A YouTuber Built The World’s First Working Retractable Lightsaber

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Photo credit: YouTube/Guinness World Records

  • Guinness World Records has awarded Russian inventor Alex Burkan the world’s first working retractable lightsaber.

  • The lightsaber is basically a super powerful plasma cutter.

  • To make it work, an electrolyser splits water into hydrogen and oxygen, then it is heated.

A YouTuber in Russia has set a new world record for the first working retractable lightsaber. the star wars-Inspired technology uses white-heated elemental plasma, can run for up to 30 seconds at a time, and can even cut steel directly. And even better: it is mainly made from old and discarded parts.

In January, Guinness World Records recognized Alex Burkan, the mind behind the DIY lightsaber, for his invention. He frequently posts goofy but technically impressive projects on his Alex Lab YouTube channel, which has over 875,000 subscribers at the time of publication. Here you’ll find his epic builds, including hydrogen generators, Iron Man suits and, of course, his lightsaber, which produces an impressive three-foot-long plasma “blade” that can reach temperatures in excess of 5,072 degrees. Fahrenheit, according to a press. Release.

Plasma is the fourth (and least known) state of matter alongside solids, liquids and gases. It is a charged gas that behaves in some ways like a liquid. One of the most famous applications of plasma is in an experimental nuclear reactor, called a tokamak, where superheated plasma ions coalesce, literally creating nuclear fusion.

Another common plasma application is in specialized equipment called a plasma cutter. It is used to cut conductive materials like stainless steel that are too tough for almost any other method to slice through. Plasma cutting is much like reverse arc welding; in fact, it developed from plasma welding.

So how do you do what amounts to a massive, elongated plasma cutter that does not require additional solid conductive material to operate? Well you electrify a gas in place.

“The key component of my lightsaber is an electrolyzer. An electrolyzer is a device that can generate an enormous amount of hydrogen and oxygen and compress the gas to any pressure without a mechanical compressor,” Burkan says in the release. Guinness World Records press release Electrolyzers (US English spelling) are machines that separate hydrogen and oxygen atoms in water to create hydrogen fuel.

Photo credit: Alex Burkan/Guinness World Records

Photo credit: Alex Burkan/Guinness World Records

From there, Burkan made a burner powerful enough to turn both oxygen and hydrogen into high-temperature plasma that behaves like ionized flux. Basically, he had to electrify and ignite the two gases at a much higher temperature than an ordinary fire.

“Finally, the hardest job was to squeeze the entire gas delivery system into a lightsaber hilt,” Burkan explains in the release. The downsizing of hydrogen electrolysis is honestly an issue facing the entire hydrogen industry as the gas takes its place as one of the next great hopes for non-fossil fuels. If we can’t produce enough free hydrogen (in the chemical sense), people can’t use it to power cars or planes.

Burkan’s final lightsaber is really cool, but it doesn’t look as polished as the computer-generated imagery (CGI) or the practical effects that the star wars movies use for his lightsabers. This “blade” is much thinner, with more variations and jerks in the plasma flow; it looks more like a close-up of the sun’s surface than a smooth tube. This makes sense, because the sun is also a hydrogen plasma.

By making a fully retractable hydrogen lightsaber blade, Burkan transformed a classic plasma cutter into something much flashier. And the Force is with him.

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