Star wars: where science meets imagination

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National Geographic, Oct 4, 2005 - Performing Arts - 208 pages
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Just saying the words Star Wars evokes images of whooshing light sabers, Luke Skywalker's landspeeder racing above the sand, and R2D2 and C-3PO interfacing with the computers of the Imperial forces to shut down the evil computer systems and save Luke and Leia from a trash-compactor doom. The incredible use of science and technology is one of the major fascinations of the Star Wars films. Now, Lucasfilm, Ltd. and the esteemed Museum of Science, Boston, have joined forces to bring us a four-year, nine-city traveling exhibit of the same name opening October 2005 that explores the fascinating real science behind the magic of the films. Inside this official companion book's covers you'll find technologies that turn fiction into reality.

The book raises and answers questions that will touch all aspects of our lives. Getting from place to place is essential for all us. We need to get from home to work, or school, or the store, and more and more, we rely on sophisticated technologies to do so. In the Star Wars universe, all kinds of vehicles use an anti-gravity repulsorlift technology to speed above the ground and even fly into space. How do designers in the real world make vehicles that don't touch the ground? What would the world be like if everyone had vehicles that combined the ease of use of a car with the three-dimensional flight abilities of a helicopter? Readers can see designs for ion engines, antimatter drives, and nuclear engines that aren't science fiction but actual innovative propulsion mechanisms in use and under consideration for spacecraft today by NASA and others. In addition, readers are privy to designs for vertical cities of the future that will make getting around by personal hovercraft a necessity, cities which may indeed require physiological adaptations for us to survive and thrive in them.

Essays also cover the technology that puts the war in Star Wars versus real-world tools of warfare. Soldiers today don't use light sabers, but they are employing weaponry based on energy, not projectiles. And did you know that the government is developing exoskeletons for soldiers, making storm troopers our reality for the future?

Robots have been mainstays of science fiction for so long that it's hard to remember what the reality of robotics is today. Three critical qualities that Star Wars sweetheart R2-D2 embodies are mobility (he can navigate easily through the human world); perception (he can sense his environment and react to it accordingly); and cognition (he can understand what people are doing and telling him). It seems to be only a matter of time until we can create similar machines that are as intelligent as we are. How will we treat machines that can think and act independently? A lineup of several Star Wars robots, including C-3PO and

R2- D2, demonstrate variety and show the development of various robots in the Star Wars universe. Side by side with this, readers can see some of the dizzying array of robots that are currently in use or on the drawing boards, from factory robots to personal assistants.

And robotics touches medicine as well, prosthetics are being developed that are wired to allow the brain to send nerve signals that can be understood and reacted to by the artificial appendage, making Luke's new hand a reality. There are even microscopic robots being tested that can be injected into the bloodstream that will be able to perform open-heart surgery from the inside, without a single incision.

But such advances raise huge questions, and experts will discuss the benefits or dangers of implementing the kinds of future technologies envisioned in the book. Things like commercial space flight, personal hovercraft, robot servants, and trains that levitate by magnetism are all currently being debated and worked on, and the book accesses the people behind these technologies and gets them to tell the stories of what happens to their solutions after they're introduced into the world of people.

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Contents

Foreword by Ed Rodley
12
Introduction by Anthony Daniels cspo
14
Getting Around
22
Copyright

23 other sections not shown

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About the author (2005)

Lucasfilm, Ltd. is one of the world's leading film and entertainment companies. Founded by George Lucas in 1971, it is a privately held, fully integrated entertainment company.

The Museum of Science, Boston, is one of the world's premier scientific institutions, with an institutional focus on hands-on engagement with science and technology.

Anthony Daniels began his acting career in 1973 on the British stage. In 1975, his exceptional miming and vocal skills caught the attention of film director George Lucas, who cast him as the golden robot C-3PO in Star Wars. Daniels went on to become the only actor to appear in all six Star Wars films and is the only human to be inducted into the Robotics Hall of Fame. He tours the planet, lecturing on Star Wars and robotics.