Last updated December 21, 2017 at 4:21 pm
Update: This piece was first published in 2015 before the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Having (predictably) booked midnight screening tickets of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Casey invites you to join her on a trip down memory lane.
Confession time: I was a little late to the Star Wars party – I grew up in a Star Trek household, and the prequels didn’t exactly motivate me to dive deep into the Star Wars universe, even though I trusted the originals would be right up my ally. But the impending reboot was enough to motivate me to get up to speed – better late than never! – and now that I’m here I’m dancing on tables. By which I mean I have tickets to a midnight screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and I am out of the galaxy excited about it!
Falling for Star Wars as an adult with the full power of the internet behind me means I can learn every little thing there is to know about the films, which I will now share the best of, in no particular order – and don’t worry, this is a spoiler-free zone. I’m always the first to point out that the Star Wars franchise lives far more in the fantasy / Space Opera world, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of science among the fiction.
These are the links you’re looking for.
How to Build a Death Star
This video is actually all about asteroids – how they could be used to build a Death Star, how difficult it would be to actually fly through a field of them, and NASA’s cool plans to visit one by 2023. Guys, that’s only like eight years away.
Chillin’ with Chewie
This is a really fun and kind of dorky (in the fun way) series hosted by everyone’s favourite Wookie. Chewie visits Michigan State University scientists and engineers to find out about carbonite, holograms, droids, thrusters, and of course, lightsabers!
Can You Build a Real Lightsaber?
Speaking of lightsabers, this episode of Physics of the Impossible has to be the definitive guide to all things saber science. Physicist Michio Kaku is an awesome host – inquisitive but knowledgeable – as he takes you through each scientific concept of how lightsabers work in the movie, and how this could be adapted to the real world.
Could the Planets in Star Wars Actually Support Life?
Astrobiology nerds, this is the article for you. Combining speculations about the fictional planets with observations of our planet’s ecosystems, this is a fun look at just how plausible the alien creatures really are.
NASA Would Take C-3P0 to Space but not R2-D2 or BB-8
Okay, so this video starts with a pretty typical scientist buzzkill – don’t listen to him BB-8! You’re flawless! – but it quickly picks up with heaps of cool info about the real robots NASA is currently using and building to help space exploration.
How the BB-8 Toy Came to Be
See? Adorable. Anyone who wants to get me this for Christmas is more than welcome. I also love how this was developed as part of Disney’s innovation Accelerator program – hopefully the sort of success story we’ll start seeing more of in the Innovation Nation. #ideasboom
I cannot talk this article up enough. It will make you wish that you could jump in an (ILM created) DeLorean and live out the glory days of special effects powerhouse Industrial Light and Magic – not that their days are any less glorious now. But if this oral history is to be believed, they used to pump in extra oxygen, crank the Fleetwood Mac, take a lunch-time swim in a water tank, then use an old airplane emergency slide as a slippery dip, in between just casually revolutionising movie-making.
The Weaponised Nostalgia of Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Let’s round things out with some social science about the marketing machine behind this blockbusting franchise. They must be doing something right, with The Force Awakens absolutely toppling pre-sales records, and set to make probably a squillion dollars. This is Disney’s world, and we’re just living in it.
And here’s a few extra non-science-y treats just for fun:
Carrie Fisher Dishes on Return to Star Wars
Carrie Fisher is an international treasure and I never want her to stop telling it like it is, but the star of the show is her dog, Gary Fisher. He sits in on this interview with his tongue stuck out the entire time, it’s the cutest thing ever.
Harrison Ford Talks about Star Wars: The Force Awakens in a Hotdog Costume
Does what it says on the tin. My favourite moment @ 3:16
And I’m just going to leave this right here
— Star Wars (@starwars) December 5, 2015