The symphonic music, the interplanetary vistas, and the alien creatures are just some of the many aspects of the Star Wars films that enthrall its audiences. But the movies’ gadgets have an allure all their own. Simply put, the George Lucas serial wouldn’t be nearly as persuasive without its somewhat retro, somewhat futuristic technology. The following are particular examples.
Science fiction films have frequently showcased robots in daily life. But few cinematic robots are as entertaining as those Lucas and his team created. The humanoid C-3PO, as fussy and as annoying as he can be, speaks more than six million languages. R2-D2, meanwhile, is a reliable spaceship copilot despite the fact that he is shaped like a garbage can. And throughout the saga, droids are employed as soldiers, surgeons, and manufacturers.
In fact, Lucas’s mechanical characters have even inspired real world robotics engineers. To take just one example, the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a branch of the Department of Defense, is currently working on an ambulatory translator robot.
The premise of the light saber could not be simpler. It’s a sword with a laser instead of a blade. But whenever you watch Jedi Knights engaging in hand-to-hand light saber combat, it can be difficult to take your eyes off of those mesmerizing weapons. Their colorful glows and distinctive whirring sounds are unforgettable. And their deadly powers make them even more fascinating. How many children have staged backyard, plastic light saber duels over the decades?
Luke’s Land Speeder
At the beginning of Star Wars: A New Hope (1977), the first movie in the series, audiences are introduced to Luke Skywalker, the original trilogy’s central hero, as a listless young man working on his uncle’s farm and piloting his battered land speeder around his sparsely populated planet. That land speeder represents the junk autos that serve as first cars for many American teenagers. Yet this worn-out vehicle still possesses much charm and appeal. It zips along faithfully, hovering above the ground the entire time.
Unfortunately, this land speeder receives little screen time. As many kids do, Luke sells his vehicle just before leaving home for the first time to embark upon a new life.
Holograms for Work and Play
In Star Wars pictures droids and other machines project small, three-dimensional holographic videos. Thus, chess-like games spring to life, and game boards are populated with moving figures. In addition, people can record themselves as holograms to deliver messages to others as Princess Leia so memorably does when she implores the reclusive Obi-Wan Kenobi to assist her rebel forces.
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are now working on similar holographic communications. When people use their laptops to watch these video clips, they are able to view moving images from all angles and perspectives.
At the close of The Empire Strikes Back, Luke’s estranged father, Darth Vader, slices off his son’s hand in battle. Fortunately, Luke is able to undergo surgery in which droids attach an artificial hand, one that looks and operates exactly like a real hand. Luke is even able to feel pain when this ersatz extremity is pricked.
Aaron Malthus writes on geek topics such as futuristic gadgets, AI, computer software, magic the gathering, board games, Star Trek conventions and other topics as well.
Image credit goes to espressoDOM.