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Hologram to laser sword: How much "Star Wars" is already a reality?


Science fiction films like "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" have inspired real inventions. In reality, however, the droids R2D2 and C-3PO would have long since been scrapped.

Spaceships are currently flying in hyperspace in the cinema, lightsabers are being crossed and laser weapons are being fired. But how much scientific reality is in the "Star Wars" films like the current work "The Rise of Skywalker"? Could you inspire science and technology, do you already have it?

Basically, according to Andreas Böhn from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), it is not surprising that science fiction stories anticipate technical developments.

Melt steel

Jules Verne's heroes in the novel "From Earth to the Moon" started from a location in Florida not far from what is now Cape Canaveral, the American spaceport. And Herbert George Wells wrote about tanks as early as 1906, ten years before they were used for the first time in the First World War.

An invention from the "Star Wars" films that has already become reality is laser cannons . The U.S. Navy tested them on a ship five years ago, and Rheinmetall recently introduced the latest generation. With the new laser cannons, for example, steel girders can be melted a kilometer away and smaller drones can be taken from the sky.

In the video: US Air Force tests laser cannon



Recently, another technology from a "far, far away galaxy" became a reality: a moving hologram with sounds . It is based on a polystyrene bead onto which a three-dimensional and multicolored image is projected with red, green and blue light. The bead is moved back and forth at lightning speed by the sound pressure from ultrasound speakers. However, these light phenomena are still quite small.

The robots called "droids" also seem to be close to being realized. But the technology is still far from having robots act as independently as R2D2 or C-3PO in "Star Wars".

If one day there were self-thinking robots, their lifespan would probably be much shorter than that of their famous role models. In the "Star Wars" film series, the droids have been in use for 67 years without appearing outdated. Today's technical development is much faster in comparison - R2D2 and C-3PO would have been scrapped long ago or would be in the museum.

Sometimes the weapons from "Star Wars" are used in a completely different context. For example, researchers at the University of Liverpool use the principle of proton torpedoes , which Luke Skywalker uses to blow up the first Death Star, to fight tumors. During therapy, tumor cells are targeted with a beam of protons to destroy them.

Tesla also recently filed a patent for laser wipers (read more here.)

New patentWhat is behind Tesla's laser wipers?

On the other hand, there will never be lightsabers. At least nobody can imagine a way to end a laser beam as abruptly as it is with the blade of the lightsaber.

According to Hubert Zitt from Kaiserslautern University of Applied Sciences, the most likely option would be a beam of plasma - a gas that partially consists of high-energy electrons. However, a blade made of this material would be 200 million degrees hot. It would be correspondingly difficult to handle.

"Star Trek" also influenced science. For example, the theoretical feasibility of a warp drive was investigated, which can be achieved by deliberately curving the space-time speed of light. Experimental physicist Metin Tolan from the Technical University of Dortmund wrote a book about Star Trek physics. According to him, the quantum teleportation that was successfully shown a few years ago was inspired by "beaming" in Star Trek.

Did Steve watch Jobs at Captain Picard?

Technical developments have been stimulated even more than theoretical science. Already in the first season of the television series from the 1960s there is a wheelchair that can be controlled with thoughts - there is now such a device.

"While Captain Kirk still had to push buttons, Captain Picard only had to wipe," explains Tolan another technical advance that can be seen in "Star Trek - The Next Generation" from 1987. In the device that Picard swipes around, Tolan sees a tablet computer as it was first introduced in 2010 with the Apple iPad. In general, Tolan suspects, the communicators on mobile phones were the inspiration.

Source: spiegel

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