In an earlier missive I addressed some physical constraints to actually constructing a Jedi lightsaber. The task was formidable, not to say impossible. Perhaps some new physics will intervene to assist in the future, but for the moment, I am going to take the challenge to construct a lightsaber metaphorically. I will define the Dark Side of the Force and create a weapon to defend against that Dark Side. And strangely enough, I will be using bosons and fermions.

First we need to discover the lair of the Sith Lord and the Dark Side of the Force. Fortunately, one only needs to look at a few interesting correlations. My two axes are the Economic Freedom Ranking and crude oil production provided by the United States Department of Energy. With a little judicious editing, an abreviated table appears as follows. The economic index ranges from 1 being most free to 157 (North Korea). (For those interested, the top seven are Hong Kong (1), Singapore (2), Australia (3), United States (4), New Zealand (5), UK (6), and Ireland (7)).

Correlation Between Oil Revenue and Economic Freedom
Country Crude Production Ranking Ranking in Index of Economic Freedom Characteristics
Saudi Arabia 10.4 M bbl/day 85/157 Wahabi Islamic Fundamentalism
Russia 9.5 M bbl/day 120/157 Resurgent KGB, Socialist Power Elite
Venezuela 3.4 M bbl/day 144/157 Chavez, Totalitarian, Communist
Iran 2.7 M bbl/day 150/157 Islamic Fundamentalism
Nigeria 2.5 M bbl/day 124/157 Choppa offa your hands

While the correlation is not particularly inverse linear, e.g., Saudi Arabia ranks number one in oil production and revenue but is not the worst Economic Freedom ranking (after all, Kim Il Jung doesn’t produce any oil), when additional factors, such as the Saudi’s urban redevelopment plans are added to the mix, clusters definitely form. Clearly there seems to be a correlation to the use of oil revenues to prop up totalitarian despot regimes. Each of these producers represent the worst elements of the Dark Side of the Force. These are governments which deplete their natural resources on the backs of their populations to further narrow nationalistic aims benefitting only the power elite. “Let’s see: fear, anger, hate, suffering — yup all there.” The difference between these regimes and those listed at the top of the index is that free society governments, where their people are economically free, view their populations as resources, not impediments. And because of the requirements for energy, those free countries must make a pact with the Dark Side to secure that freedom.

So what if we had a weapon that would directly attack these Dark Forces at their most vulnerable point. Without oil revenues, these regimes would collapse overnight. Iran must actually import gasoline. Without petrodollars to spend, Iran would be reduced to selling crappy carpets to fund their Islamic Jihad. Russia, which experienced a brief surge of freedom before Putin, would deteriorate into pure organized crime verses the state sponsored kind.

What weapon is this? Energy independence! By all means, let’s continue with wind power and solar power, and even allow the playing with sawgrass and synthetic fuels; but the paramount effort should be placed in developing an energy source that can replace petroleum. Start with home heating. That is a straightforward application which affects non-discretionary fuel usage. Then let’s adapt that new source to transportation. We probably will not be able to do this directly and will have to convert to electricity first, suffering some loss of efficiency in the conversion, but when we are finished with this effort, petroleum will be reduced to feedstock status for plastics and the chemical industry — which we can supply domestically.

We did the Manhattan project, and the Moon Project. The United States can accomplish remarkable things with the application of the national will. Surely, these despot states are more of a threat than the chimera of a Nazi atomic bomb which started the Mahattan project, of the launch of Sputnik, which started the Space Age. We need to focus. The technologies are out there withering on the vine from inadaequate funding and attention.

When we have these developed, I suggest the entire scientific and political leadership of the United States gather and collectively flip the bird to Abdullah al-Saud, Vladimir Putin, Hugo Chavez, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Olusegun Obasanjo. And afterwards, as much as it pains me, convey and deliver the technology to our European (choke) and Asian allies. And oh, by the way, we do all of this AFTER we have all of our new generators and engines in production. [Might want to short oil futures also as a way to pay for the development.]

The lightsaber is the weapon of a Jedi, an elegant armament of a more civilized time

What could be more elegant that using their own petro-greed against them. Now that is a light saber!

One of our erstwhile Angrymen has challenged the techno-savy to come up with the design for a lightsaber. Being a somewhat techno-savy sort, I gave it some consideration.

The lightsaber is the weapon of the Jedi Knights and their battle against the Dark Side of the Force.

The lightsaber, according to the the Star Wars Databank, is a weapon with a handle which emits a beam of light, which can be used to deflect blaster (assumed energy) bolts, bullets, and when used properly, fence froissment and attaque au fer with the enemy Sith Lords. That last phrase essentially means that a beam of light can approach solidity when acting against another beam of light. Well—actually no.

The naive might conclude that, provided a powerful enough energy supply (located in the handle), that this might be possible, but light is composed of photons, which are bosons and behave with Einstein-Bose statistics. That is to say that you can stack as many of them as you want into as small of a space as you wish and everything is ok. Unfortunately, the Sith Lord’s lightsaber is also a bag of bosons and also has no problem stacking itself into the same space that your bag of bosons occupies. As a result of basic particle statistics, one lightsaber will always pass through another. So there goes the fancy fencing. Also, I am obligated to point out that energy blasters are also likely photons which obey Bose Einstein statistics. So no deflecting energy bolts either. Projectile weapons fare better.

Matter is composed of electrons and photons (and pesky little neutrons) which are fermions, i.e., they obey Fermi-Dirac statistics and as a consequence, no two of them can occupy the same energy state. Because of this matter has solidity and rigidity. Now a particle (bullet) careening toward your basic Jedi Knight, can be deflected by the lightsaber beam because the glob of fermions will have some coupling with the photons. The coupling is on the order of 1/137 so you need a really powerful beam of photons to create the scattering (most likely reverse Compton scattering), but at least it’s feasible. So Hollywood and George Lucas got it wrong (no suprise there).

Sorry, Angry Immigrant, can’t be done that way.