# Hyperspeed travel looks wrong: Leicester students

Sorry, special effects people, you got it wrong: if the Millennium Falcon can actually do the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs*, Han Solo and his passengers won’t see the stars stretching by. In fact, they won’t see the stars at all. In addition to slaughtering the inhabitants of the solar system at their destination, the …

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1. #### That blooper always annoyed me...

...even at the age of 12. I didn't know what a parsec exactly was, but I knew damned well it was a unit of length not frakking speed. Buh! Too much Heinlein at a young age I s'pose (Have Space Suit, Will Travel springs to mind here - it actually contains Dr E's equation for special relativity. In a book for 'young adults'. Harry Potter, eat yer heart out. I'm rambling now, sorry...

1. #### Did someone

Did someone actually explain to these students that Star Wars is a film and that artistic licence has been used?

Why haven't they been working on something more important?

1. #### Re: Did someone

Do you know what travelling at .99999995%c looks like?

The fact they used a science fiction film just makes it more accessible...no point doing the science if you can't relate what you find to the normal person.

1. #### Re: Did someone

@CB

0.99999995c = 99.999995%c

1. #### Re: That blooper always annoyed me...

Me too. In fact I was so riled I just wanted the next significant thing for Han to do would be to shoot someone first.

1. #### Re:I just wanted the next significant thing for Han to do would be to shoot someone first..

ROFL. Good one.

2. #### Re: Did someone

But they are not travelling at 0.99999c

They are using hyperspace. Most describe it as knocking a hole to a slightly different universe with slightly different laws of physics and/or shorter gaps between the corresponding points in our space.

Do the students have a model for that?

3. #### @Chris Beach

Actually, this is has been known for a very long time. My PhD in Physics was almost 30 years ago. I was in graduate school when Star Wars came out, and that was something everyone (in physics) went through since it was so obvious that George got it wrong.

4. #### Do you know ...

how the Millenium Falcon was powered and propelled? No? Then it wasn't important. In fact, are those actually clear ports on the MF or are they repeater screens? If the latter then how would you know what they would show? I would agree that a "starbow" would be a cool effect, but seriously.

2. #### Re: Did someone

Artistic license means you can say that your spaceship goes faster than any spaceship is capable of, or that your main character can really jump that far and swing around a pole and still shoot straight.

It doesn't account for a script line which basically says that someone is "3 litres tall", or "wider than a cheetah's top speed". It's an error. And I don't see a lot of time wasted on it, but it's certainly wrong.

Part of the filmmaker's job is to suspend disbelief and make us think we are "there". Someone saying something completely nonsensical, stupid and wrong and NOBODY present in the movie questioning it does the opposite. We all just go "What? Did I hear that right?" and miss a minute of the film while we all laugh at it.

And, literally, the fix was to get someone in who knew the tiniest bit about space (I mean, literally, even a student spots the error!) on your space-themed movie and have them look things over. On a multi-million dollar budget, I'm sure you could hire, say, a PhD for a day just to look over your script.

This is basic diligence when writing scripts, also. Star Trek (the other nerd-franchise that I don't watch) used to have the script-writers write "insert techno-babble here" and then they'd pass it off to a real scientist who would insert the bits about Heisenberg Compensators etc. (which is what artistic license REALLY allows). It costs nothing, it aids in the suspension of disbelief, it stops you looking like an idiot, and it stops making X% of your fans CRINGE every time they hear the line.

If you want an example of this in the modern day - try getting something wrong in The Big Bang Theory. It would be stupid, and embarrassing but we still would give you an awful lot of artistic license when in comes to most stuff. But even Howard using the wrong unit, unless it was a plot element and picked up on by the other characters, would jar in people's heads and make them forget they are watching entertainment - and that's the ONLY job you have if you making TV or films.

I find it a real bugbear of mine that films where people do incredibly stupid things for no reason other than to support a badly structured plot really annoy me. It makes me switch off and not watch the film again. This is on a par with the "Oh, the chainsaw murderer is after us, so we'll all split up, not call the police, not prepare a defensive weapon, hide out in a convenient abandoned cabin, get killed off one-by-one through our own stupidity and separation, and then the last one will run through an empty, dark forest they don't know late at night while they know the murderer is outside and inevitably trip over something (and only then will we realise that the weird one in the group was the murderer all along). Then we might 'capture' the murderer, and lock him in a room with a nice large window and convenient replacement weapons."

By comparison, say, Aliens: "I say we take off and nuke the site from orbit." Good man. Let's go. Even "The Thing": Let's gather everyone in a room, aim guns at them, formulate some sort of test and burn the hell out of whatever one turns out to be the alien (or just wait forever guarding them if we can't find out) - about the only "odd" point of that movie is locking a man they think is going insane in an outside hut while it all goes on, which is perfectly feasible in the circumstances, but a little odd that they forget about him so much.

You have to "believe" in the characters. The ones who do stupid things (and, let's face it, that line is there SPECIFICALLY to show off how fast his ship is, and fails to do that and everyone he speaks to takes it utterly seriously), you can't believe in.

1. #### Re: Did someone

I find it a real bugbear of mine that films where people do incredibly stupid things for no reason other than to support a badly structured plot really annoy me. It makes me switch off and not watch the film again...

