?