Star Wars technically falls under the category of science fiction, but let’s be honest: Most of that field usually has its roots in feasible ideas, but there aren’t many elements of George Lucas’ saga that abide by the physics and limitations of our own world.
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As a result, it may seem silly to put aspects of the franchise under the microscope to determine their practicality, but that’s part of the fun of being a devoted fan. And few fans are as devoted as the MythBusters duo of Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, who produced a Star Wars-themed episode for the show’s season finale last night.
The Discovery Channel show, which features the pair testing scientific myths with their DIY experiments, tackled two mysteries from the films: How fast does a blaster bolt travel, and did Obi-Wan Kenobi really have an advantage when he told Anakin Skywalker he had the “higher ground” in Revenge of the Sith?
As you can see in the above video, Adam determines the speed of a blaster bolt, and the pair eventually go on to see if it’s possible to anticipate and deflect the weapon (without using the Force, one would assume). It feels like they missed an opportunity to examine why stormtroopers are so inaccurate with their blasters, but then again, considering the gear the Empire’s troops have to wear, that’s always been one of the more realistic traits of the series.
The second question is even more interesting to me. I always wondered what Obi-Wan meant when he said that. For one thing, he knows Anakin has Force abilities and can leap higher than any normal human. And for another, Obi-Wan overcame the same disadvantage when he fought and killed Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace!
It’s all in good fun, though. You can tell both of these guys are huge Star Wars fans and that they’re doing this episode because they love the movies, not because they want to mock them. Savage actually worked on the production of Episode I and II, and the show even consulted with Lucasfilm on what liberties they could take with their depiction of Star Wars costumes and props.
This also isn’t the first Star Wars-themed episode the show’s produced. In January 2014, an episode looked at three other scenes in Star Wars to see if they held up to scrutiny. This consisted of whether the Ewoks could smash an AT-ST with a log; whether Luke could have swung across the Death Star chasm with Leia; and whether Luke could have survived a night in a Tauntaun.
If the show does another Star Wars episode, I hope it examines a few more of the prequels’ misfires, like midi-chlorians, clone technology and whether anyone could actually tolerate Jar Jar Binks for more than a few minutes.
But above all, there’s one question I want answered more than any other: Now that we know how fast a blaster can shoot, did Han shoot first?