Watch a NASA scientist school the empire on how to build a better death star
Watch a NASA scientist school the empire on how to build a better death star (Serious Cat via Flickr/Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)
Watch a NASA scientist school the empire on how to build a better death star
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The Death Star of the movies might be one of the most terrifying weapons of mass destruction ever created. But it's clear that the moon-sized space station wasn't the most well-thought-out venture. After all, what good is a planet-destroying weapon if it can be taken down by one measly little X-Wing? As it turns out, the Empire totally overlooked another design.  It would have been faster, cheaper and more effective.  It could have simply built the Death Star around an asteroid.

The biggest problem with the Death Star (aside from that pesky exhaust port blasted apart by Luke Skywalker) is that building it would have been monstrously expensive. It is as big as a moon.  And it was built from scratch.  (Not to mention that the Empire also created a backup. It was stashed in orbit around Endor). To build two massive space weapons in such a short period of time would have wrapped up such a huge amount of money.  So their destruction likely decimated the Galactic Economy.  And it would have happened overnight.  This is what Matthew Braga writes for Motherboard. In fact, Zachary Feinstein, an economist and associate professor at Washington University in St. Louis, did the math.  He found that destroying the Death Star might have been Emperor Palpatine's final revenge against the Rebel Alliance.  Even as the good guys celebrated their victory, the loss of the Death Star would send them struggling to prevent a galaxy-wide economic depression.

"We found that the Rebel Alliance would need to prepare a bailout of at least 15 percent, and likely at least 20 percent, of [Galactic Gross Product] in order to mitigate the systemic risks and the sudden and catastrophic economic collapse," Feinstein wrote in a new paper.  It was published to the arXiv preprint server.  It is a publication for papers that have not been peer-reviewed.  "Without such funds at the ready, it is likely the Galactic economy would enter an economic depression of astronomical proportions."
 
"If one wanted to build a Death Star, you didn't build it by launching a bunch of stuff off a planet," Muirhead says.  He spoke in a video for Wired. "You went and got yourself an asteroid and built it from that." In addition to the stability an asteroid core would add to the Death Star's structure, Muirhead says that it would also provide all the assets a Sith Lord would need to realize his evil engineering vision.  Those assets include raw metals, organic compounds and even water for the future space station.
 
Surprisingly, this isn't just a thought experiment for Muirhead.  It's his job. Muirhead is a chief engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  He is actually in charge of NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission.  It aims to send a crewed mission to land on a deep-space asteroid.  The goal is to achieve the feat by 2023 and drag it back to Earth orbit.
 
While NASA isn't planning on building its own Death Stars any time soon, the Rebel Alliance should consider itself lucky that Muirhead doesn't work for the Empire.

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/tween78/watch-nasa-scientist-school-empire-how-build-better-death-star/

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why should the Rebel Alliance consider itself lucky that Muirhead doesn't work for the Empire?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (89)
  • vincents-1-bar
    1/14/2016 - 08:44 p.m.

    The Rebel Alliance is fortunate that Muirhead does not work for the Empire, because Muirhead is an expert in Death Star schematics. On paragraph 5, it says that Muirhead is a chief engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. By learning about asteroid projection, information is provided about Death Stars.

    The article was an interesting description of how scientists today can use logical research and innovation to theoretically create something from the movies.

  • jacks-6-bar
    1/14/2016 - 10:57 p.m.

    The Rebel Alliance should consider itself Muirhead didn't work for the empire because he has a much more practical idea for a "Death Star" which would be much more efficient. The article states that "In addition to the stability an asteroid core would add to the Death Star's structure, Muirhead says that it would also provide all the assets a Sith Lord would need to realize his evil engineering vision. Those assets include raw metals, organic compounds and even water for the future space station." Muirhead demonstrates in this quote the supreme benefits of building off of what his hypothesis is is much more efficient than the massive Death Star in Episode IV and VI -- an asteroid. He claims it would provide infrastructure for a Death Star, reducing the mass of materials and therefore expenses it would take to build it. Also, it conveniently would be filled with metals, important compounds, and other things of use that would be useful to the Empire. Rather than buying materials, one may extract them from the asteroid itself (making a significant difference in price)! Asteroids may even contain water, so the Empire wouldn't have to set up supply lines for it, taking even more money to spend. All in all, the Death Star is unrealistically expensive and large, but Muirhead devised more plans for a more realistic, efficient one, far superior in benefits to the original, saving money and having many conveniences. There wouldn't be much weakness for the Rebel Alliance to penetrate if Muirhead and his plans were a reality in the movie.
    Not only was the article interesting to hear what a realistic Death Star would look like and how much more beneficial it would be to the Emipire compared to the original, but it was also entertaining. Being a Star Wars fan, I loved seeing this scientific recreation, making the Death Star even more superior.

  • josepht-2-bar
    1/15/2016 - 12:05 a.m.

    The Rebel Alliance is lucky that Muirhead does not work for the Empire, because if they did they could make more Death Stars, and faster. Because they already have a base of the foundation of the Death Star, and they would have raw metals and water for the Death Star."If one wanted to build a Death Star, you didn't build it by launching a bunch of stuff off a planet, You went and got yourself an asteroid and built it from that." In addition to the stability an asteroid core would add to the Death Star's structure, Muirhead says that it would also provide all the assets a Sith Lord would need to realize his evil engineering vision. Those assets include raw metals, organic compounds and even water for the future space station." I think it is interesting that Muirhead would research and find a better way of making a better Death Star.

  • alic-nar
    1/15/2016 - 08:39 a.m.

    this was intesting even though I really don't like star wars

  • jasmines-nar
    1/15/2016 - 09:56 a.m.

    The Rebel Alliance is lucky that he doesn't work for the empire because if he did it would put the the Rebel alliance in trouble.

  • eleganceb-nar
    1/15/2016 - 10:00 a.m.

    idk

  • isabellas-nar
    1/15/2016 - 10:02 a.m.

    I guess they should be lucky because his version is more efficient.

  • jacksonv-nar
    1/15/2016 - 10:03 a.m.

    Because if he did the death star would be almost indestructible.

  • jackg-nar
    1/15/2016 - 10:05 a.m.

    This was a interesting article. They should consider themselves lucky because if Murhead did work for them he would be able to release things that they did not want them to release, or also make things that were suppost to be special edition but then he starts making the item regularly.

  • kairik-nar
    1/15/2016 - 10:08 a.m.

    It's because he is super good with rockets and things. So that means the Death Star would cause many more deaths. And Luke Skywalker either A. would of died or B. he would of gone to the dark side.

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