On Dec. 18, science fiction fans worldwide will feel a galactic disturbance in the Force when the new Star Wars movie hits theaters. Set several years after events from George Lucas’ original trilogy, Star Wars: The Force Awakens promises to update us on the adventures of Han, Luke, and Leia, as well as introduce a new generation of heroes and villains.
Like Hollywood’s other, lesser sci-fi franchises—that’s a personal opinion—Star Wars deals with futuristic technologies that often have their origins, or even their rough equivalent, in real-world science. It’s a tradition as old as science fiction itself. The writers and designers who dream up sci-fi systems, weapons, and vehicles begin their notional noodling with the actual technologies they see around them.
Here we look at 10 Star Wars technologies and shift our gaze deeper toward the inspirations and real-world science behind them. Blasters. Droids. Hyperspace drives. It’s good to be talking about these topics again, isn’t it?