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January 30, 1997 - Image 21

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-01-30

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108--TheMihigan Daily Weeken Ia -e ThursdayJanrar 30, 1997




TheMiq igap Daily WepenI 1

x r

Scientists decipher complex,
real-life physics of film trilogy

By Eugene Bowen
Daily Arts Writer
Few people get excited about the sci-
ences. Yet in viewing "Star Wars," many
can find enjoyment in writers' and
actors'use - and misuse - of the laws
of science to make the
unreal.,s Wm true.
But perhaps most fan-
tastic about "Star Wars"
events is that slowly but
surely scientists worldwide
are making the impossible
possible. Barely half a cen-
tury ago, outer space trav-
el, supersonic airplanes
and weapons of mass
destruction were but a myth. So it isn't
difficult to envision a future of cruising
around the galaxy faster than the speed of
light, running our own galactic Death Star
space station or owning an official C-3PO

to pick locks for us.
"Nothing's impossible," University
physics Professor Fred Bechetti
warned. "Improbable, yes. Impossible,
LSA senior Bryan Mendez, a
Weekendl physics/astrophysics/music
..E2 triple major and admitted
sci-fi buff, feels that part of
the greatness of "Star Wars"
is that it avoids getting
bogged down in science.
But an impressed physics
Professor Emeritus Robert
Lewis admitted. "The peo-
ple who write these movies
are very savvy. They use the
vocabulary of science in a very creative
way. It's not all tre, but it's a very clever
extension of truth."
But mistakes are still made.
"In 'Star Wars' all of the explosions

are noisy," noted Elizabeth Smith, a
University graduate student studying
condensed matter physics. "But there
are no shock waves in space. So explo-
sions don't make noise."
Mendez remembered that, in "Star
Wars," exploding ships would stop in
mid-space. "But the masses from the
ships should continue to move at the
same velocity in the same direction as
the ship was before it exploded."
Sophomore Rober Bochenek, a
physics/astronomy/philosophy triple
major said that "when something burns
in 'Star Wars' the fire is red. But there's
no oxygen in space for that to occur."
As for the biological aspects of the
"Star Wars" trilogy, Astronomy
Professor Richard Sears noted that the
possibility of life on other planets is
"We have found some massive planets
outside of this solar system in the past
couple of years, but we've found nothing
terrestrial like Earth," he said. "But we
are certainly getting closer to that."
Still, Bochenek questioned the
humanoid features of the different "Star
Wars" creatures.

One of the Imperial Storm Troopers rides
from "Star Wars: The Special Edition."

a huge beast of burden in a new scene

"Virtually all of them have the two-
eyes, two-ears, two-nose-atop-a-single
head feature of human-like creatures"
Bochenek said. "From an old, far-away
galaxy I'd expect a little more varia-
Mendez marveled at how the differ-
ent creatures speak different languages,
yet understand each other. He noted that
Chewbacca can't speak English, and his
human friends don't grunt, but they still
communicate well.
Some of the "Star Wars" mistakes are
a tad more in-depth. Mendez recounts
the Cantina scene, where Han Solo
brags that his ship can make a run in 12
parsecs. Problem? Parsecs is a measure
of distance, not time.
But, Mendez said that this may turn
out to not be a mistake after all. In an

esssit e . rina

! es.

area of physics known as special rela-
tivity (first proposed by Albert
Einstein), if an object moves at a fast-
enough velocity, the distance between
that object and another is actually short-
But Han Solo is no relativity genius.
"Yeah, the 'Star Trek' writers proba-
bly screwed up,' Mendez said. "But
even if they did, it's interesting how
even their mistakes can be explained
with real science.'
And therein lies the beauty of sci-
ence. If science-fiction excitement
comes from misconstruing scientific
facts, then the actual sciences must be
even more exciting if they can prove
that the mistakes are not wrong.
"Physics itself is strange enough that
we don't even really need sci-fi," Dr.
Lewis said. "Why do we have to make
up some sort of artificial science when
the real stuff is itself so startling?"
Science buffs everywhere would
agree. Astronomers: Visionaries search-
ing for that which lies beyond our world.
Physicists: Those who bring the vast,
immutable laws of matter, electricity and
magnetism under the control of mankind.
Chemists: Lords of the molecule, forever
probing the basis of matter interactions.
Biologists: Masters of life and death.
their characteristics and their variations.
Engineers: The practical scientists bring-
ing lofty theory to rest upon a plane of
user-friendliness. Mathematicians:
Gatekeepers of the necessary language of
science - numbers, functions and sets
are their domain.
With friends like them, who needs

