The Star War movie series introduced the “Light-Sabre”, a Jedi’s weapon but it seems to have a wee problem according to an article in the SMH (Fairfax Press), in that if two combatents fought with their light-sabres, then when the sabres touch magnetic reconnection occurs releasing an enormous of energy which would vaporise both.
The astonishing thing is the belief that magnetic reconnection, a fundamental plasma physics process when plasmas with different magnetic fields collide, isn’t due to magnetic field lines reconnecting, but plasma double layers exploding when the two plasma collide.
Magnetic field lines are like topographic contour lines – imaginary lines drawn to represent the magnetic field graphically in modelling. You cannot cut topographic contour lines, nor can you cut magnetic field lines.
The belief arises from the observations of ‘magnetic tubes’ rising up from the solar photosphere to often plunge back, and frequently to reverse direction and return to their starting locations. This plasma behaviour puzzled me until I realised that the tube rising out of the photosphere was simply a Birkeland current carrying a high energy pulse along its pre-existing current that was in dark current mode but which would transform into more energetic glow or arc mode as the current density increased.
Magnetic flux-tubes are simply Birkeland currents, and it’s the apparent connecting and reconnecting of these electric currents from tripping into dark to glow mode that is the cause of this misunderstanding. Of course magnetohydrodynamic theory is also at fault, as its originator Hannes Alfven stated so on the occasion of his Nobel Laureate presentation.
And as often mentioned by the mainstream astrophysicists, ‘sure there are electric currents in space, but they don’t do anything’!
You don’t know whether to laugh or cry.