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Science of Star Wars: An Astrophysicist's Independent Examination of Space Travel, Aliens, Planets and Robots as Portrayed in the Star Wars Films and Books

Science of Star Wars: An Astrophysicist's Independent Examination of Space Travel, Aliens, Planets and Robots as Portrayed in the Star Wars Films and Books

4.1 17
by Jeanne Cavelos, Doug Ordunio (Read by)

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How possible is this galaxy "far, far away"?

In this entertaining and informative work, former NASA scientist and Star Wars fan Jeanne Cavelos explores the scientific possibilities and questions raised by the Star Wars films and books. From Star Wars: A New Hope to The Phantom Menace, Cavelos leaves no stone unturned in her attempt to


How possible is this galaxy "far, far away"?

In this entertaining and informative work, former NASA scientist and Star Wars fan Jeanne Cavelos explores the scientific possibilities and questions raised by the Star Wars films and books. From Star Wars: A New Hope to The Phantom Menace, Cavelos leaves no stone unturned in her attempt to question the basic scientific principles underlying the technology of America's most popular science fiction series. Enlisting the aid of leading experts from today's cutting-edge scientific disciplines, Cavelos writes in an accessible, easy-to-read style that will appeal to both young science enthusiasts and the most wizened scholars.

This is science at its best. Here you'll learn: the principles of quantum physics as exemplified by the Millennium Falcon; the latest technological advances in the field of robotics; how close we are to creating our own R2-D2 — and C-3PO — like robots; Einstein's theory of relativity and how it affects space travel in the films; all about wormholes, black holes, hyper drive, and so many other mind-blowing scientific facts. The perfect gift for the budding young scientist, science enthusiasts everywhere, and all Star Wars fans, The Science of Star Wars is a fantastic book that even Yoda would love.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Not So Long Ago, Not So Far Away
Even though I was only 11 years old when I first saw Star Wars, I had two reactions to the scene of Luke Skywalker zipping across the Tatooine desert in his land speeder. I first thought, "Cool! I want one of those." My next thought was, "How does that work? Every hovercraft I've ever seen creates a seal between the craft and the ground to contain the air." I was a precocious child.

Silly me. It wasn't hovering at all. It was defying gravity — a significantly more complicated feat, but one that easily explains the lack of a hovercraft skirt. And according to Jeanne Cavelos in The Science of Star Wars , such an antigravity vehicle would need only to carry around a cargo of "exotic matter" equal to its own mass to counteract the planet's gravity. "Exotic matter" — the real term for "any material that pushes objects apart, that has in essence repulsive gravity or antigravity" — it turns out, is a theoretical probability. Sure, science has never detected, let alone seen or confined, any of this negative matter (not to be confused with antimatter), but on paper, it's out there. So while on earth we are a long, long way from flying without worrying about Bernoulli's principle, maybe a more technologically advanced civilization millions of light years away has mastered antigravity.

The possibility of worlds as fantastical as Tatooine, of ships like the Millennium Falcon hitting light speed, of light sabers, truly intelligent robots, and socially evolved alien species is the beauty of books like The Science ofStarWars . Adding even a hint of science fact to the far-out science fiction of George Lucas makes it all that much more magical.

And as she did in The Science of the X-Files , Cavelos packs a lot of facts into The Science of Star Wars . Breaking down the fictional Star Wars realm into chapters on "Planetary Environments," "Aliens," "Droids," "Spaceships and Weapons," and "The Force," Cavelos draws on geology, astronomy, cosmology, ecology, biology, computer science, physics, astrophysics, and psychology (to name just a few) to apply the latest scientific thinking to topics as diverse as the Jawas' glowing eyes and the gait of C-3PO.

Star Wars is escapist mythology. But after decades of development, it is also a well-thought-out and rich alternative universe. The Science of Star Wars makes the details of that unreal world more real than you may have imagined.

—Greg Sewell

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The opening in May of the new Star Wars film has hardcore fans in a frenzy. Timed to release with The Phantom Menace, this book follows in the tradition of The Physics of Star Trek and Caveloss own The Science of the X-Files. The author examines five major areasplanetary environments, aliens, droids, space ships and weapons, and the Forcein sufficient detail to satisfy even knowledgeable fans. Take Lukes desert home world, Tatooine. When Star Wars first came out, scientists doubted the existence of planets in other solar systems, but since 1995 several have been found. Could a planet form around a binary star? Yes, but due to gravitational forces only if the stars were very far apart or very close, so as Luke gazes out at his two suns setting, he sees an accurate portrayal of a binary system. Most of the Star Wars aliens fare equally well. The Wookies keen sense of smell, for example, would give them an alternative means of communication so that they might need to vocalize only with grunts and howls. Can the force be with you? Physicist David Bohm posited a quantum potential force that would interpenetrate and bind together everything in the universe, but only Yoda knows if we can direct it with our minds. Caveloss engaging style makes this book a treat, with no science background necessary. (May) FYI: The Science of the X-Files has been nominated for a 1998 Bram Stoker Award in the Nonfiction category.
School Library Journal
YA-Cavelos, an astrophysicist, mathematician, writer, and teacher, examines the science behind George Lucas's popular series of movies, comparing his fictional universe with the universe as we currently understand it. She points out that in the two decades since the debut of Star Wars: A New Hope, science has come much closer to making Lucas's vision a reality. Rapid interstellar travel is theoretically possible. Extraterrestrial life is apparently more abundant than previously thought. Robots seem to need emotions to learn and interact effectively with humans. There may even be-dare we say it?-a Force. The writing is clear and geared toward readers with "no particular science background" although some is necessary. The author lightens the jargon with humor, and her examples for scientific principals and phenomena are apt. For example, Schrodinger's paradox is illustrated not by a cat in a box, but by Princess Leia in a cell. This book will appeal to the many fans of the films.-Susan Salpini, Purcellville Library, VA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Cavelos has taught astronomy at Michigan State and Cornell, trained astronauts for NASA, and written about the science of the television series . She is also a great fan of the movies. She explains to non-technical readers how the course of science might soon intersect with such fantasies as interstellar travel, robots capable of thought and emotion, habitable alien planets, bizarre intelligent life forms, high-tech weapons and spacecraft, and advanced psychokinetic abilities. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Christian Science Monitor
...[A] semi-serious examination of the plausibility of some of ["Star Wars'"] fantastic inventions....The style, as might be expected, is light and breezy, but rarely trivializes the material.

