The Science of Star Wars

Date(s) - 04/03/19
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Harold Washington Library Center

Hosted by

The Science of Star Wars


April 3, 2019 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

Star Wars – the fight of the light side of the force against the dark side – is a story that has fascinated us for the last 40 years. A crucial part of this story is the unbelievable scientific and technological advances – traveling through hyperspace, lightsabers, holograms, the discovery of habitable planets – that fill the universe. But are these advances really beyond our reach, or have we already surpassed some of them? Are they even scientifically possible? If you want to hear the answers to these questions, join us for a lecture on the science behind Star Wars, and the physical laws that we have to “bend” to make them work.

This talk discusses the physical laws and concepts underlying the scientific advances portrayed in the Star Wars movies. It thus provides a connection between the popular ideas and visions of Star Wars and actual cutting edge science. It reviews the physics of

  • “The Force” in the context of the standard model of high energy physics
  • “Light Sabers” in the context of electromagnetism, light waves and quantum mechanics
  • “Faster than Light Travel” in the context of Einstein’s special theory of relativity
  • “Exoplanets and Intelligent Life” in the context of discovering exoplanets
  • “Death Star” in the context of gravitational energy
  • “Robots and Artificial Intelligence” in the context of creating neural networks and computing power




Dirk K. Morr, PhD

Dirk K. Morr is a professor of physics at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His research in the area of theoretical condensed matter physics focuses on the evolution of complexity from the nano- to the macroscale. Dr. Morr is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the German Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the German Academic Exchange Service, and held the Leibniz chair at the University of Leipzig (Germany) in 2011/12. From 2003 to 2010, Dr. Morr was a member of the task force that developed the new Science Storms exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.  His public engagements include popular science talks, in which he does not only discuss the “mysteries of the quantum world”, but also examines the relation between art and physics.