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|| This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by R2D2. Should probably include some discussion of the cosmology of Star Wars -- especially if we can observe differences between SW physics and ours. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.|
Rey and Kylo Ren, from the latest trilogy of the Star Wars series, are engaging in a lightsaber duel. Rey tells Kylo that they should not fight, but work together on cosmology, the study of the origins of the universe. Specifically she wants to study the expansion rate of the universe; scientists believe that the universe is expanding, and that the expansion rate is accelerating, but aren't sure of the exact rate, what the rate was in the past, or if it varies depending on location. Since the Star Wars movies take place "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away", if Rey and Kylo presented their findings in the movie, it would theoretically give scientists more data points. Although it is unlikely that modern scientists would use cosmological data from a movie generally considered fictional, especially as said time long ago and distance far, far away are never quantified, some movies and TV shows have spurred scientific innovations due to their subject matter (see below).
The caption, besides explaining the obvious nerd cred this turn of events would earn if it actually occurred in the movies, is also a play on the accusations of pandering to progressives that were made by some against The Force Awakens, citing its racially diverse cast and powerful—arguably overpowered—female protagonist.
The title text is Randall's complaint that the Star Wars movies have been more focused on the Wars aspect than the Star aspect. It seems he would want a film about stars. It's worth noting that, with a half-width space, "Star " and " Wars" are the same number of letters long, and are therefore perfect halves of the title.
Star Wars is a recurring topic on xkcd.
The Cosmology of Star Wars
As far as we can tell, the stars of Star Wars (that is, the celestial bodies, not the actors) seem to be much the same as ours. The "galaxy far, far away" has had various depictions over the years, but all sources agree that it is a spiral galaxy approximately the same size as our Milky Way galaxy, albeit with a less prominent bar than the Milky Way has. We don't ever hear what name, if any, the Star Wars characters have for the galaxy, or why they call it a "galaxy" when the word comes from a Latin phrase, "Via Galactica" or "Milky Way" -- a question that Randall has brought up in 890: Etymology. Light is known to have a speed, although we are not told what that speed is, or if it is constant for all observers in all reference frames, and ships can travel faster than that speed by "jumping" into hyperspace, crossing the galaxy in a matter of hours rather than tens of thousands of years.
In addition to the usual stellar evolution process, stars in Star Wars are subject to premature destruction or spontaneous creation by various superweapons, such as the Sun Crusher and Star Forge.
Many of the planets of Star Wars are dominated by one or two biomes, rather than the dozens into which our homeworld is divided. Some of these are reasonable enough (a planet could certainly be covered in desert or ice or lava depending on its water content and proximity to a star), but others require some novel climate patterns not exhibited on Earth (the same atmospheric pattern that gives rise to Earth's tropical rainforests also produces the Sahara Desert).
Science from the arts
- The depiction of the black hole Gargantua in the movie Interstellar is unprecedented in that new software based on the equations of relativity was written specifically for the movie, which resulted in what scientists consider to be the most accurate visualization of a black hole ever made and spurred the publication of three scientific papers.
- The writing staff of the television show Futurama includes three members with Ph.D.s and seven with masters' degrees, and the episode The Prisoner of Benda features a mathematical theorem proved by one of those writers (Ken Keeler, PhD mathematician). In the episode, characters' minds are swapped, but the swapping mechanism only allows any given pair of minds to be swapped once (i.e. "no backsies"). Keeler proved that any such permutation of minds and bodies can be restored by bringing in two new members to the group, which resolves the plot and restores the status quo at the end of the episode.
|| This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
- [Rey, on the left, and Kylo Ren, on the right, from the Star Wars series, are facing one another and wielding lightsabers:]
- Rey: Kylo, we shouldn't fight! Let's set aside our differences and work together to measure the local properties of space, just in case someone in the far future is watching from another galaxy and wants our help to constrain the expansion rate!
- [Caption below the panel:]
- The new Star Wars totally panders to cosmologists.
Don't be a jerk.
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