Product Details

Books on Tape, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Unabridged, 7 Cassettes
Product dimensions:
4.13(w) x 7.02(h) x 2.41(d)

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Meet the Author

Jeanne Cavelos is a writer, editor, teacher and former NASA scientist. She began her professional life as an astrophysicist and mathematician and now teaches full time.

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The Science of Star Wars: An Astrophysicist's Independent Examination of Space Travel, Aliens, Planets, and Robots as Portrayed in the Star Wars Films 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Jay_S More than 1 year ago
The Science of Star Wars by Jeanne Cavelos is a good book about everything star wars. The average star wars fan will find this book very interesting if they want to learn more about star wars and that's what makes this book good. However, some parts of the book get a little boring and its kinda sad how she spends most of the book disproving everything in the movie. Other then that the book was pretty good. 
Olivia_L More than 1 year ago
Overall, this book was really interesting to read through. although it was slow at some points, I really enjoyed the connections the author made with real life.  After reading the novel, I was left slightly depressed at the way the author made it seem so impossible for anything in Star Wars to ever happen in real life. Being a huge Star Wars fan, that was a real mood killer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This novel was very interesting! I am a fan of Star of Wars and found this book to be very entertaining as well as very informative. This book covers every aspect of Star Wars and she explains every concept very well. My favorite part was, the chapter about aliens. The author talked about the Wookies and Jar- Jar Binks. If you love Star Wars and want to learn more about it, I totally recommend this book.  (Kayla S)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
the science of Star Wars, Jeanne Cavelos, is a very interesting read. it was very factual and full of scientific laws and theories about how the fiction of Star Wars could be the actual science of tomorrow. Jeanne Cavelos fascination with Star Wars inspired her to question the scientific probability of Star Wars. She questions the possibility of alien life, the likelihood of developing intelligent droids, traveling at the speed of light, and if "the force" could actually exist, to name a few. her analysis examines how modern science compares to Star Wars technology. She used the expertise of physicists and scientists to research the possibility of making parts of Star Wars a reality. Her comparison of Einstein's theories of relativity, to light speed travel, questions whether this could really ever happen, but also makes us think about that maybe it could. Her use of physicist's research and opinions to try and make scientific sense out of "the force" will leave you wondering if it can even exist. She tries to explain that this phenomenon does not make make any scientific sense and seems impossible but also offers hope through the quantum theory that maybe everything in the universe is interconnected and it can. throughout the book she challenges us to challenge science to make sense out of some of the things in Star Wars showed us. I found the book to be very interesting because I never thought of Star Wars in the scientific sense. I would recommend this book to readers who are interested in the laws of science, and also to those who are huge Star Wars fans. (kyle m) 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Outstanding More than 1 year ago
The novel The Science of Star Wars a very intriguing novel and it grabs the reader’s attention very well. Overall, this novel is very interesting on a scale of one to ten I give this novel and eight because it is that great. The book is the best book that I have read in any of my science classes and maybe in any of my classes. Although I read this for a project, I felt as I was reading for fun over the summer because it was just that good. I recommend reading this novel if you like reading about planets, aliens, and the jedi, the planets, the drones, and the wookiees in Star Wars. This book can be read by kids of all ages!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
But does it mention any of the prequel species such as Nautolans? Because I've been trying to find out if a sentient amphibian could exist, but all my science teacher could give me was a theological answer... That being said, I WANT THIS.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kacy England More than 1 year ago
B n.n.m. nn n nnbbbbbnnvv fffu.. vnbbnnbbbbgbbgbbbbbbbbbbbbvbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb bbbbbbbggdf nnhnnn b bb tttbbnn vwss bbbbbbbvaabbbbbbbbvbbbbbbbbbbbbydsddccvxgbhbfccnbbbbnynnbbbbbbbbbnbcsvbbbnbnnnnbnbnnnnnnb
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lauren Harshman More than 1 year ago
this is all bound to happen! i swear!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Paige Scibilia More than 1 year ago
I have seen the overveiw I want that book BAD.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
pccoder More than 1 year ago
I guess considering the title, it shouldn't surprise me that the author made so many references to Star Wars in this book. I didn't feel like I really learned anything new, but it was still interesting to hear the author describe the parallels between science and science fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bmac68 More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this book a lot. Well written seems very well done. Good science without being to complex. If you like science and science fiction this is a good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i liked this book very intreresting never looked at a book or even star wars in that perspective before. or even basic science. do recommend. very interesting any one should read this book even if they dont like star wars. it talks about all perspectives of star wars and the realism of those sorts of planets or earth like planets, intellegent beings, and other things on star wars expecialy the force. READ