...or else check to see if there's an MST3K version. (;^>

Actually, out of nearly all the sci-fi movies I've ever seen, 2001 is pretty much the only one where the filmmakers did such an awesome job of "getting it right" that I actually didn't have to suspend disbelief -- except perhaps for The Slab, and the final scenes ("Jupiter And Beyond The Infinite"), of course -- and even then, it was so different from your standard-issue sci-fi movie alien encounter that suspending disbelief was a fairly easy job. They weren't green, ugly, slimy, murderous, or any of the usual crap. The aliens and their artifacts in 2001 were presented in a way that "made sense" in the context of suspended disbelief.

2. #### WAY off the mark

A nice rant, but unfortunately a load of typing wasted.

Artistic license also allows you to have a character who is a bit of a Wide Boy, prone to making boastful claims some of which may be exaggerated or just plain bullsh*t, potentially from a place of ignorance.

Like the dick down the pub who says his car has over 200 torque when he means horsepower but is too stupid to a) know the difference or b) realise that the people he is talking to will know more than him and easily spot his bullsh*t.

That line establishes that Han Solo is boastful and for all you know it also deliberately identifies him as less well informed about units of measure than you might expect.

Does Luke know and internally peg this Solo character is a bit of a douche ?

Maybe he does, maybe he doesn't. Or maybe Luke doesn't know any better either and is quietly impressed.

But either way, it doesn't affect the story one bit - whether based on the "parsec" bullsh*t or simply the fact that this Solo dude is a swaggering boastful, smug S.O.B, Luke has his opinion of Han right from the start.

The "techno babble" in Star Trek was not passed off to scientists (tho that may have been the idea originally), it was simply handled by script writers who had a knack for dreaming up credible SOUNDING psuedo-scientific lingo, allowing the scripts to be written with story and character as the primary focus without the writers getting bogged down in the "science bit". Science bits which - again - weren't relevant to the STORY, but just had to sound plausible.

Big Bang Theory - a show about science and knowledgeable scientists damned sure better get it right, obviously. But Star Wars isn't that show. Neither is Star Trek for that matter. The only thing Star Trek wasn't allowed to contradict was itself, not real science.

As for people doing incredibly stupid things in movies... they do it in real life all the time. Is real life made up too ?

1. #### Re: WAY off the mark

@Jolyon Smith: "A nice rant, but unfortunately a load of typing wasted."

Erm... So? I think you'll find that applies to the whole of El Reg...

i.e. The WHOLE of El Reg (the bloggy bit as well as the commentardery).

:-B

3. #### Re: Did someone

FTA: "The point of the journal, the university says, is to teach students how to deal with refereed journals."

Their choice of subject matter is presumably irrelevant (but, in this case, entertaining).

2. #### Re: That blooper always annoyed me...

Podkayne of Mars was cute as well. The ending was quite moving (the revised one anyway).

Hot damn, I clearly bought the wrong paperbook when I got that at age 14. this is the cover I should've bought.

Mines the one with several of his books in my jacket :)

1. #### Re: That blooper always annoyed me...

Podkayne of Mars was cute as well. The ending was quite moving (the revised one anyway)...

Hot damn, I clearly bought the wrong paperbook when I got that at age 14. this is the cover I should've bought.

Day-am. "Cute" is not the word that comes to mind for me.

1. #### Re: That blooper always annoyed me...

Lol, I think the story is. It's classic teenage stuff with a female lead who is somewhat naive and 'cute'. But I agree that cover goes somewhat beyond 'cute'. My copy has a far less racy image:

Boring.

3. #### Re: That blooper always annoyed me...

"Too much Heinlein" I think you'll find that is a oxymoron similar to "Too much Mozart"

4. #### Re: That blooper always annoyed me...

From what I understand being able to do the kessel run in 12 parsecs was a proof of how good a navigator/pilot and the quality of his equipment rather than how fast the ship can go. As the kessel run is a series of black holes between 2 major space routes.

5. #### Re: That blooper always annoyed me...

So, perhaps George needs a little defense, as he takes a battering over this all the time.

The Kessel run was an 18 parsec long route, which Han Solo cut down to less that 12 parsecs. Yes, the parsec is a unit of distance. However, by moving closer to the black holes he had to travel faster in order to escape their gravitational fields - we can infer this as the escape velocity is inversely proportional to the square root of distance from the gravitational source.

Hence, although a parsec is not a velocity, the statement lets us know the Millenium Falcon is the fastest ship around and that Han has balls of steel to cut the journey so close to those black holes!

1. #### Re: That blooper always annoyed me...

How many lightyears across are these black holes supposed to be? Did ol' George (and one or two commentards) skip their trig lessons? Wouldn't they have to be the mothers of all black holes to extend a 12 parsec journey by 6 parsecs?!

2. #### Re: That blooper always annoyed me...

Made-up-by-fans after-the-fact editing of reality doesn't change the fact that the original quote was just plain wrong. This was an attempt to explain away the error, and Han Solo was definitely talking about speed when he made it.

3. #### Re: That blooper always annoyed me...

Two others beat me to it, but as they said, the black hole explanation is a fan whitewashing to try and make the line palatable. And it makes no sense (the idea that he was going so fast the event horizons of the black holes were effectively 6 parsecs smaller is hilarious).

But there's another, even more painful thing you're forgetting. In Star Wars their FTL travel is based on going to super-special-hyper-mega-other-dimension-space where they travel in straight lines, that means normal navigational hazards pretty much can't be there. So this run has to be done in normal space if he's beating hazards, where the light speed limit applies. 12 parsecs is about 40 LY. That means the trip, even at relativistic speeds, is going to take 50+ years. Hell, even in hyperspace it makes no sense, considering Han said the Falcon goes 1.5c. That's still 25 years.

