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Lightsabers

I don't know if this is new or just one author's opinion.  If it is true, then I never knew this about lightsabers.  In Dark Force Rising, Timothy Zahn describes the damage done to a human from a lightsaber blow that killed the person as a near microscopic cut with some cauterization.

I always thought of a light saber as this big, half-inch to inch wide pillar of burning plasma.  Of course, the heat must not travel that far off the blade--heat like that, just getting close to it would cook raw skin.

We've seen the weapon cut off limbs, through pipes and catwalk caging, and be shoved handle deep into a blast door so that the other side turns to molten steel.

But, we've also seen a lot less damage.  Check out Finn, when he is sliced up the back in The Force Awakens. I would expect a trench to be cut in his back--instant death.  But, that's not what we see in the film...

LIGHTSABER DUEL IN THE FORCE AWAKENS

 

 

In Attack of Clones, Anakin chops the aliens into pieces...

ANAKIN SPLIT 'EM IN HALF

 

 

On Jabba's sail barge, we see more of the type of damage that we see with Finn above...

SARLACC FIGHT

 

 

So, what's the deal?  Reading Zahn's explanation does fit all the things we see in the films.  The big, wide beam does not.  I thought that the films were just "PG" and, while we can see make believe flying aliens be cut into pieces, it was appropriate to show limbs and body parts go flying except at dramatically appropriate times (Obi-wan at the Cantina, Luke's Hand, Vader's Hand, Anakin's hand, Dooku's hands).

Are the lightsabers actually thread-thin beams, and all the light we see is just the intense light we see emitting off that very thin--almost microscopically thin--energy blade? 

Or, is all the light we see plasma energy?  In that case, are the Jedi barely touching the blade to targets (as with Finn and Luke on the sail barge) because...they don't want to make a bloody mess?

Or, is it both?  The lightsaber is all the color energy we see--as thick as that--but the user calls upon The Force to shape the blade when using to create an energy edge--the blade folds or protrudes into a very sharp, almost microscopic edge, all at the control of the Force user wielding the blade?


Thoughts?
 

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One of the WEG books describes the technology of lightsabers. If I recall correctly, the "blade" is described as an arc of energy, projected out to the length of the blade, then arcing back to the baseplate to form a "circuit" of sorts. So, essentially, it's a bunch of individual lasers forming a larger energy flow. 

Not that Star Wars is built on a solid foundation of real-world science, so whatever explanation you prefer for "laser sword" is probably just as valid.

EDIT: Found the reference. Star Wars Sourcebook, page 101.

Quote

 

Although the exact details of lightsaber operation remain shrouded in mystery, the general technology is known. All the controls and components fit into a compact handle 24 to 30 centimeters long. When the Jedi activates the lightsaber, a tremendous charge of pure energy flows from the power cell. A series of multi-faceted jewels focus the energy into a tight, parallel beam. Each saber beam has a unique fre- quency which determines the "feel" of the blade, how it handles when cutting something or contacting a force field or another saber blade. The frequency of each saber blade can be calculated from its blade color and pitch it generates. Sabers use between one and three jewels to give their beam a specific frequency.

Sabers with a single jewel have a fixed amplitude, which determines the blade length. Other sabers with multiple jewels can alter their amplitude, and thus the blade length, by rotating or varying the separation between the jewels. The best sabers use natural jewels, but, evidently, the Jedi can forge synthetic jewels with a small furnace and a few basic elements.

The beam emits from a positively charged continuous energy lens at the center of the handle. The beam then arcs circumferentially back to a negatively charged high energy flux aperture, usually set in a disk that also serves as a handguard. The power amplitude determines the point at which the beam arcs back to the disk, setting the blade length. The light, arcing beam forms a blade of amazing strength.

A superconductor transfers the power from the flux aperture to the power cell. Almost no energy is lost in the process - the beam doesn't even radiate noticeable heat, though it does fluoresce and hum. The saber loses power only when it cuts through something - but not when contacting another saber blade. The Jedi must use his strength and skill to force his blade against another saber blade; no lightsaber can cut another's beam.

Controls at the hilt of the saber adjust the power cell capacity and allow periodic recharging. Though exact duration figures are not known, it is clear that Jedi can use their sabers for years at a time before recharging becomes necessary. 

 

 

Edited by Krazma

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On 10/13/2019 at 1:46 PM, Krazma said:

One of the WEG books describes the technology of lightsabers. If I recall correctly, the "blade" is described as an arc of energy, projected out to the length of the blade, then arcing back to the baseplate to form a "circuit" of sorts. So, essentially, it's a bunch of individual lasers forming a larger energy flow. 

Not that Star Wars is built on a solid foundation of real-world science, so whatever explanation you prefer for "laser sword" is probably just as valid.

EDIT: Found the reference. Star Wars Sourcebook, page 101.

 

Not lasers, plasma. And to answer the OP's original question, the "inch wide" beam is the glow of the blade, not the cutting surface. 

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