The Let’s-Build-A-Death-Star Petition Still 23,377 Signatures Short Of Serious White House Consideration
U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT: The petition, started on November 14 and flagged this morning on Politico, has gotten 623 signatures as of this writing, 24,377 short of the 25,000 threshold required for an official White House response. “By focusing our defense resources into a space-superiority platform and weapon system such as a Death Star, the government can spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense,” the succinct petition states. There is actually a surprisingly rich Internet debate about what building a Death Star would cost. Some students at Lehigh University (who founded the really interesting-in-a-completely-irrelevant-way blog Centives) ran the numbers in February and figured that the cost around 13,000 times the world’s GDP, which does seem like rather a lot. (Money quote: “But then again, you can just take out a loan from the entire planet and then default on them in the most awesome way possible.”) But Mother Jones’s Kevin Drum pushed back, arguing that even though they underestimated the cost (he puts it at 1.3 million times the world’s GDP), it is still a surprisingly cost effective weapons system. MORE
MOTHER JONES: Star Wars may have taken place “a long time ago,” but the technology of the Star Wars universe is well in our future. How far into our future? Well, Star Trek is about 300 years in our future, and the technology of Star Wars is obviously well beyond that. Let’s call it 500 years. What will the world’s GDP be in the year 2500? Answer: Assuming a modest 2 percent real growth rate, it will be about 20,000 times higher than today. So we can figure that the average world in the Star Wars universe is about 20,000 times richer than present-day Earth, which means the Death Star would cost about 65 times the average world’s GDP. MORE
RELATED: It may sound like a plot straight out of a science fiction novel, but a U.S. mission to blow up the moon with a nuke was very real in the 1950s. At the height of the space race, the U.S. considered detonating an atom bomb on the moon as a display of America’s Cold War muscle. The secret project, innocuously titled ‘A Study of Lunar Research Flights’ and nicknamed ‘Project A119,’ was never carried out. However, its planning included calculations by astronomer Carl Sagan, then a young graduate student, of the behavior of dust and gas generated by the blast. Viewing the nuclear flash from Earth might have intimidated the Soviet Union and boosted U.S. confidence after the launch of Sputnik, physicist Leonard Reiffel told the AP in a 2000 interview. MORE
RELATED: Plenty of folks have done some thinking about how to explode the moon. Here’s a piece from Gizmodo figuring that you’d need 9,000 bombs of the 15,000 kiloton “Castle Bravo” class to obliterate the entire surface of the moon. But it’s a big step from messing up the surface of the moon to actually blowing it to smithereens like the Death Star did to Alderaan. There’s some good thinking here on Yahoo Answers on what other forces you’d have to overcome — namely the effects of gravity.
In order to completely destroy the Moon, you can’t just fragment it; each one of those fragments has to be given enough velocity that it “escapes” the mutual gravitational attraction of the other fragments. That’s called “escape velocity” (for obvious reasons, I hope!). If the exploding fragments have anything less than the critical escape velocity, they will simply coalesce into a pile of rubble. True, the NEW Moon will be completely unrecognizable, but “destroyed”? Not technically. MORE