Just so you know, movies aren’t real life, but sometimes we are highly influenced by them. Star Wars is pretty much an official religion adored by millions around the world, especially the really smart ones who “do science” for a living.
George Lucas’s masterpiece about samurai-space-hippies is ingrained into our zeitgeist. Many fans from the ’80s have grown into adults (or at least some of us have grown into adults) and have always wondered what it would be like to have some of the Star Wars technology in today’s modern society.
But good news, a lot of our nerd-gasmic Star Wars dreams are coming true. Last year Boeing announced that they have the patent to build the world’s first force field. The US military took the blaster gun and created a freakin’ laser cannon, and holograms are now being used to bring dead musicians back to life. What about the Force? Well, that’s just Buddhism, so, maybe do some Yoga, and meditate?
Yet there is still so much more we want to see. Forget about world peace, finding cures for diseases, or creating enough food for starving children, what we need are landspeeders! More research and money need to be poured into bringing our first world childhood fantasies into reality.
So how close are we to wielding lightsabers during road rage incidents? Can we create armies of stormtroopers to fight terrorist scum? Below are five examples of Star Wars tech that could improve our daily lives and the odds of it actually coming to fruition.
Odds Star Wars Tech Becomes Reality
Cloning Soldiers: 1/9
In the beginning, stormtroopers were human clones in the image of Jango Fett, this according to prequel scripture. When we talk about cloning, some people go “Yeah let’s do it, let’s start a clone war!” while others counter, “I’m not sure we should play God.”
The science of cloning is a pretty vast and important science, especially on the molecular level. By manipulating cells, scientists can take on large-scale research endeavors like finding cures for diseases and pathogens. In my mind, that seems like valuable research. While a lot of this type of cloning is highly regulated in North America and other parts of the world, China is dominating the biotech industry.
In the northern Chinese port of Tianjin, an ambitious mass-cloning factory will be opening up its doors by the end of the year. The goal will be to produce one million cows every 12 months by 2020.
Now, of course, you can’t win a clone war with just cows, but it’s just a matter of time before China looks to start cloning a super race of humans. Besides cattle, the Boyalife group and the South Korean company Sooam Biotech are also cloning police dogs, and thoroughbred racehorses. #Stormpoopers.
Limb Prosthetics: 1/4
As we move closer to the singularity, the idea of having robotic limbs or transplants shouldn’t shock us. It’s coming. It’s happening. And it’s already here. So many limbs were severed throughout the Star Wars films, but no arm, no foul. Luke just slapped on a robotic hand and he didn’t lose a Jedi beat.
The DEKA Arm, which the inventor lovingly calls “Luke,” comes from the engineers at DEKA Research, and they have created what is considered the most advanced prosthetic arm on the market. It translates signals from muscles in order to allow a person to perform basic tasks, like grasping objects and flexing fingers.
As the tech improves, prosthetics will be produced on mass, and instead of getting a tattoo or a nose ring, we could start seeing and hearing, “Hey dude, look at my robot arm and how far I can throw a frisbee.” Or “Hey bro, look how much I can bench.”
Protocol Droids: 1/3
When we finally do get walking robots, I want a protocol droid. But maybe less C-3PO and more Alicia Vikander-ish. Besides specializing in “human-cyborg relations,” they would also be programmed to translate languages, and be fluent in over six million forms of communication, although that sounds rather excessive, doesn’t it?
In the wonderful world of computer science and natural language processing, real-time translation is considered the Santo Graal of industry goals.
This might not resemble our dream robot that walks, talks, and does robotic slave like activities, but Skype is playing around with a service that translates language in near-real time between callers. So far it’s still in testing and preview mode, but C-3PO will at least be there in spirit.
It’s 2016 and we still don’t have flying cars. Instead, we get self-driving, electric, and super mini cars, but none of them hover do they? Lexus created a hoverboard from Back to the Future, and that’s cute, but it’s for kids in life preservers and ugly Nike sneakers. How good would it be to pull up to a red light in a landspeeder?
A company called Aerofex is designing and testing the Aero-X, a vehicle that is a hovercraft that rides like a motorbike. This vehicle can currently fly 72 km/hour (45 mph) and 10 feet above the ground.
That’s a start, but if you want more speed, the U.K.-based company Malloy Aeronautics might have created a vehicle that reaches speeds of 274 km/hour. Malloy has been contracted out by the US military and will continue testing. Now, before you get your nerf-herder panties tied in a knot, these are just prototypes; but we are getting close to our personal X-34 landspeeder.
You really can’t have a list like this without including the lightsaber. Sure the ones at the toy store look and sound great, but I’m an adult dammit, I want a real one! Imagine strolling through the neighbourhood wielding your lightsaber. That noisy neighbor who revs his loud and obnoxious car engine in the morning will quiet down real quick.
So how close are we to maiming unsuspecting PokemonGo players with the most iconic weapon in sci-fi history? Not that close.
But don’t worry we’re working on it and our scientists are just starting to push the boundaries in regards to sciencing the s#*t out of photons, which by the way, are the particles found in light. Now you know.
The problem is that photons have long been considered massless particles that don’t play nice with each other. People smarter than me at Harvard’s MIT, have been experimenting with the lightsaber idea and discovered that when pairs of photons were fired through a cloud of supercooled atoms, the photons emerged as a one. But according to those brilliant people, that really doesn’t bring us any closer to real lightsaber battles.
So far studies have shown that it’s currently next to impossible to create our dream weapon of choice. But as long as we have Star Wars nerds entering schools like MIT or getting jobs at NASA, maybe our children’s children’s, robotic children (on Mars) might discover the secret. For now, we can only dream.
Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox, and Lucasfilm