'Star Wars' groupies
discussion clubs on
By Michael Zilberman beginning. Profane
For the Daily engaging in such ac
Those searching for a human incarnation of "Star Wars" er member writes a
imprint, need look no further than Archangel Baldur. A very offenders are subse
brief resume of the Archangel would list him as a Master of the IRC channel).
Order in the second aegis of the Obsidian Temple, and one of Baldur's knowle
the key people in the Order of the Hallowed Mission, with a June 3, 1996: This
Force - controlled clone in Imperial Intelligence. He is also righthand-man, G
a proud PC owner. -. : branc
Born somewhere between the releases of Weekend "Emp
"The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of ,'Tempi
the Jedi," Baldur is one of the thousands of "Py
people across the world whose relationship Penns
with the Galaxy Far Far Away is so intense wheth
and personal that the word "fans" can barely Obsid
be used to describe them. In a sense, they are "Forty
co-authors. Baldu
The Obsidian Temple is an Internet-based The
club with a fluctuating number of members (Temp
(currently around 300, a few of them e-mail
University students), devoted exclusively to extending the nary facility."
universe of "Star Wars" beyond the tidbits of social struc- Baldur estimate{
ture provided by the three available installments. Kugel/Pyr takes ab
Thebsidians socialize by meticulously keeping and is in danger. I don't
exchanging diaries written entirely "in character" of their hard a job."
Star Wars alter egos. An obligatory q
"We get people from Germany, Russia, Iraq even," Baldur followed - won't i
said in an interview with The Michigan Daily. "Some stay, pie extra verses?
some don't. There's an unchanging
Inner Circle, however"
When asked to outline in brief the Our club has no
state of the universe inhabited by theV
Obsidian Temple, Baldur said that: The real-lifebenefts.
time is about 15 years after the end of
"Return of the Jedi." Emperor All ou eti
Palpatine is dead, naturally, and theJ
Empire is a disorganized mass of scat- re ap ct "
tered fleets. The Rebels have proceeded -e
to establish The New Republic, a "puny - Archangel Baldur
bureaucracy." Internet group manager
The Obsidians are a group of the
dark-side Jedi-based on the planet

set up
e-mail exchanges are prohibited. Those
tivities are executed (which means anoth-
graphic story about their death, and the
quently banished from the mailing list and
edge of the club's history runs back to
is the date when one Melan Pyr and his
ita ("a quiet, cryptic, evil creature")
hed off from the much larger
eror's Hammer" society and formed the
r's real name is Ronald Kugel, he lives in
ylvania," Baldur said, when asked
er he knew anything about his fellow
ians' real-life personae. How old is he?
y-two. That's what his wife told me;'
ir said.
evil Gita is 12. A head of another aegis
ple's division) is 32, and, "judging from his
i address, works in some kind of a veteri-
that the amount of Net posting done by
out 10 hours a day. "If he quits, the Temple
think anyone can replace him. It's just too
uestion about the "Star Wars" re-release
t be like an edition of.the Bible with a cou-
"No, I think it's great they are
redoing it. It needs more aliens. That
part of 'Star Wars' was always the
underdeveloped one."
Can the 1999 release of a com-
pletely new episode mess up the per-
fectly constructed world of the
Temple? "I doubt the Club will still
exist," Baldur noted. "We've been
active for eight months, and that's
pretty long."
At the present moment, however,
the Obsidian Temple appears to be in
fine shape. The members have man-
wo neighboring star systems. Back in our
ep a total of about 30 homepages.
intain three," Baldur added. "A lot of peo-
ubs where you don't have to do anything.
nk just by e-mailing the headmaster. Our
ife benefits of any kind. All you get is

;~t w-tttp !/memtbers.ao.ccmltowderpurlpage-2
JaLAYY' we Jrd~virrpli:wurr'tfyjljAd
The Obs
-U Obulm a hpia is *pea tifo lieo hn .
Wbmt you ca get in the. OT.,
. Aa Cars curb ~4t toU~U
pmnat~4 oas'w+ hial. of othui. .n'
m mi nkeflwt Arad !o ai3 iI lt ci
tam vho we4mmre C ge us b bo
vvw1 atdtcytp yOmC Tno!'owd& or'
medibs ,we fim bn termtrwdm m
O* Ipfthsen a 07 fe~tut ta iem me!
to" s Comsnrxs am . 'VAILs
! Got vuow !CoofEAvw. W. e
obaineGD*atof Mslt e atHmm
qp sta t u eX gtW f m Gl
Want to join the Empire? You tar


Sex Matters

The Ann Arbor
AIDS Memorial
Quilt Display
February 6-9
UM Track & Tennis Bldg.
1000 S. State St.
Opening Ceremony:
Thursday, February 6 at 6:30 pm


("Moonlet, actually") Daemon in the Ambarri system.
So, ever run across the now-middle-aged Luke Skywalker?
"No' Baldur said.
The rules of the game are simple, even though the princi-
pal story has been so obsessively developed that newcomers
have a hard time adjusting to the "realities" of the place. The
Obsidian Magna Carta makes a few things clear from the

aged to conquer t
dimension, they ke
"I personally ma
pie prefer giant clu
You advance in ran
club has no real-i

Spiritual Strength
for Survival...
A service of hope in the
face of AIDS
Tuesday, February 4
Michigan Union
Kuenzel Rm. 6:30 pm
Brief opening, candlelight march,
music, poetry and more. River Huston
Wednesday, February 5
Michigan Union
Ballroom 8 pm
This poet-activist speaks from
AIDS Awarnes WekGroup Ann Arbor her personal experiences living
Jaycees Foundaion * HARC - Michigan Union with AIDS. River reaches out
Program Board- Office of theVP for Student with a positive message of life..
Aff - Tree of Life MCC - University Health
-5r~e-MOk+~prth s1 11&e1#i



flignil$2 9:30pm


". . committed to establishing and
strengthening ties between students
and alumni..
What: Mass Meeting
When: Sunday
February 2, 1997
Where: Alumni Center,
200 Fletcher

,." r T ,
.. --
1 °-


first. foor of tt~e, Micg an Unio

on thefi

P .e'AW Oft Ck* N 4 Mf"fs cart a. *mftoft. hctft atMft'A aN ON& em- 0 Wt 4wNN

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