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Super Saiyan Science: How To Throw A Kamehameha Wave

Power Up with Dragon Ball Z


Dragon Ball Z is an awesome Japanese anime television series that first appeared in 1989.  It tells the story of Goku, who along with his companions, defends the Earth against a collection of villains ranging from intergalactic space fighters and conquerors, unnaturally powerful androids and nearly indestructible magical creatures.  Goku’s Kamehameha Wave, or Turtle Devastation Wave is his main weapon of choice against his enemies.  It is a ball of energy created within his hands, that he then shoots out at a distance, debilitating his foe.

The Kamehameha Wave


YouTube Channel, The Film Theorists, put together a short movie that illustrates the science behind the Kamehameha wave. What exactly IS this wave and can we please one day be able to shoot energy balls out of our own hands??  The narrator gives an explanation of the concept behind the wave. It is named after the Hawaiian King, Kamehameha.  It generally involves the character gathering “Ki” energy between their hands to form an energy ball. That then gets blasted out in a beam. Ki Energy is life force that exists within everyone.  It exists in the center of the body.

Chi Rules Everything Around Me

It’s similar to the Chinese word Qi, or “Chi” which is a basic principle of Chinese medicine and martial arts.  The word literally translates to “breath,” “air,” or “gas,” and is thought to be a life force or energy that exists in everything.


Chi has a real place in the world, and here is what we know about it. It’s difficult to define, its a mental or spiritual energy, can heal the wounded, or strengthen a fighter. Even go so far as to give “force” like powers.   No real science backs this concept up though.

Plasma Makes it Possible

Keep Chi in mind as we continue.  The Kamehameha wave is composed of energy, but also has mass. It is a form of matter. Matter can be broken down to “solid,” “liquid” and “gas” but there is also “plasma” which the universe is 99% composed of. Plasma is a heated gas. Plasma is found in fluorescent light bulbs, lighting, and the giant hot ball in the sky we call the sun.

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So the way plasma is created is, you take a gas, and heat it up.  The electrons and the atoms in the gas get so excited that they start to break away. You end up with a soup of negatively charged electrons floating alongside positively charged ions. The air (which is a gas) inside of Goku’s hands becomes superheated, and it creates plasma. He is harnessing his body’s “Ki” or “Chi” power and the electrical potential of that Ki.  That electricity then, will super heat the gas to create the plasma.

The Energy to Create Plasma

Plasma typically requires 33 kilovolts (of electricity) per centimeter, to form. Once its created, it can be sustained with only 1/10th of that energy.  (3 kilovolts).  A plasma arc is created next to the energy source, but once it’s generated, it can stretch to 10 times the distance.  That’s how Goku is able to shoot that plasma out to such a great distance away from him.  Plasma Globes are a great source to explore this phenomenon.  Plasma is becoming something that will be utilized more often in the near future.  Boeing recently patented the use of “plasma shields” for instance.  The future is now!

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How to Build a Real Life Lightsaber


Lightsabers are without a doubt one of the coolest weapons that the Star Wars universe, and science fiction in general, has given us. They hum with the power of the force, they can be used defensively to deflect blaster bolts and can cut through virtually anything from metal doors to your enemy’s body parts. There aren’t many of us out there who don’t know the joy of a flashlight lightsaber duel  or the importance of making the right sound effects!

In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren introduces a new version of this classic weapon, the Crossguard Lightsaber. In doing so, he has reignited the age-old question, how can we create a real world lightsaber that actually works?

The Crystal

Although it is not obvious from looking at the weapon, crystals are an integral part of every lightsaber. According to the Star Wars animated series, The Clone Wars, young Jedi knights go to the planet Ilum to harvest crystals that would be used within the hilt of the lightsabers. In fact, the world’s first solid-state laser, the ruby laser, uses a synthetic ruby crystal for the creation of light.

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A ‘Blade’ Made From Light Or Laser?

Given their name, it seems logical to say that lightsabers have blades made from light or at least some type of laser, right? Wrong. While laser technology is constantly improving and lasers can cut through materials, there are several reasons they wouldn’t work as the blade of a lightsaber.

Firstly, the beam would continue on endlessly unless stopped by an obstacle. You could always interrupt a beam with a mirror but not only would that reduce the lightsaber’s effectiveness in battle, you would also lose the elegance of the weapon if you had to add a structure to hold the mirror up.

From a more practical stand-point, several kilo-watts of power would be required to create the type of laser that can cut through metal doors and arms. A laser with this sort of power would require a very large unit to supply the required energy as well as a cooling system to ensure that the user’s hand doesn’t melt off during battle.

Lastly, from a showmanship perspective, a duel between two laser-based lightsabers would be quite a letdown. Instead of clashing into each other, the beams would simply pass through each other and because lasers focus light so sharply, you would only actually be able to see the blade if you were looking directly down the axis of the laser.



A ‘Blade’ Made From Plasma

Dr. Gianluca Sarri, a lecturer in the school of mathematics and physics at Queen’s University Belfast thinks that the lightsaber’s blades may be made of heated gas. When gas gets extremely hot, so hot that it is broken down into its fundamental components of electrons and nuclei, it forms the fourth state of matter called plasma. The plasma of certain gases when super-heated even give off certain colors, for example, the red and orange of the Sun is made up of hydrogen and helium plasma. If you were a Sith, you would most likely use one of these elements in your lightsaber. Whereas if you were a Jedi with a green lightsaber, you would have chlorine plasma.

While it is unlikely that they will be selling plasma lightsabers alongside the rest of the Star Wars merchandise, it is exciting to know that in theory, we could have a working lightsaber one day. Until then, we’ll just have to keep coming up with our own versions.