cover image Science of Star Wars

Science of Star Wars

Jeanne Cavelos. St. Martin's Press, $22.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-312-20958-2

The opening in May of the new Star Wars film has hardcore fans in a frenzy. Timed to release with The Phantom Menace, this book follows in the tradition of The Physics of Star Trek and Caveloss own The Science of the X-Files. The author examines five major areasplanetary environments, aliens, droids, space ships and weapons, and the Forcein sufficient detail to satisfy even knowledgeable fans. Take Lukes desert home world, Tatooine. When Star Wars first came out, scientists doubted the existence of planets in other solar systems, but since 1995 several have been found. Could a planet form around a binary star? Yes, but due to gravitational forces only if the stars were very far apart or very close, so as Luke gazes out at his two suns setting, he sees an accurate portrayal of a binary system. Most of the Star Wars aliens fare equally well. The Wookies keen sense of smell, for example, would give them an alternative means of communication so that they might need to vocalize only with grunts and howls. Can the force be with you? Physicist David Bohm posited a quantum potential force that would interpenetrate and bind together everything in the universe, but only Yoda knows if we can direct it with our minds. Caveloss engaging style makes this book a treat, with no science background necessary. (May) FYI: The Science of the X-Files has been nominated for a 1998 Bram Stoker Award in the Nonfiction category.