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Check out this MIT ‘lightsaber’ — it’s (not) the real deal

As part of a long-running joke, developers who run the Intranet database at MIT's Institute for Soldier Nanotechnology have listed a lightsaber as being available for testing.
As part of a long-running joke, developers who run the Intranet database at MIT's Institute for Soldier Nanotechnology have listed a lightsaber as being available for testing.Screenshot via Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies

If you're a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the force is with you.

As part of a long-running joke, the programmers who run the intranet at the school's Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies have listed a lightsaber as being available for testing to those working on special projects.

"At the press of a button, the energy contained within is liberated and forms as a shaft of pure energy about a meter long," according to ISN's equipment catalog. "The saber hums and scintillates with a distinct sound."

The lightsaber is manufactured by "Skywalker Enterprises," it says.

The ISN is a collaboration between MIT, the Army, and the nanotechnology industry. Its purpose is to help create innovative equipment and resources for soldiers in the field.

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With "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," the latest installment in the intergalactic sci-fi series, set to hit theaters next month, interest in the listing on ISN's internal site has spiked.

A screenshot image of the lightsaber was shared on Imgur, the photo-sharing website, this week. It was viewed thousands of times.

The listing claims researchers can rent out the lightsaber for $50 per hour, and can be trained by a professional in how to use the "elegant armament" correctly.

"To carry a lightsaber is an example of incredible skill and confidence," the description says.

Josh Freedman, ISN's assistant director for finance and administration, said he uses the listing for test runs when he's applying new code and updates to the lab's equipment database.

"Every now and then I get e-mails, and it's normally, 'I'd like to get trained on how to use the lightsaber,'" said Freedman, who admits he's an avid "Star Wars" fan himself.

One year, he said, an MIT researcher named "Yoda" contacted him about the weapon, he said.

But, of course, everyone — including Yoda — knows that the listing is a just a gag.

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"They know that lightsabers don't exist," Freedman said.

But for a school that's teeming with entrepreneurs and scientists, maybe the concept isn't so out-of-this-world.

"Some of the equipment we have is futuristic sci-fi stuff," said Freedman.


Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.