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Real-Life Light Sabers Better for Quantum Computing Than Fighting the Empire

Star Wars fans may have something to celebrate after news broke that scientists at MIT and Harvard were able to create real-life light sabers, but they won't be hitting store shelves anytime soon.

The scientists where able to get photons, particles of light, to bind with other molecules forming a "a state of matter that, until recently, had been purely theoretical," according to a press release.

"Maybe a characteristic of a light-saber is that you have these two light beams and they don't go through each other as you might expect they just kind of bounce off each other," physicist Vladan Vuletic told WBZ-TV.

The science behind the advancement is still pretty complicated. CNN reported that researchers first pumped atoms of the metal rubidium into a vacuum chamber. This created a metal cloud that they cooled down using lasers to about minus-450 degrees Fahrenheit, also known as absolute zero.

"Photonic molecules," as they are known, don't act like traditional lasers where the light particles pass by one another and rather bind together like a light-saber.

"It's not an inapt analogy to compare this to light sabers," Harvard Professor of Physics Mikhail Lukin said in the announcement. "When these photons interact with each other, they're pushing against and deflect each other. The physics of what's happening in these molecules is similar to what we see in the movies."

"Most of the properties of light we know about originate from the fact that photons are massless, and that they do not interact with each other," Lukin added. "What we have done is create a special type of medium in which photons interact with each other so strongly that they begin to act as though they have mass, and they bind together to form molecules."

Vuletic said the advancement could be used for quantum computing, computers that can run at light speed or 10,000 times faster than today's speed, at some point this century.

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