Why Albert Einstein would love 'Star Wars'
As the epic saga's latest installment opens, we think the legendary physicist would be the first in line to see it.
It seems everywhere you go these days, people are talking about the new Star Wars movie. The film sold more tickets before it was even released than most movies make in their lifetime.
And the fun is just getting started. Soon, in 2017, the original "Star Wars" will be turning 40. That same year will see the release of the next installment, known simply as "Episode VIII," coming to life courtesy of prolific Israeli producer Ram Bergman and well-known American producer Kathleen Kennedy.
The popular space franchise – depicting a good vs. evil storyline in a galaxy far, far away – is timeless. Which got us thinking. Had "Star Wars" come out a few decades earlier, it might have had a true fan and compatriot in legendary physicist Albert Einstein.
For starters, did you know that the makeup supervisor for the original "Star Wars" modeled Yoda’s eyes after Einstein’s, giving the Jedi master a wise look?
"Einstein's face is the most recognizable face worldwide," Hanoch Gutfreund, a leading theoretical physicist, told From The Grapevine. Gutfreund, the director of the Albert Einstein Archives at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, serves as caretaker to 80,000 documents which span the spectrum of both Einstein's personal and professional life.
For example, Einstein's work helped build the basis for our modern-day GPS system, now being voiced by the likes of C3PO. The technology would certainly come in handy as our intrepid heroes navigate the corridors of the Death Star in "Star Wars: A New Hope" or when battling the empire on the forest moon of Endor in "Return of the Jedi." It seems the "Star Wars" characters are always trying to get from Point A to Point B, and Einstein's GPS technology would make traveling on such journeys easier than learning how to properly embody the force.
Einstein's theory of relativity touched on the topics of time travel and gravitational pull, both of which can be seen in the "Star Wars" universe. The Millennium Falcon used hyperspace to quickly traverse a galactic empire spanning more than 120,000 light years. According to a scientific paper on the subject, those ships using hyperspace would experience time much differently than those without it.
And in a case of fact mirroring fiction, a rocket was recently launched to actually test Einstein's theory of relativity in space.
Both Einstein and "Star Wars" helped make science more accessible to all of us. Like the movies, Einstein has only seen his place in the pop culture zeitgeist grow. "The interest in Einstein does not fade into history," says Professor Gutfreund from Jerusalem. "If anything, if one can say anything about this, the interest in Einstein increases with time. It's greater now."
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