Physics and Star Wars: Wikis

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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.[1]

Contents

Specific phenomena

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Tatooine’s twin suns

Tatooine's twin suns, Tatoo I and Tatoo II

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope contains a scene where Luke Skywalker stands and watches the double sunset of Tatooine’s twin suns.

In the past scientists thought that planets would be unlikely to form around binary stars. However, recent simulations indicate that planets are just as likely to form around binary star systems as single-star systems.[2] 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 (several AU). Tatooine appears to be of the other type — a "close" binary, where the stars are very close, and the planets orbit their common center of mass. Exoplanet researchers' simulations indicate that planets form frequently around close binaries, 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.[2] In studies looking for dusty disks—where planet formation is likely—around binary stars, such disks were found in wide or narrow binaries, or those whose stars are more than 50 or less than three AU apart, respectively. Intermediate binaries, or those with between 3 and 50 AU between them, had no dusty disks.[3]

Asteroid field in Episode V

In Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, 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. About the only way for an asteroid belt to maintain itself would be to "balance destructive high-speed collisions with constructive soft collisions", but it is unclear whether this is happening in the film.[4]

In contrast to Star Wars, the ship featured in 2001: A Space Odyssey, (Discovery One)'s course took it directly through the asteroid belt in novel, without real fear of collision on the part of the mission organizers. However, our asteroid belt is far less dense and several real spacecraft have passed through it without harm.[4]

Flight dynamics

The flight dynamics in space closely mirror the familiar dynamics from flying in Earth's atmosphere. On Earth, fixed-wing aircraft must make banked turns because they use air pressure to operate. Yet, in the airless vacuum of space in Star Wars, the Millennium Falcon always banks. Physicist Lawrence M. Krauss says this is for a simple reason: "it looks good."[5]

See also

References

  1. ^ Lovgren, Stefan (June 3, 2005). "The "Star Wars" Worlds: More Science Than Fiction?". National Geographic News. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/06/0603_050603_starwars_2.html. Retrieved 2009-11-13.  
  2. ^ a b Schirber, Michael (17 May 2005). "Planets with Two Suns Likely Common". Space.com. http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/050517_binary_stars.html. Retrieved 2009-11-13.  
  3. ^ "Sunset on Tattooine". Astrobiology Magazine, NASA. March 31, 2007. http://www.astrobio.net/pressrelease/2286/sunset-on-tatooine. Retrieved 2009-11-13.  
  4. ^ a b Cavelos, Jeanne (2000). The Science of Star Wars. New York: S.t. Martin's Griffin. pp. 15-16. ISBN 0312263872. OCLC QB500.C38 1999.  
  5. ^ Krauss, Lawrence M. (1997). Beyond Star Trek: Physics from Alien Invasions to the End of Time. New York, Y: BasicBooks. pp. 15-16. ISBN 978-0060977573. OCLC QB500.K64 1997.  

External links


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