Long story short, if you're awake while watching Star Wars there is a lot of jarringly stupid dialog that knocks you out of the movie. Either you can suspend disbelief enough or not, but it was pretty lazy on Lucas' part.

1. #### Re: That blooper always annoyed me...

In the name of all that is holy and good, Star Wars is NOT Science fiction. It's Space Opera, to the extent of having leitmotifs and everything. There's nothing wrong with that, and it's fun as hell to watch, but straining your brain to figure out how to make the dialogue work or why you'd design droids that needed interpreters is like trying to figure out how Alberich's ring could fit so many different-sized fingers. (Oo-er missus.)

It's not important. Move on.

1. #### Re: That blooper always annoyed me...

Surely space opera would require some singing?

1. #### Because I heard it on The Nerd Channel...

"The Kessel run was an 18 parsec long route, which Han Solo cut down to less that 12 parsecs."

YES! HE ALSO SHOT NOT FIRST!!!

2. #### Re: That blooper always annoyed me...

"In the name of all that is holy and good, Star Wars is NOT Science fiction. It's Space Opera"

NO NO NO NO NO!

Star Wars is REAL otherwise how did we get the message from the Galactic Empire about the Death Star plans?

1. #### Re: That blooper always annoyed me... @relpy

Ah, good point. My mistake. Real it clearly is.

2. #### Re: That blooper always annoyed me...

...Long story short, if you're awake while watching Star Wars there is a lot of jarringly stupid dialog that knocks you out of the movie. Either you can suspend disbelief enough or not, but it was pretty lazy on Lucas' part.

True, but let's face it -- Star Wars didn't exactly break any new ground in science fiction, or even basic storytelling, for that matter. When you strip away all the cinema tech advances, modernized visual style and effects gee-whizzery, what you've got left is just a remake of an old Flash Gordon pulp serial from the '30s.

It's not exactly THX 1138, that's for damn' sure.

6. #### Re: That blooper always annoyed me...

As I recall from reading The Making Of Star Trek, the term "parsec" was invented by the writers as a form of semi-believable sci-fi pseudo-tech-speak, and meant "parallax of one second".

Strictly technically speaking, the students at Leicester U. are right, although in a film or TV show, it wouldn't look as cool as having space travelers seeing the stars stretch out in front of them.

This is the same reason why in Star Trek, you heard that little "whoosh" whenever the Enterprise sped by, and in Star Wars, you heard that low, menacing rumble in the opening scene where the massive Imperial battle cruiser passes over the camera, seeming to go on forever. Technically, there's no sound in the vacuum of space, but if those scenes had been technically correct, there would've been no excitement or drama to them.

This isn't to say that a technically-correct scene taking place in space can't have any tension or drama to it. The EVA scene in Kubrick's 2001, in which HAL takes control of an empty pod and uses its robot arms to rip out the oxygen hose from Poole's suit and fling him into space, is a prime example. The quick cutaway shots of Poole thrashing and struggling to reconnect his oxygen hose as he tumbles wildly into deep space -- accompanied by complete silence -- are among the most tensely dramatic in the whole film.

1. #### The term "parsec" is not from sci-fi, it's from real science.

The word "parsec" does not come from sci-fi. It is a term made by astronomers when they were first able to measure star distances using the "parallax" method - measuring the position of a nearer star relative to much more distant ones six months apart (when the Earth has moved to the other side of its orbit) - near stars appear to have"changed" position, the lines Earth-star-Earth makes a triangle, angles can be computed and trigonometry gives you the distance. A star whose parallax angle is one second is said to be a "parsec" away. Actually no star is within one parsec, even Proxima Centauri is farther. Astronomers use the parsec in their computations much more often than light years, because of its geometrical definition.

2. #### Re: That blooper always annoyed me...

You plainly either didn't read the text accurately or the authors lied. The parsec, which does stand for "parallax second" is a standard unit of distance in astronomy equivalent 3.26 light years roughly. A bit of research indicates that it has been in use since 1913.

7. #### Re: That blooper always annoyed me...

Perhaps the 'Kessel run' is simply test in which a ship accelerates to and then decelerates from a predetermined speed. In which case '12 parsecs' would make sense. I imagine some extended universe book/game ruins that retcon though.

2. #### How the Kessel Run was run

Maybe this is enlightening.

Paris, just because.

1. #### Re: How the Kessel Run was run

Interesting ways to explain it.

I still reckon Georgie boy made a cock up, but the second 2 explanations make some sense.

1. #### Re: How the Kessel Run was run

I always thought that the official explanation was that the Millenium Falcon was the only ship fast enough to navigate a 12 parsec route due to it passing by black holes, and it is clever people trying to point out that speed and distance measurements are incompatible. It is a bit like a snowmobile driver being able to take a shortcut across a lake where a skier cannot. The snowmobile pilot could make that run in 200 yards, where the skier may have to ski around the lake and take 400 yards. The timing of the runs is not relevant as the increase in speed itself causes a change in the possible route. Simple and not at all confusing.

Also, the warp drives in Sci-Fi do not allow the spacecraft to fly faster than light, they allow the space they are in to be warped to the point that relativisticly, the craft appears to be travelling faster than light. As any fule kno, one cannot travel faster than light so how does the millenium falcon "make point 5 past light speed"? it does it by bending time and space so that it can just use its normal engines.

How warped space would look is another issue.

