Monday, June 5, 2017

Star Wars--Fun and Science

Star Wars Day at Isotopes Park

Our local AAA baseball team is called the Isotopes (yup, you got it...after the ball team on the Simpsons). After the original team called the Dukes were sold (that team had been named in honor of Albuquerque's nickname, the "Duke City") they decided the new team name needed to be more updated and trendy.


It took a while to grow on me, but I certainly love the team's mascot, the ever adorable and entertaining Orbit, an unidentifiable friendly object who's sort of a cross between an alien and a teddy bear.

Saturday, June 3, was Star Wars Day at Isotopes Park, and of course we had to be there for this special event. It was a lot of fun hearing the Star Wars theme music during the game, seeing the cast of characters that came out for photo opportunities--Han, Luke, Leia, Darth, Kylo, several Stormtroopers in various uniforms, a tie-fighter pilot, a Jedi or six, and even Orbit, dressed up in his tan Jedi robes. (I should have had my camera at ready when they came our way, but only managed a shot of one character).

Darth Vader makes an appearance with an Isotopes player in his
special Star Wars jersey. Orbit is at the right.

It was a beautiful New Mexico evening and though the Isotopes didn't win the game, it was still a highlight watching the after-game fireworks show set to the music of Star Wars.

A beautiful evening for the Star Wars celebration at Isotopes Park. 

Unfortunately, my attempt to film the absolutely awesome Star Wars Fireworks Show was a big, fat FAIL due to problems with my cell phone's microphone, apparently. I'll try to see if I can come up with a better video and post it later.

Exploring the Science of the Force

So while I'm on the subject of Star Wars, it seemed a good time to delve into a related science-speculative topic.

Some claim that Star Wars isn't science fiction, but actually science fantasy because of the inclusion of the hand-wavery known as the Force.

But does that make it so, Number One?

Maybe not. Let me refer to the phrase we often bandy about regarding advanced technology appearing to a more primitive society as "magic." True, that. And with what we're just now starting to discover about our universe, I'd say we're still a pretty primitive civilization by Star Wars standards.

So is the Force really "just magic" or the application of advanced technology and/or capability?

Let's take a look into some cutting edge science. Researchers are slowly beginning to understand two "forces" in our universe called Dark Energy and Dark Matter. What are they exactly? As Yoda would say, "Difficult to tell." Because we can't see or detect either, we don't really know what they are. We only know from the dynamics of how the universe works and behaves that they have to be present.

So how do we know this Dark stuff is even there?

In order for galaxies to not spin apart, there has to be something they call Dark Matter that accounts for the mass and the gravity that holds it all together, and in order for observations from deep space (which also means deep time) to make sense, there also has to be something stretching the universe apart--and that was dubbed Dark Energy.

In tandem, Dark Energy and Dark Matter create the theoretical dynamics that explain how the universe functions as it does when normal mathematics say it shouldn't function at all. (Either that or we need to throw out everything we understand about physics and start over.)

But here's the kicker.

Nearly ninety-six percent of the universe has to be made up of Dark Energy and Dark Matter! That means all the stuff we can see and detect only amounts to between 4 to 5% of the universe. The tangible elements are in the vast, vast minority, so the stuff we can't detect is actually what most of the universe is filled with.

Even though we can't detect it, scientist believe that dark matter forms a web that causes the galaxies to form the patterns they do and penetrates matter as we know our own planet. But experiments to find particles of dark matter via WIMPS (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles) have so far failed. So we still can't detect it.

Or can we? Maybe I should say, or did we...once?

Now we veer off into my particularly favorite part of the discussion--pure speculation!

Long ago, ancient civilizations built pyramids all over the world, not just those in Egypt and South America, but also many now buried pyramids reported to be in places like the Ukraine, China...even Alaska. But pyramids weren't the only important sites, there were also the Nazca lines, Easter Island, and Findhorn in Scotland, to name only a few.

Some believe that these important sites were part of a grid that tapped into a mysterious, invisible energy source along something called Ley Lines--which are theorized to be points on the Earth's surface where this "energy force" seems to be stronger. Perhaps points where the web of Dark Matter penetrates the Earth? If so, then these sites may actually have been part of a sort of global power grid and civilizations of long, long ago knew how to tap into this "Force."

So when Steven Spielberg first penned that descriptive explanation for The Force he probably didn't realize he might be giving a startling accurate definition of the effects of Dark Matter:

“It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.”

If in the future humans could be trained to mentally tap into this "Force" and draw on its mysterious powers that bind and flow through everything in the universe, well...that's not magic. That's technology. And it moves Star Wars squarely back into the Science Fiction realm.

Have a great week.


  1. Now that was interesting. Very. And I have nothing else to say.

    1. Thanks, Greta. I've done a lot of research into ancient civilizations and it seems obvious we've lost technologies that we once had. Or for how long we had them.

      For instance, we still don't know how the ancients built some of the things they did, or the exact age of the pyramids. From my research, I've formed a theory that the Egyptians didn't build the pyramids, they only repurposed them, as well as the Sphinx, which clearly had the head re-carved at a later date because it's completely out of proportion with the rest of the monument. There's erosion evidence that suggests the pyramids and sphinx may have stood for approximately 12,000 years and a spiff-up and re-surfacing by the Pharaohs delayed their deterioration for several millennia. One thing is pretty certain. They weren't built as tombs.

      But I've gotten off on another tangent...and probably another blog article. :)

    2. Not built as tombs - no. Did I tell you about a geologist friend who found opalised human bones?

    3. I should have said fossilized, not opalized - but very, very old. I'll send you a doc.

    4. Got it. Wow, that's fascinating! But sad the site was apparently never preserved or studied to any extent.

  2. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." One of Arthur C Clarke's three laws.
    "...just because you can't see it doesn't mean it isn't there..." There are so many sources for that quote and variations on it. I think in one of the prequels, doesn't Obi-Wan get schooled by a group of padawans on how to find a planet that isn't in the records? Something about how the invisible planet obviously still exerts forces on its neighbours, and those disturbances in the gravitational force should pinpoint where it would be? There's so much we still don't know and that we know or have now that seemed impossible fifty years ago that we can't dismiss apparently magic as scientifically improbable or impossible.

  3. Exactly, Pippa. There's no such thing as impossible. Anything we imagine can probably be achieved once our technology sufficiently advances.

    If we traveled back in time to the 60s and told people that within their lifetime they'd be walking around with something even better than the Star Trek communicators--miniature, handheld, wireless telephones that would also serve as cameras, calendars, clocks, notebooks, entertainment and mini-computers, they'd have laughed and called us insane.

    Yet here we are, not only in a society abundant with cell phones, but starting to research/pursue warp drive capabilities, extraterrestrial colonization, interstellar travel...even transparent aluminum.

    And it only took us five decades to get from there to here. Truly, "impossible" doesn't exist.


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