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The Physics of Star Wars: The Science Behind a Galaxy Far, Far Away Paperback – 16 Nov 2017
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"When you think of the science behind Star Wars, what do you think of? In this new book you can delve into the science of the galaxy far, far away and maybe get some answers." (Geek Girl Authority)
"Patrick Johnson … breaks down the Star Wars franchise into its constituent parts, and offers scientific explanations, grounded in reality, for just about every detail … .A compulsive pleasure to read." (VICE)
"Gets a fun conversation about physics brewing in the zeitgeist, but also might neatly explain everything that’s weird about the Star Wars galaxy. The wonderful thing about Johnson’s way of thinking is that nearly every quibble we might have about the science mistakes or fallacies inherent to Star Wars could have a neat explanation." (Inverse.com)
"A stellar read …. a deep dive into the real science behind the world of Star Wars. You can really tell how big a fan the author is, which makes for an extra fun read. By comparing the galaxy to our own, the author makes it very accessible and even more interesting. If you’re interested in this book and don’t have a science background, you’ll still enjoy it … .A fun, educational read." (Hypable)
"As part of his mission to communicate science to nonscientists, physicist Patrick Johnson uses the fictional world of Star Wars to explore real-life science. The book is divided into categorized topics … followed by an analysis of the physics involved in the Star Wars universe compared with current science and technology here on Earth. Aimed at a general audience, The Physics of Star Wars could stimulate some thought-provoking discussions." (Physics Today)
About the Author
Patrick Johnson is an assistant teaching professor at Georgetown University. He previously taught at Marquette University and William Jewell College after receiving his PhD in physics from Washington University in St. Louis. Patrick gained his passion for Star Wars from his father, Eric, and has continued that throughout his life, watching the entire series in a marathon before the premieres of both Episode I and Episode VII. When not teaching physics or watching Star Wars, Patrick spends his time doing improv comedy with a local DC group. He is the author of The Physics of Star Wars.
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The book is written with a clear love of both Star Wars and physics. There are no pictures in the book and it's more text book in style than coffee table book. That said, it's a highly engaging and entertaining read so, although you'll certainly learn a lot, you'll be having so much fun that you won't notice.
The one star review based on one word from an excerpt can be safely ignored and I urge the reviewer to actually read the book.
The collision of Fragment G with the surface released in one instant the energy of about six hundred times the earth’s nuclear arsenal. It left a crater on the surface of Jupiter about 7,456 miles across that is still visible to this day.
Really? A visible crater on the surface of Jupiter. Fascinating.
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This part quote from the "About the Author" section of the book may say it all:
"...As Patrick went through college at the University of Dayton, he began TAing for physics classes, but his favorite was a class for non-scientists. Through that class, Patrick found his love for science communication. It was also during this time that he began to explore different ways to connect physics to people’s lives..."
This is not a fanboy explanation, stretching real physics beyond an uncomfortable level trying to make something in science fiction seem possible. The author starts with what the physics in Star Wars must be to make it work there, then uses that to introduce and then teach real physics, and very well, indeed.
Disclaimer: My wife taught Patrick in Montessori school and works part-time with Patrick's father. I have had little interaction with Patrick other than hearing proud stories from his Mom and Dad.
This book reads just like Dr. Johnson is in real life: down to earth, very relatable, extremely funny, and able to make physics interesting for any student (or reader). This is probably sort of obnoxious to say, but in my experience the typical physics enthusiast/professor isn't very capable of making physics at all engaging or enjoyable. I mean, really, when you think "physics professor," you probably think of some extremely boring class presided over by an even more boring professor. But Dr. Johnson is the opposite! Which is why this book is so fantastic.
In this book, he takes his talent for explaining physics so well (and with so much humor!), combines it with his literally limitless storage of Star Wars knowledge, and uses each to springboard off the other, weaving together a book that leaves you knowing far more about both your own world and the worlds created in the Star Wars movies. I am nowhere near the Star Wars enthusiast that he is, however, I have found myself wondering if some of the cool things I've seen in Star Wars movies could really be a reality someday (or somewhere in another universe), and he happily addresses these questions in his book.
For example, who hasn't wondered if we could ever have lightsabers or blasters (or what they really are made of)? And what's up with people hurting each other with lightning that comes out of their fingers? And could the Death Star REALLY destroy another planet? And, if so, how could it do that? And I had never really understood what Luke's family was doing - moisture farming? What the heck? And I had never really thought much about how cool it was that Luke's home planet had two suns (turns out, we here on earth don't WANT two suns - Dr. Johnson explains why!). And how in the world does the Millenium Falcon barrel through the universe at light speed without hitting things like planets and such that should otherwise be in its way?
And on and on. He takes our reality and uses it to talk about their reality in Star Wars, or he takes their reality and helps us understand ours better. These themes are woven throughout the book, and the result is masterful and so very interesting. If you like science or Star Wars (especially if you like Star Wars!), this is YOUR BOOK.