1. #### Re: How the Kessel Run was run

"Also, the warp drives in Sci-Fi do not allow the spacecraft to fly faster than light, they allow the space they are in to be warped to the point that relativisticly, the craft appears to be travelling faster than light."

Yet in effect, they do move information from one point to another faster than causality allows. It's not so much the "how" that's the question, but the fact that doing it will make the answer precede the question ;-)

1. #### Re: How the Kessel Run was run

Its all a matter of names - The Spacetime Origami Entanglement Engine

2. #### Re: How the Kessel Run was run

As long as we're being theoretical here, I've always believed that anything that could travel at the speed of light WAS light, so the problem is not so much achieving that speed, but slowing down and reconstituting yourself.

Someone told me a story once about how many advanced civilizations were able to achieve light speed, but could not return from it. That's why, when we have difficult tasks to perform, we turn a light on it — to bathe in their advanced intelligence!

3. #### "A Slower Speed of Light"

Last October some MIT people released a 'game' called "A Slower Speed of Light" free PC/Macs (you'll need a powerful system for smooth framerate) which demonstrates what happens when you slow down the speed of light - basically everything goes a bit trippy.

Video of it in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uu7jA8EHi_0

1. #### Re: "A Slower Speed of Light"

Somebody read "Redshift Rendez Vous" (John Stith), eh?

(Fair warning: don't read for literary qualities. But it _is_ a wonderful view of Relativity.)

1. #### Re: "A Slower Speed of Light"

Or they could read "Lost in Transmission" by Wil McCarthy.

1. #### Re: "A Slower Speed of Light"

"Or they could read "Lost in Transmission" by Wil McCarthy."

Or they could watch "Lost in Translation". Or at least, time tends to slow down for me when I'm watching that, waiting for something to happen...

2. #### Re: "A Slower Speed of Light"

The giant mushrooms as part of the scenery certainly hint at some of their inspiration for said game... ;D

1. #### Re: "A Slower Speed of Light"

Lorentz 'shrooms! Now with increased apparent mass!

3. #### Re: "A Slower Speed of Light"

You get a slower speed of light if it's not passing through a vacuum. In fact it's possible to drive a car faster than light (if that light is travelling through-270 degree sodium: the light will be doing 38 miles per hour.

4. Intense x-rays?

Wouldn't the intensity of the blue-shifted x-rays be proportional to the intensity of the visible light when at "rest?"

Space is pretty dark, without a whole lot of photons to start with. Even Doppler-shifted to x-rays, I'm not sure why they'd add so much to the "normal" radiation outside the Earth's magnetic field.

1. > Space is pretty dark, without a whole lot of photons to start with.

LOLNO. First you are in a heatbath of 3K cosmic microwave background. And then there is any other frequency you want. Go fast enough and they can all rip the electrons off your body.

1. "Go fast enough and they can all rip the electrons off your body."

That happened to me once... I found it quite a positive experience.

2. #### "go fast enough & rip electrons"

Please (somebody) correct me if i'm wrong. But isn't c constant regardless of your own speed? Isnt that Physics 101? That is, if i'm travelling in my car towards you the speed of light from the headlamps is still c. The same must hold true at 0.99c in the MF. I believe light is red shifted not due to a celestial body moving rapidly away from us, but rather due to the expansion of the intervening space.

1. #### Re: "go fast enough & rip electrons"

> Please (somebody) correct me if i'm wrong.

You are not wrong but what is the problem?

> I believe light is red shifted not due to a celestial body moving rapidly away from us, but rather due to the expansion of the intervening space.

Same thing in the end.

5. #### Except...

...that the Millenium Falcon doesn't travel in normal space but jumps into hyperspace to do it. I'm not a SW fan, and even I remember that.

I can only assume the funky display with the stars represents the jump itself, not necessarily movement in real-space.

1. #### Re: Except...

I suspect that the hyperspace jump is not accomplished as a single point-to-point jump, but consists of large numbers of short jumps, perhaps perfoming 100 jumps per second. That way, space at the next end point can be monitored more closely, to avoid jumping into an asteroid that wasn't on the maps.

The view out the window is therefore just like a movie. Nothing to explain.

1. #### Re: Except...

"...to avoid jumping into an asteroid that wasn't on the maps."

'cause that would end your trip real quick, wouldn't it kid?

(I think it was "asteroid field" and "charts" though)

6. #### Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs....

The Kessel run involved navigating a particularly treacherous part of the galaxy. Using his souped up ship, Han effectively found a shortcut allowing him to navigate to the spice mines in a distance of less than 12 parsecs (pehaps power-to-weight and maneuverability of the Falcon come into play here). Nerdy ok, but that's the explanation!

1. #### Re: Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs....

"If it's a fast ship?"

"You've never heard of the Millenium Falcon? I'm the guy who found a short cut to Kessel so it doesn't have to be fast."

Try again fanbois.

1. #### "Try again fanbois."

Normally I'd downvote your ignorance and move on, but as it's the OP's fault for not properly spelling out the scenario I'll correct him instead. The area of space through which the Kessel Run is made is dangerous because it's littered with black holes. The more powerful your ship's engines, the closer you can get to the black holes before you're unable to escape the gravity well - so being faster shortens your run as you can take a more direct line. Other, slower ships cannot take your route.

1. #### Re: "Try again fanbois."

You sounded like Comic Book Guy in that post Jedit.

2. #### Re: Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs....

"If it's a fast ship?"

"You've never heard of the Millenium Falcon? It's the only ship that can x-ray your whole body into radioactive sludge in the time it takes to do the Kessel run"

2. #### Re: Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs....

