Assembled with a team of brainiacs that included NASA engineers and a psychologist amongst others, the Star Wars: The Science Awakens panel at San Diego Comic-Con aimed to take a more analytical approach to bringing the worlds from the big screen to life in the real world.

 If you watch the Big Bang Theory, you might have found yourself fascinated by the tangential hypothetical debates that the characters find themselves in when discussing matters beyond the storyline–you know: Could Lightsabers ever be a reality? How would Starkiller Base work in the real world? Which droid would NASA select for a real mission?–that is EXACTLY what it was like to be in this panel.

…And it was awesome!

The conversations were created with panelists Fon Davis (production designer, Star Wars Movies), Kim Steadman (NASA engineer, Mars Science Lab), Kieran Dickson (editor, Outerplaces), Travis Langley (editor, Star Wars Psychology), Steve Huff (fight choreographer), Eliot Sirota (The @OneEyedJedi), and moderator Jenna Busch (Legion of Leia).

 The impressive collection of brain power here was quite the entertaining kick-off to the second day of the Con. In an hour-long format there’s not a lot of time to dive deep into one particular vein of conversation and so there were a lot of surface level discussions about various elements that are truly fodder for much debate.

The most passionately opinionated panelist was Dr. Travis Langley and he offered several different great nuggets for thought, several of which are areas in which he’s delved into considerably in his books.

Perhaps most interesting was his comparison of the psychology of Anakin’s turn to the Dark Side. For such a caring young kid from Episode 1 to turn into quite literally the opposite by Episode 3 would require some serious brain changes. He likened the transition to someone with a drug addiction. Anakin not only fed off the Dark Side but getting that “high” (my words, not his) was most important to him over all other things, including the health and safety of himself or others.

 Other panelists argued that the entire Galaxy needs to move on and try to find others who could channel the Force that didn’t come from such a messed up family as the Skywalkers.

One pet-peeve Steve Huff picked a bone with was the design of Kylo Ren’s lightsaber which he argues adamantly would have left anyone swinging it about so wildly without body limbs after just a few seconds. When you consider that the beams on a lightsaber are essentially 360 degree cutting edges it would make it quite the difficult weapon to wield without causing bodily harm to the user.

There were other interesting topics up for debate including the idea of Droids as slaves to which Dr. Langely urged strongly that they were. As sentient beings, they most certainly are treated as slaves. Kim Steadman talked about it being so easy to form emotional bonds with “robots” with her work at NASA noting that each one has a “personality” and that it’s easy to form these types of bonds with these machines. When they lost “Spirit” they held a wake for their lost comrade.

There’s was also brief conversation about the inherent “racism” or “species-ism” as with the way that Chewbacca is treated within the franchise. No medal after A New Hope, no hug from Leia after Han’s death, etc.

Other things you probably never thought about…

  • Blasters are very likely not lasers but instead shooting some sort of projectile since they are not continuous beams of light.
  • Blowing up a planet actually would cause quite a few problems for the planetary orbits of other planets in that solar system.

It was clearly quite the nerdographical debate but did not require a doctorate to participate. It was truly a fascinating experience and exactly the kind of panel you’d expect to see at San Diego Comic-Con. “Star Wars: The Science Awakens” was a true highlight for the 2016 event!

Geek on!