Science and Star Wars don’t usually mix well. You can’t expect a universe that includes faster-than-light travel, telepathic superhumans and giant space slugs to hold up to the laws of physics, or, well, any field in particular.
Mythbusters has already skewered the show’s plausibility multiple times, and although some of the artists who dabble in the galaxy actually do try to apply a real-world discipline to their work, if you want to enjoy the series in the best possible way, you should check your disbelief at the cantina door.
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But that seems to be an impossible task for nerds and Star Wars fans alike. The latest batch of pop culture scientists from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, have actually dedicated an entire paper to a relatively unexplored portion of the canon universe: the relationship between Luke and Leia.
No, they’re not studying THAT scene. Let’s move on, shall we?
The researchers actually posited an interesting question that they then solved in a paper published in the Journal of Physics Special Topics: Are Luke and Leia really the same age if they’re jetting around opposite ends of the universe?
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Turns out they would be according to Einsteinian physics. You see, if you know anything about basic physics, or have seen the movie Interstellar, you’d know that the massive gravity of spatial bodies and the speed of the ship you’re traveling in can slow down or speed up time, which means you age at a different rate than you would on Earth.
This is where I hand the classroom over to the guest lecturers from the U.K., who took the time to figure out this data from The Empire Strikes Back and probably ruined the movie for themselves forever.
"To examine relativistic time dilation we consider the separate journeys that both twins make to Cloud City. Leia travels from the neighbouring system of Anoat, while Luke travels from the much more distant planet Dagobah. Luke’s journey was ~7 days travel in his own reference frame, which was estimated to be 25 times longer than Leia’s, making her journey 0.28 days (6.72 hours) in her own reference frame. Additionally, as Leia travels in the Millennium Falcon, a much larger ship with more powerful engines than Luke’s X-Wing Starfighter, it was assumed that it reaches a higher velocity of 0.99999c compared to the 0.99995c achieved by the X-Wing."
Simple, right? Their final hypothesis is that Luke is actually younger than Leia by 638.2 days, or about one-and-three-quarters of a year. No wonder he seemed a bit short for a stormtrooper.
Rather than rest on their laurels for bringing this news to the attention of the Star Wars community, the students went even further and found out how Luke could possibly catch up to his sister’s age again, which Darth Vader would never have allowed.
They determined all he’d have to do is chill in the orbit of Bespin, the gas giant where Cloud City is located, for a measly 9.77 million years, or about the same length of time it will take for Disney to release the original theatrical editions on Blu-ray.