People always tend to wonder whether their fictional creations are possible in real life. This is most often done with science-fiction franchises since they are – to a degree – based on possibilities rather than pure fiction and fantasy. In this article, I am going to discuss the possibility of Star Wars blaster guns being made and used in real life.
How do blasters work?
In the Star Wars universe, a blaster is a rather wide term for any sort of long-range gun-like weapon that fires bursts of particle beam energy called “blaster bolts” from a replaceable power pack. Blasters can range from simple, handheld guns to large starship-mounted canons as long as they are based on the same mechanism.
So, how exactly do the blasters work? Instead of firing a coherent beam of light like the archaic laser, the blaster fired a compressed, focused, high-energy particle beam that was very destructive; these beams are most commonly called “bolts.” Generating the bolt relied on a gas cartridge filled with an energy-rich blaster gas (typically Tibanna) and a power pack.
When the blaster was fired, a small amount of gas moved from the cartridge through the Heter valve into the gas conversion enabler chamber, commonly called the XCiter. In this chamber, the power pack energized the gas before it passed into the actuating blaster module, where the now extremely high-energy gas was transformed into a compressed beam of intense energy particles coupled with intense light.
The particle beam was then focused through a prismatic crystal or a similar device, which generated a deadly high-energy particle beam fired from the emitter nozzle as a bolt of glowing energy.
The color of the bolt depended on the gas used and the type of focusing device and could vary from red to blue to orange to white.
A side effect of firing blasters was the gas conversion enabler heating up as gas was energized by the power pack, which could cause blasters to overheat and sometimes even explode. Additionally, a small amount of ozone was emitted as a trace product of the bolt emerging from the emitter nozzle, giving blaster bolts a distinctive smell that Han Solo once described as being like burnt meat.
Most personal blasters had two kinds of ammunition: a gas cartridge and a power cell. Blaster gas cartridges could typically provide up to five hundred shots before needing replacement. Most blaster power packs could supply energy for up to one hundred shots.
Are Star Wars blasters possible?
So, now that we know the exact mechanism, we can discuss whether the blasters are possible. To state it frankly, our technological knowledge at this stage still makes it impossible for a blaster to exist at this time. Yet, blasters function based on known laws of physics, and it is therefore not impossible to entertain the possibility that, one day, they might be made.
In an extensive study published online, Rhett Allain discussed the speed of blaster shots in the Original Trilogy. Although that aspect is not really important for this article, he did come up with two interesting conclusions:
- A Jedi deflecting blaster bolts with a lightsaber is about the same as a baseball player hitting a pitched ball.
- Playing with Nerf guns and plastic lightsabers in the backyard isn’t too terribly different than the movie.
Namely, he deduced that the speed of a blaster bolt is around 34.9 m/s (78 mph), around the speed of a baseball pitch. On the other hand, Nerf gunshots move at a speed of approximately 10 m/s, meaning that the difference is really not that large. This is actually important because it solves one major issue related to possible real-life blasters, showing that the firing mechanism is not overly complicated and that the speed is not really unachievable.
This brings us to the tricky part. Our current technology enables us to make a mechanism that could fire a small amount of plasma using a magnetic accelerator or something similar. It wouldn’t be the exact same mechanism as described above, but it would be fairly similar. And here’s our issue – we don’t know how to make it work.
Namely, we could perhaps make such a bolt at this moment, but it would probably spread around and work more like a flamethrower than a blaster bolt or a bullet. It seems simple, but at this stage of development, we don’t even know how to start making such a device, let alone make it functional.
Electromagnetic weapons have been discussed as a possibility, but although they use a relatively similar mechanism, it’s really not helpful in constructing a blaster. We have the basic mechanism, but we don’t have anything else. First, we’d need to form the plasma into a stable bullet-like structure and make it fire, but we are still far away from that.
So, no, Star Wars blasters are not possible in real life as of this moment, but the fact that they do not really break the laws of physics and use relatively familiar mechanisms gives us at least some hope that they might be possible in the future.
What do you think about the possibility of having Star Wars blasters in the future? I would like to hear your thoughts in the comments below!