Originally Posted July 2006

So I’m not sure how I got to thinking about this, but I think it had something to do with the idea someone mentioned about rewriting episodes 1-3 while discarding everything created for the universe except in episodes 4-6. Which got me thinking about running a game where the only canon is what appears in 4-6. Which got me thinking about recreating the technology explanations solely to fit what appears on screen in the most efficient way possible.

The problem with Star Wars tech is the problem with pretty much all sci-fi that creates a story and then invents technology to fit: you often get good stories, but the science tends to suffer more than if you come up with a few advanced tech assumptions/conceits first and then build logically from there.

Even though Firefly/Serenity was probably Joss simply looking for tech that was thematically appropriate to a space western, I quite like the post-hoc explanation in the RPG that most of the tech that’s beyond what we can currently produce is based on the partial Grand Unification of Electromagnetism and Gravity.

I figured some similar simple assumption/conceit could be used to explain the tech that appears in Star Wars 4-6 much more succinctly than the modulating phase crystals and turbo lasers and all of the stuff that shows up in the EU explanations.

So science savvy people, please let me know just how far fetched this conceit is, and whether the science that follows seems plausible, assuming that the conceit is true, within a space opera setting.

Conceit:

In the galaxy far, far away, a generally inexplicable but measurable Force allows electromagnetism and magnetic particles to bind in ways not allowable by general laws of physics. Technological apparati can be created to manipulate energy along the wavelengths that trigger this force effect. Some individuals seem to have a biological chemistry or pattern of brain wavelengths that allows them to naturally produce the force effect to a certain degree, and they have established a religion that claims that the Force is evidence of the supernatural.

Uses of the force effect:

The primary use of this effect is to create stable, manipulable fields of magnetism and electrons. These force fields can be used to channel, contain, diffuse, and reflect energy in practical ways. With enough charged particles fed into the fields, they can even serve to screen against standard particles by providing enough charge to resemble the electomagnetic field that keeps the atoms of solid material from penetrating one another.

Blasters: Blasters produce a short-lived cylinder or column of force field that is injected with charged plasma and fired at a target. Generally, the speed of the shot allows the field to bind the plasma until it reaches a target; blasts that go astray tend to break down rather quickly as the plasma cools and disperses into gas – this rate is based on the power of the weapon, and determines its effective range. The blaster effect has been well documented and its technology mass produced such that blasters are usually safe in any trained hands.

Lightsabers: The elegant weapon of an earlier age, lightsabers were developed simultaneously with blasters and are both simpler and more complicated. Rather than binding a bolt of plasma as blasters do, the saber produces a thin column of force of only a meter or so in length, and injects it with plasma. The field is designed to contain and repel other fields and plasma, and yet allow physical matter to pass and come in contact with the plasma contained within. Because the field and plasma remain attached to the generator, energy loss is much lower than a blaster since the charge of the field and the heat and amount of plasma can be simply maintained rather than being created anew with each blast. Since the plasma is being constantly refreshed, a lightsaber blade cuts and burns with at least the strength of a blaster bolt immediately after launch.

Unfortunately, lightsabers are much less practical for common use than the blaster. The generation of so much energy that remains in proximity to the generator for so long tends to increase the failure rate of the device; users must be trained to maintain the weapon, and it helps to have an intuitive feel for when the device requires maintenance. Further, few sentients are equipped to deal with wielding what is essentially a nearly massless wand of plasma – lightsaber wielders are often more of a danger to themselves or their allies than to enemies since it is easy to misjudge the blade’s placement. Because of this, the blades have never been commonly used by any but the Jedi.

Tractor Beams: Only practical on very large ships because of the size of the electromagnet required, a tractor beam projects a column of force at a magnetic object and uses it to precisely focus and extend a magnetic attraction between the two objects.

Hyperspeed: Understood by only the most elite physicists in the galaxy, and yet mass-produced for its utility, hyperspeed uses the scientific oddness of the force effect to circumvent the limits on approaching the speed of light. The ship creates a very tight field of force that hedges out all other energy wavelengths and, seemingly, universal constants. From the universe’s perspective, the encased ship is nothing but energy, so is able to accelerate to an appreciable fraction of the speed of light very quickly, for limited energy compared to its mass, and with greatly reduced relativistic effects on the crew. However, the field works to its utmost to screen against the regular background forces of the universe – skirting too close to a gravity well can quickly tax its resources and hitting an object of significant mass can be deadly to all involved.

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