Is there anyone on Earth who wouldn’t want a lightsaber? I definitely can’t think of anybody… and if such a person exists, I wouldn’t want to know them anyway! The lightsaber is only the coolest fictional invention of all-time (slightly ahead of adamantium claws housed in one’s forearms), so it was with great excitement that I read a post on Wired’s Danger Room blog about the “plasma knife.” The article even had a picture of Luke Skywalker sporting his green Return of the Jedi lightsaber.
Danger Room likes to talk about technology the military is developing, and its pop-culture ties. Connecting the plasma knife to the lightsaber, though, is a bit of a stretch. The knife has been developed as a portable surgical tool for troops in the field. It cauterizes wounds, or effectively burns them closed. Sort of like applying a red-hot metal to the wound, like Rambo did in a couple First Blood movies. Still, the device does produce a “blade” of glowing ionized gas, so the comparison isn’t completely out of line.
That said, it would be uncharacteristic of military scientists to concentrate on finding only defensive or palliative uses of a new technology. Surely someone must be thinking about how to take this idea further, to creating true and proper lightsabers. Combine that with some of the new bionics the military is working on, and perhaps some genetically engineered superhuman abilities, and maybe we can get us some living, breathing Jedi knights.
If better and deadlier robots aren’t scaring the Taliban and Iraqi insurgents, why not unleash the Force on them?