Star Wars isn’t the only sci-fi franchise with lightsabers. The plasma sabers in Pacific Rim: Uprising look like an upgrade to anything Luke or Vader might have been carrying around, not to mention that Gipsy Avenger is also armed with an upgraded gravity sling that can crush kaiju by aiming cars and buildings at them—but is this tech from an alternate future scientifically possible in our future?
Those plasma lightsabers wielded by the Jaegers, which level up their Star Wars predecessors by actually whipping at things that have just as many eyes as they do teeth, probably aren’t happening in this lifetime. Plasma may seem like the answer to the neon blades of light that could never be contained in this universe. This fourth state of matter starts to glow when the electrons are stripped from gas atoms.
Plasma can be contained and warped into shapes. It can also slice through the enemy with an intense electrical current that generates extreme heat (think several thousand degrees) and can turn metal to ooze. It would have no problem searing through the almost impregnable skin of mutant monsters, if they existed. All this sounds mind-blowing until you realize that a hypothetical plasma saber needs an insane electrical current flow to keep it alive. A power source that could handle that is beyond the reaches of technology. Even if that were possible, the plasma saber would need some kind of yet-nonexistent method of keeping the handle from incinerating your hand.
Then there’s the issue of plasma behaving like a hot gas by expanding and cooling. It won’t stay in the form it is manipulated into without something to keep it in place. Meaning, you’d need to contain it somehow. But. What if there were some other force that could control the glowing stuff?
Because plasma is made up of charged and often high-velocity particles, magnetic fields can manipulate it. Nuclear fusion research is joining forces with upcoming tech to use magnetic fields for superhot plasmas that would melt anything you tried to put them in. The only downside to this would be that your plasma beam would pass right through your enemy’s like a phantom blade.
Now about Danger’s gravity sling, which can aim an SUV at something’s face. Gravitational slingshots already use a spacecraft’s orbit to give it a speed boost or change its direction while saving propellant. HyperV Technologies’ Slingatron concept is looking to eliminate rocket fuel altogether by using spiral motion to generate centrifugal force that will launch spacecraft into low-Earth orbit and eventually even deflect asteroids. This could be the genius solution NASA and SpaceX have been waiting for to launch supplies for upcoming moon and Mars missions, which could travel at velocities up to 60,000 times the gravitational force on our planet’s surface. Human takeoffs via Slingatron are obviously not recommended, but that wouldn’t be problematic if you were trying to copy the Pacific Rim technology. The Slingatron is massive. The gravity sling in Danger’s robotic hand is huge, but not there yet. HyperV also hasn’t tweaked the design to fight off the extended family of Godzilla.
So are either of these things ever going to manifest in exactly the way they do in Pacific Rim? We can’t be sure. While plasma sabers and portable gravity slings could exist in some altverse, using these technologies for what we actually need in the quasi-near future takes priority over fighting off kaiju.