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The Masked Man Reviews the Star Wars Movies
The Masked Man Reviews the Star Wars Movies
The Lone Ranger
Published by The Lone Ranger
01-07-2007
Default A New Hope; Strange Physics and Astronomy


Strange Physics and Astronomy:
Grand Moff Tarkin had the Death Star blow Alderaan to bits, to set an example for the rest of the galaxy. (This might be a good way to instill fear, but it would hardly be a good way to convince people that the Galactic Empire was a benevolent entity, worthy of their loyalty.) How would it be possible for the Death Star to destroy an entire planet?

Assuming Alderaan was the same mass and density as the Earth, the Death Star would have had to generate a minimum of about 2.4 x 1032 joules of energy to overcome Alderaan’s gravitational field and so destroy it. (If any less energy were used, even if the planet broke apart, its gravity would cause the pieces to fall back together. We could clearly see that this did not happen.) For comparison, this is about as much energy as the Sun generates in a week! As Einstein taught us (E=mc2), matter can be converted to energy. The Death Star would have had to convert about 2.5 trillion (2.5 x 1012) tons of matter into energy to generate the power necessary to destroy Alderaan. Somehow, I doubt they had that much spare matter available, much less the means to convert it to energy so efficiently. (That would probably have been close to or perhaps even in excess of the mass of the Death Star itself!)

While we’re on the subject, what was the mysterious flaming ring that extended outward from Alderaan as the planet was destroyed? It looked cool and all, but I can think of no possible explanation for its existence. (The Death Star created another such ring as it was destroyed – again, for no apparent reason.)

Yavin was a gas giant planet, similar to Jupiter in our solar system. The Rebels’ secret base was located on a forested moon of that planet. If Yavin was about the size of Jupiter, it could indeed have had an Earth-sized satellite. There’s nothing impossible about that. It’s unlikely that a gas giant like Yavin would be found so close to its parent star though, because, being made mostly of hydrogen and helium, a gas giant would not be expected to survive in such a warm environment. It would essentially evaporate over time. Apparently, Yavin was made of different substances than the gas giants in our solar system.

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