Science (Non) Fiction

I’m constantly lamenting the fact that I am pop-culturally out of touch. I’m half a generation too old to be cool and half a generation too young to retire. I always find out about hip stuff when it’s no longer hip. (Or when it has a broken hip?) Except for Star Wars; I’ve been into that since I was a kid.

Therefore, I was very excited to come across something super cool that the rest of the world already knows about– Because Science! But let me assure you, even though I now know about it, this is very much a hip thing. And it’s really happening in a far out way!

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For the uninitiated– I know you’re out there, it’s okay, I won’t tell anyone– Because Science is a video series that teaches some really interesting science principles in the context of the burning questions of our age. For example:

  • Would the MST3K logo fit on the moon?
  • How many Fallout Nuka-Colas could you drink before dying?
  • How Long could Star-Lord survive in space unprotected?
  • Does Wonder Woman have the sharpest sword in the universe?

And, naturally, there are a lot of episodes dealing with the science of Star Wars, from Chewie’s Bowcaster, to hyperspace, to the Death Star.

Play this video, you will not regret it:

The host you see in the clip is Nerdist Science Editor Kyle Hill, and he has been making episodes since 2014. There are tons of them, which you can find on nerdist.com and his YouTube channel.  The entire library plus new episodes can be found at Project Alpha, I believe the next one comes out today.

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The show, with its simple format, is funny and informative and the five minute-ish episodes are perfect for people with short attention … hmmm, what was I saying?

 


Kyle on the Imperial Propoganda in the Rogue One poster0714B3B2-8839-486F-8586-772E22D0B920

“[Astrophysicist] Dr. Mack quickly calculated that the battle station in the poster, if the above size, would be less than 100 kilometers from the planet’s surface. That puts it well within the so-called Roche limit, or the distance at which an orbiting body will be ripped apart by its partner’s gravitational forces. So if that is the Death Star in the Rogue One poster as seen from the planet’s surface—not some photoshopped metaphor for the Empire’s influence—it would be quickly ripped apart by the planet’s gravitational forces (if the planet is roughly Earth-sized) and go on to form a series of rings. Rings littered with storm troopers and half-finished TIE fighter hangar bays.”

An Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Age

Unsurprisingly, Because Science has dedicated a number of episodes to the discussion of lightsabers. Kyle delves into what lightsabers are and what they are not. They are not sabers or lasers, he asserts, nor are they made of light, because light lacks mass. He says that, based on the main features of a lightsaber– heat, luminescent glow, and the ability to take on different colors– they must be made of plasma. He tells us that plasma, like what you find in neon signs, has all these features. In the video below, he describes how this could work with gases we have here on earth.

Other lightsaber-related episodes include Can We Have Lightsabers In Real Life? and Can a Lightsaber Block Bullets?

 

The video below is what made me immediately stop what I was doing and say to myself- “Stardust, you must write a post, and spread the good news of Because Science!”

In this video, Kyle discusses the Binary Sunset scene from A New Hope. He claims that as great as this epic hero’s journey moment is, it would be even better IRL because of— you guessed it— science. He explains that planets like Tatooine, a planet that orbits two stars, actually exist. Kepler 16b is an example of one such circumbinary planet. Kyle says that a planet of this type would have what are called stellar eclipses, that is, one sun would eclipse the other on certain days. This is like the solar eclipse the Northern Hemisphere got to see yesterday (don’t pity us in Australia, we have koalas and no regrets.) Only these stellar eclipses could be even cooler because rather than the moon blotting out the sun, it would be a shining sun passing between the planet and its other sun. Kyle discusses some of the different paths of orbit a binary star can take, resulting in any one of a number of cool sunset configurations. There’s no chance I can explain it as well as he does, so I suggest you watch it for yourself, which is kind of the point of this post anyway, to get you to go do that! To me, it’s just thrilling to think that somewhere in the universe, someone could have this moment:

 


Total side note: Worth watching all the episodes just the track the evolution of Kyle’s hair from 2014 to present.

 

You can follow Kyle on Twitter @Sci_Phile

 

 

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