Doctor Who and Star Wars fans clash at sci-fi convention
Norwich Evening News: Police were called to a British sci-fi convention following reports that rival fan-clubs had become involved in a violent dispute.
A group of visiting Doctor Who fans were reportedly arguing with a local Star Wars enthusiasts’ club at the Norwich Star Wars Club event, held in the University of East Anglia, police said. But after talking to witnesses and reviewing CCTV police officers said no actual assault took place.
More than a dozen sci-fi fans from both groups – including several in fancy dress – were involved in a bitter exchange outside the venue. It was allegedly sparked over a disagreement involving someone asking Doctor Who actor Graham Cole for an autograph.
Photo: Darth Vader and a squadron of stormtroopers. (Joel Ryan/PA)
So much anger in the world.
Conception leads to fear. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. Suffering leads to an ultrasound picture that freaks the parents right out.
In what may be my favorite Star Wars-themed science article ever written (and that’s saying a lot), Kyle Hill analyzes Han Solo’s oft-criticized description of completing the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs … and discovers he was probably a time-traveler.
The problem arises because a parsec is a unit of distance, not time. So Han’s statement implies that he found a Kessel Run shortcut. In the Star Wars universe, this famous smugglers’ route skirts dangerously close to some black holes. So if the Millennium Falcon can keep from being sucked in, it must be really fast.
And that’s where it gets cool:
So for the purposes of calculating the Kessel Run, let’s say the Millennium Falcon is the fastest ship ever. Somehow able to withstand the forces involved (perhaps it has something to do with that sweet tractor-beam tech), we can calculate what happens when Han and his baby go 99.9999999 percent the speed of light, or 0.999999999c.
Funny things happen to time when you start traveling close to the speed of light. Time runs normally for you, but everyone else moves forward at an increased rate, covering years while you only experience minutes. What does this time dilation mean for Han?
Because the shortened Kessel Run spans 12 parsecs (39.6 light-years), a ship traveling nearly light-speed would take a little more than 39.6 years to get there. Factoring in time dilation, anyone watching the Kessel Run would see Solo speeding along for almost 40 years, but Solo himself would experience only a little more than half a day.
If you haven’t picked out the potential pitfall for the Star Wars timeline I’ll spell it out: In the time it takes Han to complete just one Kessel Run, the rest of the galaxy battles, negotiates, and force-chokes its way through almost 40 years — and pushes the date of Solo’s birth 40 years further into the past.
It gets better. Go read the rest at Wired.com.
I promise you that George Lucas anticipated none of this.
The Empire Strikes Back
Now that the White House has announced that the federal government will not build a Death Star, the Empire has put out its own press release. Apparently, Palpatine & Co. sense weakness on the part of the Obama administration. All I can say is that if Alderaan—despite the lack of weapons—could be obliterated by the Empire, we aren’t necessarily going to be spared.
"No Death Star for You!"
I certainly want to give props to Paul Shawcross for the informative, humorous and fun-loving way in which he wrote his response, but from a Keynesian standpoint, the arguments he makes are surely inadequate. Shawcross cites the massive price tag associated with building a Death Star, but according to Keynesian principles, we ought to worry much less about the deficit these days, and more about throwing piles of money into job-creating enterprises. Building a Death Star, as I explained in my post discussing the petition, should build oodles of jobs according to Keynesian theory, and Keynesians ought to be outraged that this administration is failing to take the principles spelled out in the General Theory of Employment to the next level. Indeed, I daresay that Keynesians ought to find the administration’s lack of faith in their principles disturbing.
Shawcross appears to be repelled by the idea of building a massive space station that is capable of blowing up planets, but of course, there is no reason why the Death Star should be tasked to blow up planets. Recall Paul Krugman’s comment that we ought to organize our public works plans as though we are supposed to respond to a fake alien invasion. Emphasis on the word “fake.” There can be no bigger, better or more comprehensive response to a fake alien invasion than to build a Death Star and since (one hopes) there are no actual aliens on their way to attack us, there is no need whatsoever to equip the Death Star with the ability to destroy planets.
Shawcross also states that the Obama administration does not want to build a Death Star “with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship.” I applaud this sentiment, but of course, we don’t have to do any such thing. From a design perspective, the Death Star can be improved upon, and blithely assuming otherwise just will not do. Besides, in addition to all of the jobs that can be created by building a Death Star in the first place, we can create even more by employing more scientists and engineers to come up with a design that removes the flaw Shawcross refers to, and which I referred to in my original post regarding this issue.
(I suppose it would be nitpicky for me to reply to Shawcross’s observation that “the United States doesn’t have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs” by noting—as many, many, many others have—that a parsec is a unit of distance, not a unit of time. I know that George Lucas got this wrong too, but we expect better from the Obama administration. After all, we pay their salaries with our tax money.)
In any event, now that the administration has come out against the construction of a Death Star, I propose that we get private enterprise involved to construct it. I look forward to the day when we can point with pride to the creation of the Death Star, and then tell the Obama administration that they didn’t build that; someone else made that happen.
Incidentally, I am partial to this Death Star above all others. But then, I am no Keynesian.
Democracy in Action
The White House has stated that it will respond to any and all online petitions that garner at least 25,000 signatures.
One such petition has not only met, but exceeded the threshold: A petition to have the United States build a Death Star.
I know that you think that this is crazy, but none other than Paul Krugman has advocated the following more than once in order to give a boost to the economy:
PAUL KRUGMAN, NEW YORK TIMES: This is hard to get people to do, much better, obviously, to build bridges and roads and healthcare clinics and schools. But my proposed, I actually have a serious proposal which is that we have to get a bunch of scientists to tell us that we’re facing a threatened alien invasion, and in order to be prepared for that alien invasion we have to do things like build high-speed rail. And the, once we’ve recovered, we can say, “Look, there were no aliens.”
But look, I mean, whatever it takes because right now we need somebody to spend, and that somebody has to be the U.S. government.
Now, here’s the thing: If we were to actually face an alien invasion, I highly doubt that the biggest agenda item on our to-do list would be to build high-speed rail. In fact, I daresay that a bigger and more pressing agenda item would be to build a Death Star. Not only could we equip ourselves to annihilate enemy spaceships once they have come close to Earth, we could get the Death Star to travel at light speed to enemy planets and obliterate them, no matter how peaceful those planets may turn out to be, and no matter how few weapons they might have.
So I do hope that the Obama administration will—like a bunch of good Keynesians—follow Krugman’s lead and announce that in anticipation of an alien threat, they will build a Death Star, if only to create jobs and stimulate the economy. I just hope that the Obamaesque Death Star won’t come with a thermal exhaust port that is at least two meters wide. I hear that if you practice gunning down womp rats in your T-16 back in Beggar’s Canyon, firing a couple of torpedoes that will destroy the exhaust port and the Death Star with it will be no problem whatsoever.
I mean, I would hate for the Obamaesque Death Star to become some kind of latter-day Solyndra. Wouldn’t you?
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