The Star Wars movie franchise is filled to the brim with various technologies and inventions yet to be seen in this lifetime: lightspeed travel, hover vehicles, and completely self-sufficient, sentient AI. But how accurate is all of this, really? How much of the complex science deeply embedded within their diverse plots stay true to the finite laws of astrophysics in place today? Are these things even possible?
The short answer: maybe. As technology advances further and further, critical components of the Star Wars universe such as lightspeed travel are becoming more and more realizable. Such speed is guaranteed to be crucial in the exploration of neighboring galaxies in hopes of finding an Earth-like clone to colonize in the future. Geraint Lewis from the University of Sydney predicts that, according to Einstein’s theory of relativity, traveling at warp speed is theoretically possible. According to Lewis, the key to unlocking travel this fast depends on the discovery of a material with a negative density energy, not a material “that we actually have in our hands, but there are signs that there are aspects of the Universe that actually have this kind of property.” (1)
As far as hover vehicles are concerned, it should be well-remembered what a disappointment those “hoverboards” were a few years back. Thankfully, a company named Omni Hoverboards aimed to rectify that situation by creating real hoverboards that actually fly. A consumer prototype is well in the works and should be available soon. (2)
Finally, the terrifying idea of sentient AI. The design of an AI’s intelligence is written in its code, and a big hurdle to creating an AI conscious of its existence is that they are only built to achieve the purpose of their creation. Creating an AI capable of independent thought other than what it is programmed to both do and “think” is challenging, but not impossible. AI can now beat humans in chess and recognize faces. At this rate, the joke that “soon we’ll be discussing robot’s rights” won’t be so funny anymore. Let’s just hope we’ll achieve AI akin to R2-D2 and C-3PO, not Megatron. (3)