5 Big Questions About the Science of ‘Star Wars’


The Dark Side and the Light Side. Credit: BagoGames/flickr CC BY 2.0

Flavio Fenton of the School of Physics responds—and offers a few questions of his own:

“When the Death Star’s superlaser destroyed Princess Leia’s home planet of Alderaan, Obi-Wan Kenobi delivered one of the saga’s most famous quotes: ‘I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.’

“The death of the entire planet sent shock waves through the Force, weakening those who were able to feel them. That included Obi-Wan, who briefly became faint. This action at a distance is explained in physics by what is called a field. For example, we are well aware of gravitational and electromagnetic fields. Objects that are affected by a field carry “something” that allows them to interact. For gravity, it is mass. For electricity, it is charge.

“Because there is a Light and a Dark Side of the Force, a field would require that we assume two types of charges, similar to positive and negative charges in the electromagnetic force. Here’s an example: Darth Vader can strangle people by using the Force without physical contact. That means his victims would have to carry both types of charges in equal amounts, and the effects of the two types cancel each other. How does it happen?

“One explanation is that the dark force Vader unleashes attracts the light charge of his victim, leaving the person unbalanced with an excess of dark charge. In this case, all the dark charges then try to come together along the neck, squeezing and nearly choking the person to death. This means that unlike electric charge, particles with equal force charges attract and repel when they have different charges. This could explain why a neutral force charge is common to all objects. It could also explain why the Dark Side has an addictive aspect: when a Jedi turns to the Dark Side, it’s a slippery slope filled with continuous evil.

“Going just a bit deeper for my fellow physics fanatics—if we were to study the Force from a subatomic level, we should consider that, like any other interaction we know in nature, there exist force carriers. These are particles that give rise to forces between other particles. For example, the electromagnetic force between two electrons can be explained by the exchange of virtual photons and gravitation by the exchange of virtual gravitons. Therefore the two Force charges should have a carrier. Should we call them Jedi-nos? Should the Large Hadron Collider search for these new particles now that it has found the Higgs particle?”


Republished from Futurity.org as a derivative work under the Attribution 4.0 International license. Original article posted to Futurity by  .

Featured Image Credit: angelo Yap/flickr CC BY 2.0

Article Image Credits: 
R2D2 & C3PO models, Marc Lagneau/flickr CC BY ND 2.0
Luke Skywalker & Darth Vader, JD Hancock/flickr CC BY 2.0
The Dark Side and the Light Side, BagoGames/flickr CC BY 2.0

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