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An elegant weapon ... for a more civilized age.

This is the how a lightsaber was introduced to viewers nearly 40 years ago. Trademark weapon of the semi-mystical Jedi, it is said that the glowing blade kept peace for millennia in the Galactic Republic. For those introduced to the weapon in 1977, when the first "Star Wars" movie came out, the characteristic hum of the lightsaber and the epic fight between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi is etched in those viewers' minds.

Given the impact the Star Wars franchise has had on society, it's inevitable that a segment of the public would love to make a lightsaber, and even train with it. But what technology could possibly yield the lightsaber? With that desire, came the first attempts to reverse-engineer the device. Reverse engineering, in this context, is thinking about how to do it…not actually building one. However, this research about clumping photons made the rounds a while ago. [How Real-Life AI Rivals 'Star Wars': A Universal Translator?]

If one could explore the device's performance, perhaps a few engineers could turn the lightsaber into next Christmas' hot, new "must-have" gift.

At the risk of crushing the dreams of some readers: Remember: "Star Wars" is science fiction. But what do scientists know that could, in theory, reveal how to build a lightsaber?

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