Shouldn't it be FEWER than 12 parsecs? :)

1. #### Re: Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs....

Only if you can't have a fraction of a parsec (so "12 parsecs" are individual things, and you have fewer things). Otherwise, "12 parsecs" is an amount of stuff; and you have less stuff.

2. #### Re: Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs....

"Shouldn't it be FEWER than 12 parsecs? :)"

You've confused parsecs for parsnips I fear.

7. #### This assumes you're looking out a WINDOW

If unshielded inhabitants are going to be bathed in x-rays, the builders of a star ship would hopefully be smart enough to shield it against that and avoid adding windows to the design... You might have a Star Trek style viewscreens where windows would be, which would be designed to look exactly like windows from the inside (but not the outside, sorry aliens) if Scott Forstall had anything to say about it.

It could theoretically interpret the x-rays that were being blocked from reaching the ships inhabitants as starlight and doppler correct it. If it can't do that, or the result doesn't look like anything useful, maybe the bridge crew will play a multiplayer shoot 'em up on the viewscreen to alleviate boredom, since they probably won't encounter an alien ship every other shift like they do in Star Trek. Or they could watch old episodes of Star Trek and other sci-fi movies and wish their mission was as exciting.

1. #### Re: This assumes you're looking out a WINDOW

Or watch re-runs of Silent Running on constant repeat and be glad their mission IS more exciting!

2. #### Re: This assumes you're looking out a WINDOW

The Battlestar Galactica series of ships are the only ones I can think of that got this right. No windows and heavy armour (BSG takes numerous hits from nukes). Best of all the CIC (or bridge) is well protected by being stuffed deep in the guts of the ship. Compare that with Star Trek, Star Wars, SG1, etc, where the designers insist on having a well windowed/sky-lit conning tower jutting out into space. I always thought it was kinda pathetic in Empire Strikes Back when a Star Destroyer gets pwnd by a single asteriod hit to the bridge (or conning tower if you will).

1. #### Re: This assumes you're looking out a WINDOW

To be fair, the Enterprise D had a "Battle Bridge" which was much deeper in the hull (although not when the saucer was separated...) and on at least one occasion Picard(?) said "transfer command to main engineering", which would be about as well protected as the warp core.

Still, the bridge crew mostly just sat where they were when encountering a faeces/fan situation so your point certainly stands.

1. #### Re: This assumes you're looking out a WINDOW

which would be about as well protected as the warp core.

Which happens to blow up with boring regularity ...

2. #### Re: This assumes you're looking out a WINDOW

It's equally pathetic when planets get pwned by a simple comet strike...

3. #### Re: This assumes you're looking out a WINDOW

"Best of all the CIC (or bridge) is well protected by being stuffed deep in the guts of the ship."

Andromeda had it the same way as well. Also, since the ships featured on the show were smaller, they took a different approach to protection. Instead of being huge and massively armored, the ships were more spread out with lots of open space between them. The universe of Andromeda had a lot of gravity manipulation, so the most common attacks were made by way of massive kinetic imapcts. The ships were designed to let the objects pass through: transferring as little destructive energy as possible to the ship itself. The spread-out nature of the ship meant it was difficult to get to the bridge in the center as its own gravity shields and outer layers would encourage more glancing hits.

8. #### The Millennium Falcon...

... is the Chuck Norris of spaceships. It slaps hyperspace back into red shift and rides the tidal wave of energy for free to its destination.

9. #### Oh, come on!...

I can allow a bit of leeway with the visual effects used in SciFi films to represent travelling at warp/hyper/light speed, since no-one's *exactly* sure what would happen in those grey areas at the edge of the laws of physics.

The aircraft carrier sized fuckwittery that does my head in every time is the cacophony of roaring rocket engines, zapping laser guns and thunderous explosions with which almost all directors feel the need to embellish their 'outdoor' scenes set in the vacuum of space*.

[*Kudos to Kubrick for actually acknowledging that "In space, no-one can hear you rev your engines"]

1. #### Re: Oh, come on!...

It's not sound. It's powerful EM interference making noise on the speaker system of the protagonists' ship (or whoever the camera is watching at the moment). Most Star Wars weapons and engines are based on fast-moving plasma.

2. #### Re: Oh, come on!...

Heard the foley artists have a strong union...

.....mine's the one with the slide flute in the pocket....

(Hold on......what was that sound.. no no NOOOOOOO!)

10. #### They don't have anything better to do?

People scoffed at the Wright brothers too.

1. #### Re: They don't have anything better to do?

People were correct to scoff at the Wright brothers. Their only real contribution to engineering was the reversed thread on left bicycle pedals.

1. #### Re: They don't have anything better to do?

The contribution of Wright brothers to engineering was how to control actually a flying machine before trying to fly on it to avoid to get killed and thereby never learn how to fly one. That's why most pre-Wright flight failed often killing the "pilot" while Wright Flyer succeeded. The problem was not just taking off - the real problem was to keep the "flying machine" stable, and under control, make it turn, and bring it back to land safely.

1. #### Re: They don't have anything better to do?

I am sorry to say, but the first heavy than air, self-propelled flying machine was the Santos Dumont's plane (14-bis). It got up and down by its own power - not launched in the air by a catapult. And did it in front of a crowd of civilians, not alone without witness.

I will not complain about the wheels - but a catapult? A plane must be able to get up in the air by its own means. Yes, yes. I know the carriers have catapults. But it is not because the jets cannot get airborne by themselves: it's because the runaway is too short.

