The Internet has spoken: The Force Awakens‘ coolest character wasn’t Finn or Rey or even Poe. It was the stormtrooper now known as TR-8R, or “traitor.” He was only on screen for a few seconds, but he totally stole the scene, and from a lightsaber-wielding Finn no less. Here was a stormtrooper that was actually imposing, one that knew how to use a weapon. With his confidence and ability, TR-8R instantly became this generation’s Boba Fett. But what about that badass baton he was using to repel Finn—how did that work?
In my latest Because Science, I’m using the Force—electromagnetism—to figure out how an electrically charged baton could repel the plasma blade of a lightsaber. Electricity and magnetism are joined at the hip in physics. An electric field can create a magnetic field and vice versa. And when oriented in space the right way, these fields can attract and repel each other. My theory is that Kylo Ren and the First Order did their research, and that the lightsaber-resistant weapons of the stormtroopers are tuned specifically to produce a field that repels the one that contains the plasma of the lightsaber blade.
Or maybe it’s just the Force. Either way, hopefully we all learned something.
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