The lightsaber is supposed to be an elegant weapon from a more civilized age. It inflicts wounds that are tidy and survivable, it can melt through blast doors without melting its wielder’s hands, and it’s purported to be not as clumsy as a blaster. But if a lightsaber really could do all the things we see it do in the Star Wars films, death by lightsaber would be anything but tidy.
In my latest Because Science, I’m breaking down the real world consequences of getting slashed by a plasma sword. The weapons don’t pierce objects like normal swords do: applying immense pressures to overcome the strengths of materials and move them out of the way. Instead, lightsabers are vaporizing materials, and as those material escape as gas, the saber can dig deeper into its target.
But humans (or humanoids) aren’t blast doors. They are made of organic stuff that tends to expand violently into gas when heated quickly. You might already see where I’m going with this…it’s gonna get messy.
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