I usually think of Star Wars as space fantasy, while something like Star Trek (another franchise I love) is science fiction. Probably because things like the Force and the Jedi make Star Wars more mystical; there’s also the fact of sentient droids with emotions. Star Trek seems to be more fact-based, a celebration of what science can do, often with real-world science to fall back or speculate on. And a sentient android like Data provides endless fodder for moral debate and discussion. It’s one of the reasons I love Star Trek.
Star Wars is more mythical, a fairy tale, a story about heroes and villains, and good against evil. It just so happens to take place in a technologically advanced galaxy, where sentient droids are simply taken for granted. No one questions their “rights” (except L3–and good for her!) The science is secondary, and doesn’t necessarily need to be explained. That’s what I’ve always loved about Star Wars. I don’t have to worry if anything in particular is “possible.” It just is, okay? It’s all about expectations. I expect scientific inquiry and questions of ethics in Star Trek, but I don’t in Star Wars. I read somewhere that Star Trek is for the head, while Star Wars is for the heart, and while that’s kind of a simple generalization, for the most part it’s true, at least for me.
However, some people are curious about the science behind Star Wars, and luckily for them there are a few books out there on the subject. Here’s a couple of them that even I wouldn’t mind perusing:
How long before we get a Star Wars speeder off the ground? What exactly is the Force? How could Kylo Ren stop a blaster shot in mid-air? How could we live on a gas giant like Bespin, or a desert planet like Tatooine? Nature versus nurture: How does it play out in the making of Jedi? How much would it cost to build the Death Star?
These are just a few of the burning questions this book tries to answer, and they are questions I never knew I had until now. Based on some of the reviewer’s comments on Amazon, I wouldn’t expect hard science here, but for a layman and a Star Wars fan, I think it would be a fun read.
Again, this one seems to explore the possibilities of what Star Wars presents, rather than hard science, and for a fan like me (not science-oriented at all, in other words), that’s just fine. These books seem to be written by science professors having fun with all the what-if scenarios of Star Wars. This author posits that the movies are sometimes spot-on when it comes to physics, and other times new discoveries or some sort of advanced physics would be needed to explain it. But it’s all worth pursuing because science is about asking questions and how you go about finding answers. Sounds logical.
This one asks a host of similar questions like:
How might spaceships like the Millennium Falcon make the exhilarating jump into hyperspace?
* Could a single blast from the Death Star destroy an entire planet?
* How close are we to creating robots that look and act like C-3PO and R2-D2?
* Could light sabers possibly be built, and if so, how would they work?
* Do Star Wars aliens look like “real” aliens might?
* What kind of environment could spawn a Wookie?
* What would living on a desert planet like Tatooine be like?
* Why does Darth Vader require an artificial respirator?
* Can we access a “force” with our minds to move objects and communicate telepathically with each other?
This book is a bit older, from 2000, so perhaps not as up-to-date, but then again, physics is physics, right? I also know that science is constantly evolving, and there are breakthroughs everyday. Still, I think this one would be pretty entertaining as well.
It’s interesting to note that when A New Hope first came out, the science and technology contained within it were considered “impossible.” Pure fantasy (and George Lucas wasn’t particularly worried about scientific accuracy). But something interesting happened: the young people who grew up with Star Wars (as well as Star Trek) were inspired. They went into the sciences to explore the very scientific possibilities that these stories presented. And because of that, science is catching up with fiction in many ways. Pretty cool, huh?
How do you view the science in Star Wars? Need real-world explanations, or couldn’t care less? Comment below and we’ll talk about it!
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