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Nantel is the head of the Laser Micromachining Facility at Photonics Research Ontario, a government funded research institute. His work involves cutting objects by focusing laser beams on them. Nantel agrees that a laser sword without a fixed length could be a bit of a liability. "If you were in a bread and circuses type situation in an arena, the characters would kill every one," he points out.
"Laser beams are parallel rays of light - they'll go very far at the same intensity. That's what they're good for," begins Nantel. "If you put a lens in the way, you can bend the rays of light so that they converge to a focal point. After that the rays start diverging. The intensity will get weaker and weaker the further you go from your focus."