Science and Star Wars

The Death of Admiral OzzelAs Star Wars fever heats up toward its inevitable pandemic in 2015, when J. J. Abrams is slated to release the yet-untitled Chapter VII, the first symptoms are already apparent over at Wired Science, where physics professor Rhett Allain reflects on his Reddit AMA session discussing the science of the cinematic saga. Actually, he’s giving out homework:

• How hot is a light saber? (from roguepublichealth) I think you have to first figure out what a light saber actually is and why it glows.

• How much material would be needed to build the Death Star (from astanisic) You will obviously need some estimates here. If you want a second question, how long would it take to put this Death Star together. You can answer for both the first (Episode IV) and second (Episode VI) Death Stars – which are different sizes.

The physics of choking someone to deathAnd so on. In truth, it’s not one of his better Dot Physics posts, but only because he’s asking the questions and not explaining the answers. For instance, there is more to learn from his consideration of the vital question, “How much does Darth Vader weigh?”

That said, Allain is not the only Wired geek on a Star Wars trip these days. Spencer Ackerman, blogging for Danger Room, the magazine’s national security blog, gives some consideration to Darth Vader’s imperial failure at Hoth:

The Battle of HothHow did the Galactic Empire ever cement its hold on the Star Wars Universe? The war machine built by Emperor Palpatine and run by Darth Vader is a spectacularly bad fighting force, as evidenced by all of the pieces of Death Star littering space. But of all the Empire’s failures, none is a more spectacular military fiasco than the Battle of Hoth at the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back.

From a military perspective, Hoth should have been a total debacle for the Rebel Alliance ….

The verdict, essentially, is such that the half-mechanical Sith Lord is lucky the Emperor didn’t Force-choke him to death, as Vader did the unfortunate Admiral Ozzel.

I have a feeling this is just the beginning. Indeed, we can look forward to another two years of geekulation as the world breathlessly awaits a release date.

Meanwhile, we can all get back to wondering about those Han Solo rumors.


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