Light Matters

Sep. 25, 2013 — Harvard and MIT scientists are challenging the conventional wisdom about light, and they didn't need to go to a galaxy far, far away to do it.

Working with colleagues at the Harvard-MIT Center for Ultracold Atoms, a group led by Harvard Professor of Physics Mikhail Lukin and MIT Professor of Physics Vladan Vuletic have managed to coax photons into binding together to form molecules -- a state of matter that, until recently, had been purely theoretical. The work is described in a September 25 paper in Nature.

The discovery, Lukin said, runs contrary to decades of accepted wisdom about the nature of light. Photons have long been described as massless particles which don't interact with each other -- shine two laser beams at each other, he said, and they simply pass through one another.

The best part about science is that we constantly learn that we don't know as much as we thought we did. Within the last century our perception of space, time, and life have been flopped around so many times that our scientists seem like politicians.

In all seriousness, this is pretty amazing to think. We have discovered a way to make Photons interact with each other, and create a new form of matter previously thought to be purely theoretical. Especially considering the scientists themselves acknowledging Light Sabers as an apt analogy for this new form of matter.

So the real question is - How long before we have Light Saber cheese knives?