The Physics of Space Battles: Star Wars Would Be Better Off With Muskets Than Lasers

Monday, 29 September 2014 - 2:40PM
Physics
Monday, 29 September 2014 - 2:40PM
The Physics of Space Battles: Star Wars Would Be Better Off With Muskets Than Lasers

How realistic are the space battles in Star Wars? Not very, according to the latest video from the PBS Youtube series, It's Okay to Be Smart. 

 

 

[Credit: PBS]

 

"Remember in space, no one can hear you scream... about how scientifically inaccurate that space battle is."

 

In this video, comedian Joe Hanson explains that the battles depicted in films like Star Wars violate the fundamental tenets of Newtonian physics, and even basic logic. For example, it's common knowledge that fuel is a limited resource, but spaceships in film and television burn through that fuel willy-nilly, rather than making any effort to conserve it. 

 

And using lasers as weapons? First, lasers would be invisible to the naked eye in space, and furthermore, they are extremely difficult to focus over long distances. "Honestly, if you want to destroy a planet, you're probably better off throwing an asteroid at it or something. Heavy thing moving fast make spaceship go boom."

 

"In some ways, realistic space combat would be closer to the 18th century than it is today ... imagine days-long communications delays and battles that are fought with cannons and musket balls — except, it's happening in space," Hanson explains. I don't know about you, but I would watch that movie. 

Science
Space
Physics