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Because Science

Science Explains the Death Star’s OTHER Fatal Flaw

The Star Wars super weapons known as Death Stars have been overly analyzed for over 40 years now. In that time, fans and even other movies in the franchise have broken them down, sized them up, and noted their various weaknesses and design flaws. We’re all familiar with the exhaust port that a teen with not-the-greatest bangs exploited, but there’s one particular consequence to firing a planet-destroying laser that I think is often overlooked. Though it has nothing to do with exhaust ports, cores, or rebels, I think it could be just as disastrous for the empire.

In my latest episode of Because Science, I’m powering up physics to provide a successful demonstration of what would actually happen if you fired a superlaser powerful enough to pulverize planets. Light, even though it doesn’t have mass, does have momentum. In everyday life, that momentum is negligible—we don’t feel recoil when we use a laser pointer, for example. But when the energies get large enough to separate whole celestial bodies, the force that simply firing a beam of light would put on you would have dire consequences…

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