The New Star Wars Movie

Darth Vader Helmet

Darth Vader Helmet

The second trailer for the new Star Wars movie, “The Force Awakens,” came out today. Here is a link to it and in case you have been living under a rock and missed the first trailer, the one that nearly crashed the Internet last Black Friday, here is a link to that one too. One of the young guys at worked announced its release today and a few of us gathered around a PC to watch it. At just under two-minutes it is short, but it is still packed with lots of neat stuff. It starts out with the Lucas film logo, which is all that remains of George in this now Disney franchise. OK, enough snarking on George, it starts out on a desert planet, possibly Tatooine or possibly just Tunisia. The landscape is littered with crashed space junk, an X-Wing fighter in the foreground and a crumbling Star Destroyer in the background. Next, we see Darth Vader’s scorched helmet, shown here as a GIF. A cloaked figure touches R2D2. He has a robotic hand. This is Luke Skywalker, we learn through his voice over:

The Force is strong in my family…
My father has it…
I have it…
My sister has it…
You have that power too.

It’s unclear who he’s talking to though. Could it be a son or daughter? We’ll have to wait to see. The clip continues with scenes of battle, scenes full of storm troopers and one big reveal that I won’t spoil here. Watch the clip and find out. As with most multiple trailer releases there is some overlap between the different trailers, but there is always new material to be gleamed from each.

I’ve been a fan of Star Wars almost since its inception. Anne and I saw the original movie within a week of its May, 1977 release. I still remember the anticipatory buzz about that film that circulated among the crowd waiting in line. The film doesn’t look as well now as it did then, but it revolutionized a movie genre and in truth, movies in general. My favorite picture in the series has always been “The Empire Strikes Back”. The principle characters are the most fleshed out, the story is the most interesting and the plot twists the most gut retching, than in any of the other episodes. I was working nights here in Saint Louis when that film was released. I and a bunch of my co-workers gathered for the very first Friday morning matinée to see the show. Some of them even smuggled in their own popcorn. Ever since then Lucas seemed increasing more interested in merchandising than in movie making. I hope that this Disney reboot reverses that trend. They spent enough for the chance.

Science Fact and Fiction

Eye of Sauron - Fomalhaut's Debris Ring - NASA Photo

Eye of Sauron – Fomalhaut’s Debris Ring – NASA Photo

Fomalhaut is a bright star that is located 25 light years away in the constellation Pisces Australis, or the Southern Fish. The above picture is a recent image captured with the Hubble [not Hobbit] Space Telescope. It makes this system look uncannily like the Great Eye of Sauron from the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. The ring is composed of dust particles in orbit around the star.

The Obama Administration operates a website, called “We the People”. This website solicits petitions from ordinary citizens, with the promise that the Administration will give a formal response to any petition that garners over 10,000 signatures. One such petition asked the government to “secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016.” The following is the humorous response:

This Isn’t the Petition Response You’re Looking For
By Paul Shawcross

The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:

  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

These two independent stories are still both linked with their twin conjunction of science and fiction and the humor that this meeting engenders. Both stories prove the old adage that truth is often stranger than fiction and funnier too. This post may be a bit nerdy, probably too much so for some, to them I can but say, “May the Schwartz be with you”, some day. For those other diehard fans, not willing to submit to the Administration’s edict, I offer this photo link.

Scientists dream about doing great things.
Engineers do them.
– James A. Michener