Hyper Light, Giant Bug Farts, and Respecting the Audience

I have seen Star Wars VII twice, once with my good twin (I am the evil one). He asked me if there was anything that I picked up the second time. Yes, two things.

1: The light of the blaster shot that the newer, younger Darth stopped mid-air early in the flick. It was a cool effect.

2: First time I saw the bigger, new and improved Death Star’s laser, I wondered about those inconvenient laws of physics limiting the speed of light, and thus, making it a very long time before that laser hits anything in other star systems. Second time, I heard the line about hyper-light. See? Just one little bit of doubletalk, and the light beam goes faster than light.

Which made me remember that old movie, Starship Troopers (much as I’d prefer not to). In that flick, giant bugs in another star system threw an asteroid at Earth. In other words, they threw a big rock. At Earth. From another star system. The rock had no warp drive, no hyper-drive, no lightspeed drive, no nothing except rock.

I will pause here to let you think about that. (ONE SECOND PASSES!) Okay, you should have thought of this: A ROCK WILL TAKE A VERY LONG TIME TO TRAVEL SEVERAL LIGHT-YEARS!

Let’s say the bugs are at the closest star system, which is four light years away. One light year equals 5,878,499,810,000 miles. That’s a lot of miles. Assuming the bugs can get the rock to travel at near light speed, that will be a bit over four years. The energy to get a rock going that fast will be tremendous, as in turning lots of gas-giant planets entirely to energy (since I am not a physicist, I suspect that is a very conservative estimate). About four years later, the big nearly-light-speed rock will destroy the Earth, not just dig a crater. Remember this thing called kinetic energy? That rock would have LOTS of it. If the rock goes any slower, we Earth people will have thousands, or maybe millions of years before we bother to take our hyper-light spaceships to the rock and give it a little tap to knock it off course.

These bugs blasted the energy to move that rock from the ends of their abdomens. Yeah, out their butts. Not only is that incredible aim (hitting a moving target that far away when you are facing away from it), but that is an incredibly powerful fart. Do those bugs eat planet-size anti-matter burritos?

This is one of the many reasons why Star Wars VII works and Starship Troopers does not. Star Wars VII understood that the audience knows what a light-year is, and took a moment to write the screenplay around that. Starship Troopers, by not bothering to do that, insulted the audience’s intelligence.

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One thought on “Hyper Light, Giant Bug Farts, and Respecting the Audience

  1. Pingback: The double-talk generator canna take no more! | Dave M. Strom: author of Holly Hansson, superheroine & writer

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