Samuel L. Jackson was definitely on to something when he requested that his character Mace Windu’s lightsaber be purple from George Lucas during the time of the Star Wars prequels’ filming. “I’m like the second baddest Jedi in the universe next to Yoda,” Jackson said, also noting he wanted his lightsaber to be purple “so [he] could find [himself] in that big fight scene. There’s like 300 lightsabers, and I’m like, ‘There I am, right there.'”
And now there’s scientific evidence to suggest Jackon’s preference in lightsaber color might not just be cosmetic. According to a study conducted by Luke Willcocks, from the Centre for Interdisciplinary Science at the University of Leicester, purple lightsabers are the most powerful lightsaber overall and red lightsabers, wielded exclusively by the Sith, are the lowest on the power scale.
To reach his conclusion, Willcocks first examined the energy of Qui-Gon Jinn’s green lightsaber in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace:
He examined a scene from the film in which the character, played by actor Liam Neeson, attempts to melt a hole in a blast door which blocks his route.
Assuming the door is made out of the fictional material in the Star Wars universe ‘Doonium’, often used to build spacecrafts, Luke factored in the initial temperature, melting point, final temperature and mass of the metal door, concluding that the power output of Qui-Gon’s standard green lightsaber would be 6.96MW (megawatts) in order to get through it in the time shown in the film – only two orders of magnitude smaller than the power output of small nuclear power generators.
To give you an idea of what sort of power outut 6.96MW entails, according to Wikipedia, 3 MW is the mechanical power output of a diesel locomotive while 8 MW is the “peak power output of the MHI Vestas V164, the world’s largest offshore wind turbine.”
Using the calculated power of the green lightsaber as a baseline, Willcocks went on to determine the power output of the other iconic Jedi laser sword colors:
Luke worked on the assumption that lightsabers produce pure photonic energy and that the different colour variants of lightsaber are all the same length of 91cm and width of 4cm.
He then set about calculating the power output of different lightsaber colours based on energy output and wavelength and how long it would take for them to melt through the door.
He concluded that shorter wavelengths would result in a more powerful lightsaber overall, with the lightsabers taking the following amount of time to melt through the door:
· Red – 14.00 seconds
· Yellow – 12.00 seconds
· Green – 11.00 seconds
· Blue – 9.60 seconds
· Purple – 8.20 seconds
Now all we need to do is get our hands on some rare kyber crystals to see if young padawan Luke Willcocks was on to something.
Do Willcock’s findings have any bearing on the battles in the upcoming Star Wars: The Last Jedi or any of the movies for that matter? Sound off in the comments.