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‘Star Wars’ tech: Latest threat suggests the bad guys have perfected plasma physics
Science & Technology

‘Star Wars’ tech: Latest threat suggests the bad guys have perfected plasma physics

Spoiler Alert! This submit doesn’t reveal any main plot twists, however it does discover a vital aspect of the new film. Cease studying now if you’d like it to stay a shock.

X-wing fighter know-how hasn’t modified all that a lot in 30 years, however one in all the threats unveiled in “Star Wars: The Power Awakens” suggests that the darkish facet has upped its sport relating to plasma physics.

How else do you clarify a planet-sized Loss of life Star that apparently sucks up super-hot star stuff and places it in storage to unleash upon total planetary techniques? That requires one heck of a magnetic confinement chamber.

It’s not a lot of a spoiler to replicate on simply how massive the facility often called Starkiller Base is, contemplating that “Power Awakens” director J.J. Abrams discussed the concept with Entertainment Weekly a month in the past.

“It is extremely a lot — and it’s acknowledged as such in the film — apparently one other Loss of life Star,” Abrams mentioned. “However what it’s able to, the way it works, and what the threat is, is much better than what the Loss of life Star may have performed.”

The idea has been mentioned prematurely studies about the film for a few months now, and it’s already capturing imaginations: Selection studies that builders are planning to construct a 330-foot-high Starkiller Base installation in Abu Dhabi.

Starkiller Base is to “The Power Awakens” as the Loss of life Star was to “Star Wars: A New Hope” – which suggests you possibly can depend on physics geeks to determine just how much power it consumes, and just how expensive it’d be to build one. (One economist calculated that the failure of the $15.6 septillion Loss of life Star growth effort would have elevated the danger of a post-Palpatine financial crisis in the “Star Wars” galaxy.)

In science fiction, the power-generating technologies at the prime finish of the scale embrace antimatter engines and vacuum power. Recently there’s been lots of speculation about Dyson spheres, energy-absorbing alien megastructures that would theoretically be constructed round stars. However the indisputable fact that stellar plasma has one thing to do with revving up Starkiller Base factors as an alternative towards magnetic confinement fusion.

Fusion is the power response that powers the solar and hydrogen bombs. Below circumstances of utmost strain and temperature, hydrogen nuclei fuse, creating helium atoms plus neutrons. A smidgen of additional mass is transformed into power — as expressed by E=mc2, Albert Einstein’s well-known equation. One pound of fusion gas may produce the identical quantity of power as 10 million pounds of fossil fuel.

We puny Earthlings are nonetheless making an attempt to create vessels able to containing plasma — that’s, super-hot hydrogen gasoline — inside magnetic fields underneath the conditions required for fusion. Roughly talking, you’d have to attain a temperature of 200 million to 400 levels Fahrenheit for at the very least a few seconds.

The international ITER project in France is aiming to display a net-gain managed fusion response someday in the 2020s. Some non-public ventures hope to accelerate the move to commercial fusion power. Nevertheless it’s clear that the bad guys answerable for the First Order figured it out a very long time in the past in a galaxy far, distant.

In response to complaints about spoilerification, we’ve tweaked the headline and lead paragraph of this story to make references to Starkiller Base much less particular. And sure, we all know “Star Wars: The Power Awakens” is simply a film. Take a look at “A Star for Us,” a downloadable comedian e book from the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, for a graphic rationalization of the fusion quest.

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