Would, ever, that Wright plane got airborne without help?

1. #### Re: They don't have anything better to do?

Isn't the phrase used to describe the Wright bruds flight "The world's first powered controlled flight by a heavier than air machine", the implication being that earlier powered flights were not al that controlled.

Anyway, I'm quite sure the WBs were first, just as Chuck Yeagar was first to break the sound barrier.

2. #### Re: They don't have anything better to do?

The Flyer didn't had wheels but didn't use a catapult - catapults to launch planes where made later! The Flyer did use a rail for its takeoff run (and a skid to land) - but the power came from its own engine. Why they didn't use wheels? Maybe to save on weight and keep the plane on track while taking off despite the wind. What was important is the Wright were able to control the plane while in flight and bring it back to land, and make longer and longer flights. Santos-Dumont made a 60m flight in 1906, in 1905 the Flyer did already a 39min 24mi flight, a huge difference. Sure, not every Flyer solution was the best one (they had no ailerons but warping wings, and the controls were very different from modern ones), but they worked while in flight and showed how a plane could and should be controlled. Others introduced better ways to achieve it later. There were some short flights even before 1903, but the Wrights were the first to be able to perfom them repeatedly and improving each time.

1. #### Re: They don't have anything better to do?

There could be an even simpler reason why the didn't use wheels. They were working on sandy beach to take advantage of the winds, and probably of the softer ground if something went wrong. With the power available, and narrow bycicle tires, it would have been very difficult to take off and land. The rail/skid could have been an effective and simple solution - after all the X-15 used skids too - and it was not alone. After all it was true science: remove everything not critical to the experiment and focus on what you need to test. Aviation records are another story - you could look for records, or really improve the aeronautical science without pursuing them. The latest hypersonic test may not obtain certification, but who cares? That's science, not the bext Sector/Redbull-sponsored silly attempt to do something strange...

2. #### Re: They don't have anything better to do?

Not to mention the efficiency of their propeller, viewing it as a wing, rather than a paddle. Their understanding/harmonization of aerodynamics stunned everyone else at the time.

//end falling for OP troll

2. #### Re: They don't have anything better to do?

"Their only real contribution to engineering was the reversed thread on left bicycle pedals."

...something for which I'm grateful on a daily basis!

11. #### Star Wars is Science FICTION for a reason...

I can't believe a bunch of clever scientists wasted their time figuring this one out.

Star Wars is science FICTION, not fact, meaning that some stuff that happens in the show isn't true, and can't possibly happen.

Next they'll be coming out with a story that the Death Star couldn't possibly be made...

A lot of Sci-fi is utter rubbish according to what we know currently (of course without anyway of testing these theories at present (and highly unlikely in the future) we have no way of checking who got it right).

There have been other things in sci-fi films that aren't true and that most probably couldn't happen - a time travelling delorean (knowing how bad those things were built the car would be obliterated if it tried to go as fast is it did in the movie to jump through time), mass effect relays that can take us to the collectors, an extra train platform that can only be accessed by witches and wizards running head on into a brick wall between platforms 9 and 10, the heart of gold - a ship that can make the impossible happen, or that there is a disc shaped planet riding on the back of a giant tortoise, etc.

All this is just science fiction and isn't meant to be taken as true, if science fiction was meant to be true then it would be very boring. It's just down to imagination and where it takes you and not meant to be taken literally and investigated by science.

1. #### Re: Star Wars is Science FICTION for a reason...

Everything you say is true; but that's not the point. The point is to encourage and to practice methods of analysis in general terms. That way, when something does happen that is outside the knowledge or experience of a scientist, they will have the intellectual methods and ability to deal with it.

1. #### Re: Star Wars is Science FICTION for a reason...

Everything you say is true; but that's not the point. The point is to encourage and to practice methods of analysis in general terms. That way, when something does happen that is outside the knowledge or experience of a scientist, they will have the intellectual methods and ability to deal with it...........

Agreed! Whenever reading Sci-Fi the curious mind will always try to reason whether or not something is possible (and often some of the best of the genre can be discerned in this way) and curious scientific minds are necessary if new things are to be discovered..

But when reading for enjoyment never let impossibilities get in the way of a good yarn :)

After all, it's impossible to say we could drive a car remotely on Mars, isn't it? Oh, wait....

2. #### Re: Star Wars is Science FICTION for a reason...

Not impossible, just very improbable.

3. #### Re: Star Wars is Science FICTION for a reason...

"Star Wars is Science FICTION for a reason..."

No it is not!!!!!!

The whole point of Science Fiction is to feature... Science. And then to fiddle with it, break the rules or whatever, but at least be consistent with it and keep science and technology-driven plots, hooks and items as integral to the plot. Asimov is Science Fiction. Science Fiction writers start out by defining the 'rules' of their universe and go from there. None of the Star-Wars plot lines were driven by science or technology, they merely used it as a McGuffin every now and again.

Star Wars is Space Opera.

The science is hand-waved and not crucial to the plot. Science and technology is there simply to provide a dramatic back-drop to a fantastical story-line. Space Opera is character and story driven, 'unrealistic', and doesn't have to make any kind of scientific sense.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_fiction

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_opera

4. #### @Darren Forster - Re: Star Wars is Science FICTION for a reason...

"I can't believe a bunch of clever scientists wasted their time figuring this one out."

*Students, not scientists. Read the end of the article:

"The point of the journal, the university says, is to teach students how to deal with refereed journals."

5. #### Re: Star Wars is Science FICTION for a reason...

