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The Economic Toll Of Blowing Up The Death Star

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In a famous scene from Kevin Smith's first film Clerks, protagonists Dante and Randal decide to pass time by addressing, according to them, one of the Star Wars franchise's most ethically faulty conundrums: the destruction of the second Death Star. Randal points out:

"I'll bet there were independent contractors working on that thing: plumbers, aluminum siders, roofers...and some juicy government contract comes your way; you got the wife and kids and the two-story in suburbia...All of a sudden these left-wing militants blast you with lasers and wipe out everyone within a three-mile radius. You didn't ask for that. You have no personal politics. You're just trying to scrape out a living."

Like Randal (and indirectly, Kevin Smith), a professor at Washington University in St. Louis is also perturbed at the implications of blowing up the Death Star — and in a paper published Dec. 1 on Arvix, an open source server, he's proposed that destroying both iterations of the weaponized Imperial station would have had devastating ramifications on an intergalactic scale.

To come to his conclusion in "It's a Trap: Emperor Palpatine's Poison Pill," engineering professor Zachary Feinstein estimated the amount of steel used in the construction of the Death Star, comparing its construction and the amount of materials used to a typical, Earthling-produced aircraft carrier to come up with the total cost of making the moon-sized fortress.

Weinstein deduced that the resources, time, and money that building the Death Star would necessitate was comparable to that of the Manhattan Project, and when translated to the Imperial economic system from 2012 USD, would require around $193 quintillion to construct the first Death Star with a galactic economic GNP of $4.6 sextillion a year.

Using the prequels and Wookiepedia to support his claim, Weinstein inferred that the decimation of both Death Stars would eradicate the Empire's market, and to prevent an economic tailspin, the Rebel Alliance would have to come up with a huge bailout in cold, hard cash:

"In this case study we found that the Rebel Alliance would need to prepare a bailout of at least 15%, and likely at least 20%, of GGP in order to mitigate the systemic risks and the sudden and catastrophic economic collapse. Without such funds at the ready, it likely the Galactic economy would enter an economic depression of astronomical proportions."

In the end, it looks like Randal is right: whether you're a Jedi or a Sith Lord, you're just trying to scrape out a living.

Just for fun, you can watch the Death Star explode again and again in the video below.

 

Via: Popular Science

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