Physics and Star Wars

Physics and Star Wars

The science fantasy interstellar epic "Star Wars" uses science and technology in its settings and storylines, although they are not considered "hard" science fiction. The series has showcased many technological concepts, both in the movies and in the "Expanded Universe" of novels and comics.

The "Star Wars" movies are a vehicle for entertainment and their primary aim is to deliver drama, not scientific knowledge. Many of the on-screen technologies created or borrowed for the "Star Wars" universe were used mainly as plot devices or as aesthetic elements, and not as elements of the story in their own right.

The iconic status that "Star Wars" has gained in popular culture allows it to be used as an accessible introduction to real scientific concepts. Many of the features or technologies used in the "Star Wars" universe are impossible, according to current theory. However, the process of understanding why they are considered impossible can educate people while simultaneously entertaining them. For example, planets in "Star Wars" are mostly monolithic, containing a single climate or condition on all of their surface, whether it be the equator or the poles. A simple 'visit' on a planet is almost always representative to the conditions pertaining to the rest of the planet.

pecific phenomena

Tatooine’s twin suns

"" contains a scene where Luke Skywalker stands and watches the double sunset of Tatooine’s twin suns.

Of the 242 Exoplanets currently known, about 20 or so actually orbit binary star systems. Specifically, they orbit what are known as "wide" binary star systems where the two stars are fairly far apart (a few AU). Tatooine presumably is of the other type - a "close" binary, whereby the stars are very close, and the planets orbit their common center of mass. Many planets are now presumed to orbit binary star systems, though gravitational effects from the dual star system tend to make them very difficult to find with current doppler and transit methods of planetary searches. [ [ - Planets with Two Suns Likely Common ] ]

Asteroid field in "Episode V"

In "", after the Battle of Hoth, the "Millennium Falcon" is pursued by imperial ships through a dense asteroid field. The chunks of rock in the field are moving at rapid speeds, constantly colliding, and densely packed. Ordinarily, an asteroid field or belt is unlikely to be so densely packed with large objects, because collisions reduce large objects to rubble that then eventually aggregates into planetoids by mutual attraction. Such a densely packed field "could" exist if it is either “young and transient” or “dominated by an external force”; there are a few clues that either might be happening in this scene of the movie. [Star Wars Technical Commentaries, at [] . Retrieved 16 July 2006.]

In contrast to "Star Wars", the ship featured in "", (Discovery One)'s course took it directly through the asteroid belt in , without real fear of collision on the part of the mission organizers.


"Star Wars" has various action sounds in space that the characters react to and are apparently aware of. But sound, as a pressure wave, must propagate through some form of matter. Since space is vacuous, it cannot actually carry sound waves. Two explanations have been posited. First, it is possible that the various ships’ deflector shields, when hit with radiation from explosions or blasters, cause the ships themselves to vibrate, producing sound. Second, the audio may be synthetically generated by ships’ sensor systems. Producing such sound would be beneficial because humans naturally react to their environment. It would also be an efficient use of a pilot’s limited senses during combat.Star Wars Technical Commentaries, at [] . Retrieved 16 July 2006.] Similar systems have been proposed for real world vehicles to audibly alert a driver or pilot to something not in their field of vision, for example if there were a car in the driver's 'blind spot' the car could transmit an engine noise over the car's entertainment system from the appropriate direction.

One line points to some or all of the sound portrayals being synthesized for the benefit of the pilots. In the radio dramatization of "A New Hope", Han Solo tells Luke Skywalker:

:"Your sensors'll give you an audio simulation for a rough idea of where those fighters are when they're not on your screen. It'll sound like they're right there in the turret with you."

ee also

*Physics and Star Trek
*Star Trek versus Star Wars


External links

* [ Star Wars Technical Commentaries]

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