Not sure how far down the article you read but it states that this "investigation" was, essentially, a bunch of students using a familiar pop culture reference to conduct a thought experiment and (here's the whole point of the exercise) write it up and submit it to be refereed and be of sufficient rigour to pass review and get published. Part of their education rather than actual, serious, research.

That said, the University PR bods have obviously got wind of it and gone "Holy Star Wars Batman! That's guaranteed column inches! To the Pressmobile!" and flung the story from Leicester to the Outer Rim Territories.

1. #### Re: Star Wars is Science FICTION for a reason...

University PR departments are basically Satan. They attach the university's name to some bullshit convenient mis-reading of someone's work, publish it far and wide as possible, and people end up reading it thinking they're being informed. In the worst case it's something relevant to day-to-day life and people make decisions based on the hack PR garbage. But as long as it gets their school ink, damn the consequences, after all the lay press is almost never equipped to fact check their press releases so what's the risk?

On a more cheerful note, the term I've always like for Star Wars is 'Science Fantasy'. It's fantasy using science-like magic. But like in fantasy, the hows and whys aren't really important, the character piece is usually at the forefront.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unruh_effect

13. #### LUDICROUS SPEED!

Needs more plaid!!!

1. #### Re: LUDICROUS SPEED!

I believe every Spaceballs quote should get an automatic up vote.

1. #### Re: LUDICROUS SPEED!

I think the same about Pratchett.

14. #### The weapons are pretty unbelievable too

Most sci-fi films have line-of-sight weapons. "Stay on target..." etc. Film aliens will get a real shock if they ever take on humanity and face the arsenal of over-the-horizon self-guiding MACH2+ weapons we have.

"Oh you researched interstellar travel and came here to eat us? Well, humanity's principle technological drive has always been weaponry, so I have some really bad news for you..."

1. #### Re: The weapons are pretty unbelievable too

"Film aliens will get a real shock if they ever take on humanity and face the arsenal of over-the-horizon self-guiding MACH2+ weapons we have."

I'm pretty sure they might have thought of it themselves at some point.

1. #### Re: The weapons are pretty unbelievable too

Hypersonic self guided missiles with multiple Fusion warheads are probably illegal in the Galactic Federation, but no-one told us.

15. #### Parsecs

George doesn't care no more.

Soon we'll get a Disney spinoff called Star Wars: Kessel, and it'll involve Ewoks singing about a Bright New Future.

1. #### Re: Parsecs

Hahaha, I pictured a shortcut into one of those "misting gardens" that are nice in the hot summers and the Ewoks enchanting one into a pleasant moment of relaxation between parsecs.

Oh, and their heads will move up and down very mechanically, or at least that's the childhood memory of other singing thingies.

S&C since there are always Pirates nearby in theme parks, but Paris would be more pleasant.

16. #### Lasers in space

what about the fact that lasers from laser cannons are invisible in space no matter what wavelength?

1. #### Re: Lasers in space

Yes, indeed, once you see the light of a weapon-class laser, you can't any more (ever again!)

2. #### Re: Lasers in space

But those phsszzew noises are all real!

17. #### Windows Warp screen saver

No you don't understand, they were just running the Windows Warp screen saver on their main screen.

http://www.codeproject.com/Articles/31941/Multi-monitor-Warp-Speed-Screen-Saver

1. #### Re: Windows Warp screen saver

So that's why the dang thing always needed a reboot.

18. #### The point

Is to find a problem that students will have to find a solution to without any easy cheats.

Nice one.

19. #### Maybe...

...the 'Kessel Run' is not a measured distance, it's a set of tasks that could be carried out in any set order. This would make the parsec measurement correct... Feasible?

20. #### Cone of light, brighter at the centre

What I'm getting from this is that the Elite hyperspace graphic was in fact not too bad.

21. #### Physics

Who assumes you can have see-through windows in a spaceship that can travel that fast? Do people not know about atoms "rubbing off" en-route (causing disintegration)?

P.S.

time is a measurement of change; not an actual event. Time is a single eternity (not a clock).

1. #### Re: Physics

Time is the fourth dimension. It was explained to me this way:

Take a line — that is the first dimension. Take another line at right angles to the first — that's the second dimension. Take a third line at right angles to both the first two — that's the third dimension. Now take a line at right angles to those three...

22. #### "won’t see the stars stretching by"

That effect was only used for acceleration/deceleration to and from Hyper Space, whilst in Hyper Space George went for a sort of bluey-white cloudy effect that rotated slightly, possibly similar to that described by the students. It didn't get much screen time, as it's not as pretty as the star-stretch effect.

23. #### Well if you're going to be picky

Why do the X wing fighters change there wing configuration when attacking the death star? The was no atmosphere so there is no aerodynamic effect. Possibly to give a wider firing patten? Or just possibly just a visual cue of the ships preparing for battle in what is just an entertaining scifi story.

1. #### Re: Well if you're going to be picky

Because they were poorly designed, this allowed them to separate their wing-tip cannons; presumably so they didn't cause the ship to explode.

1. #### Re: Well if you're going to be picky

It's so the streams don't cross. That would be bad...

2. #### Re: Well if you're going to be picky

According to the old Star Wars RPG (West End Games) you are absolutely correct, it's to give a wider firing area, concentrated at the corners of your ship in order that you can hit the enemy without being completely head on (obviously nobody told Wedge Antilles).

1. #### Re: Well if you're going to be picky

And why were'nt the engines of an X-wing out on the wingtips too, would make it so much easier to rotate the ships when you've got a TIE fighter on your tail.

