Skip to main content

A Physicist, An Engineer And A Cosmologist Discuss The Science Of ‘Star Wars’

Photo caption: Kylo Ren (played by Adam Driver) leads a group of stormtroopers in search of ...

Photo credit: Lucasfilm/Walt Disney Studio

Kylo Ren (played by Adam Driver) leads a group of stormtroopers in search of a map hidden inside a droid.

We're sorry. This audio clip is no longer available. A transcript has been made available.

Is it possible that light could be contained in a lightsaber? Could a weapon destroy a planet? How long would it take to hop around a galaxy, even one far, far away?

It's not uncommon for "Star Wars" fans to ponder questions inspired by the films.

Jon Kaufman, an experimental cosmologist at UC San Diego, said he did a standard calculation to determine if anything could destroy a planet.

“You would need the entire energy output of the sun for a week to be able to disintegrate the earth,” Kaufman told KPBS Midday Edition. “(It’s) improbable but not necessarily impossible.”

The theory surrounding “The Force” may be pure imagination but it brings excitement, said Steve Snyder, a physicist and CEO of the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.

“It’s that hope and intent to be able to do it,” Snyder said. “It’s an impossible thing. But how can we make it possible?”

And the world is making headway when it comes to creating robots. R2-D2 is a major character in the “Star Wars” films and the latest film unveils a new robot, BB-8.

Greg Schumsky, an industrial and product designer, said scientists are working to create robots with the artificial intelligence of characters like R2-D2.

“The biggest thing we have right now, home-wise, is the Roomba,” said Schumsky, referring to the vacuum that works independently. “I would consider that an insect robot.”


San Diego News Matters podcast branding

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.