But then thats because Lucas watched 'The battle of Britain' and "The dambusters" while he was coming up with the final scenes

1. #### Re: Well if you're going to be picky

633 Squadron was the direct inspiration for the final attack on The Death Star.

From the Wonkypedia synopsis of 633 Squadron:

"The plant is in a seemingly impregnable location beneath an overhanging cliff at the end of a long, narrow fjord lined with anti-aircraft guns. The only way to destroy the plant is by collapsing the cliff on top of it"

2. #### Re: Well if you're going to be picky

Wings probably aren't strong enough to support the shear from the engine thrust if placed on the wings. The idea makes me think of the Starfury from the Babylon 5 universe. It was specifically designed for what you mentioned. Four thruster clusters, one on each corner, each with a forward, backward, lateral, and vertical thruster so it can turn like few other ships could: even in place.

3. #### Re: Well if you're going to be picky

You sir, are an awesome nerd.

24. #### How did such a thing occur?

The midichlorians did it.

25. Seriously, the millennium Falcon is inside a deflector bubble when it travels the stars appear the way they do because of the relative conditions inside the bubble vs those outside the bubble. They have to go and do their homework on how stars would appear travelling at light speed through a deflector field that keeps the object inside the bubble at relative normal.

/sarc off

lol

26. #### Death by X-Ray?

But what if the Falcon was constructed from negative-index metamaterials?

1. #### Re: Death by X-Ray?

That, or you just reverse the polarity of the neutron flow (seems to work for Scotty and Geordi La Forge, and Dr. Who (or was that the flux))

27. #### They just don't think about it enough

It bugs me when they show the view of stars rushing by, in just about any Sci-Fi production, and the stars stay the same size as the whoosh by.

In reality the view would be a fairly static backdrop of distant stars much like we see when we look up on a cloudless night, with the occasional star growing hugely in size, then becoming a blinding light as the craft passes by without somehow burning up.

So, effects like the PC 'starfield' screensaver are so totally wrong I can only laugh.

28. #### Kessel

As a kid I also knew Parsec was distance, and so assumed that it must be a measure of acceleration rather than speed. In the same way that high performance car has a great "quarter mile". So if you assume that the Kessel run means a "jack-rabbit" standing start acceleration to light speed (or to light speed and back to sub-light speed again) then the Kessel run would be measured in Parsecs. There are reasons why a "run" might not be a simple distance covered.

1. #### Re: Kessel

You would get really old though doing 12 parsecs waiting for hyperspace.

29. #### no artist's rendition

help me el reg, you're my only hope

30. First they* tell us, that to reach the speed of light, the ship will need infinite energy.

Now they* tell us, that when you get near the speed of light, your ship will be irradiated by... infinite energy of universe's background radiation, Doppler-shifted to visible, then x-ray, and then some.

So, you'll just need an effective solar panel to provide that infinite energy? Will the infinities conveniently cancel out at light-speed?

___________

* boffins

31. #### But

If the students are right, how did the Roswell Greys get here?

32. #### Bah!

Niven discussed this in the very early 70s. Not new. Not groundbreaking. Make these uninformed nitwits give back any grant monies and tell them to read around more.

33. ER...Rubbish!

They travel through Hyperspace.

No-one can possibly say what it looks like.

Perhaps it really does look like the opening titles of Doctor Who circa 1975.

The 'Jump to lightspeed' is therefore a metaphor for 'Do the necessary calculations in order to create and enter a hyperspace field'.

I would be more concerned about the apparent motion of the X-Wings as they appear to move through an atmosphere rather than a vacuum.

34. #### They don't travel at near light speed. It's faster.

Yes, at realativistic speeds (the students use 0.9999995c as their benchmark), light from stars is no longer visible at all. At superluminal speed, physics get really predictable again, and things'll seem to go back in time. The real problem is that the stars pass the ship by. At superluminal speed (>1.0*c, which is entirely possible, as long as you can somehow bypass hitting "c" itself. Which is not possible in classical physics) the stars should look like the ship's reversing =)

1. #### Re: They don't travel at near light speed. It's faster.

> which is entirely possible

Urban legend.

35. #### What the hell...

What the hell is an aluminum falcon?

1. #### Re: What the hell...

It's the same as a standard bronze falcon, only made in China.

1. #### Re: What the hell...

I thought it was the Maltese Falcon.

36. #### Cone of light

So, the cone of light people claim to see who have had near death experiences might correspond to travelling somewhere at (close to) light speed. Interesting

1. #### Re: Cone of light

More likely their visual cortex going a bit crazy due to lack of oxygen. Tunnel vision of death.

37. Pic or it didn't happen.

38. #### Re. FTL

I was under the impression that FTL meant using a doughnut shaped field to warp the fabric of space/time and thus the space moves "faster". The conventional engines would only be needed to keep the crew area of the FTL shp in the "eye of the storm" so to speak.

>1000T fields would do horrible things to living tissue, such as inducing hallucinations and stopping hearts if the electric field gradients (google MRI) got too intense.

I am writing a paper on this as we speak..

AC/DC 6EQUJ5

39. #### Would you believe it

PRL won't accept it, grr. Maybe I can get it published in some obscure journal, got any suggestions?

40. #### May Contain Star Wars Nuts

Alluvial dampers. Nuff said. / coat.

41. #### I've travelled at hyperspeed

On my way home the other night in the snow. The effect is pretty cool at 60mph on a dark country road.

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