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In mythology, the hero’s journey begins with a call to adventure, the first incident on a dangerous path that will separate him from his home and family. The call usually comes in the form of a herald, who carries a message that causes the adventure to begin. Often the hero does not recognize the hand of fate at work, and an event which may seem ordinary in fact a turning point that catapults the hero into a world of danger and excitement.
As the Star Wars story begins, a battle in space rages high above the planet of Tatooine with the evil powers of darkness (the Galactic Empire) relentlessly pursuing the forces of good (the Rebel Alliance). Princess Leia sends a plea for help to the planet below. The hand of Fate, in the form of Jawa traders, brings her message to the restless farmboy, Luke Skywalker.
Learn more in our Mythology Section!
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In this section you will find current event articles about real-life events, topics, and people that can be correlated with the Star Wars Universe. Educators can use these current events to bridge the events of Star Wars with the present day. To see current articles for a specific content area, please click the appropriate link below. The most recent articles are shown below.
In the last hangar off the runway in Prineville, Oregon, Sam Bousfield locked down one of the wings to his flying car. His engineer was busy burnishing the parabolic slope of the carbon-fiber finish. Bousfield handed me half a tail wing. It floated in my hand, light as balsa wood. “Eight pounds,” he said, which, for a structural component of an airplane, is almost nothing. Off in the far side of the hangar sat his original wooden mock-up of the chassis, a three-wheeled aerodynamic lozenge right out of a manga enthusiast’s idea of a speed racer. He encouraged me to climb in and get a feel for the feng shui of the driver’s seat, the view out the windshield, the sense of balance. But what he really wanted me to see was that this thing was real—that the flying car is no longer in that jetpack realm of promising technology that never quite arrives. “I expect to take this car into the air in June,” he said.
Two hundred and thirty-five years after the Italian scientist Luigi Galvani reported that dismembered frog legs twitch in response to a static charge applied to a nerve, we are still exploring the mysteries of what he called “animal electricity,” especially in the brain. That the brain generates a bit of its own electricity, which can be detected by an electroencephalogram, or EEG, is well established, as is the fact that some neurosurgeons today sometimes use hair-thin electrodes to stimulate deep brain structures and stop Parkinson’s tremors. But scientists are now exploring a question that is, well, mind-boggling: Can low-voltage doses of electricity, transmitted through hair, skin and skull directly into particular regions of the brain, make already healthy people sharper and more alert?
The reverberations of the announcer's amplified voice fade into the darkened auditorium, and the last few cheers from the crowd are cut off by a sizzling buzz. In the center of the stage, awash in blue and purple light, a figure steps forward. Helmeted like a knight, draped in what appears to be chain mail and wielding an electric guitar, the figure plays the first few crackling chords of his set. As he does so, forked tongues of lightning reach out from two towers flanking the stage and strike him. But he doesn’t even flinch.
As research subjects, black holes have never been more luminous. But in the 1970s, the renowned physicist Stephen Hawking said that he found them vexing. Although he accepted the common wisdom that black holes were completely black, his equations showed that they emitted particles, giving off a faint glow we now call Hawking radiation. “I therefore put quite a lot of effort into trying to get rid of this embarrassing effect,” he said. “But the more I thought about it, the more it refused to go away.”
Making the cut for NASA's astronaut program isn't a prerequisite for doing outer space research. A team of students at Arizona State University have created tiny satellites that can be launched into space for as little as $1,000, hundreds of times cheaper than traditional satellites. The 3-centimeter-wide devices, called SunCube FemtoSats, could make the barrier for space research much, much lower.
Despite its hellish conditions today, Venus may once have been a welcoming world. It's just a bit smaller than Earth, and if water arrived at both planets the same way, Venus could have once hosted oceans on its surface. At some point, however, its atmosphere took off in a runaway greenhouse effect, and now surface temperatures are hot enough to melt lead.
Scientists have heard gravity’s aria for the first time. As two black holes spiraled toward each other and merged, they created ripples in the fabric of the cosmos in exactly the form physicists have predicted for a century: gravitational waves. Unveiled today during a suite of international press conferences, the signal paves the way for a whole new understanding of the universe.
My name is Michael Backus, and I’m one of the lead designers at BioWare. I’ve been working on Star Wars: The Old Republic for over seven years now. When I was asked to write something to Star Wars fans about Star Wars: The Old Republic, I jumped at the opportunity. From the outset, I wanted to give you some insight into our processes, and discuss what our influences were.
The hunt for signs of life on Mars has been on for decades, and so far scientists have found only barren dirt and rocks. Now a pair of astronomers thinks that strangely shaped minerals inside a Martian crater could be the clue everyone has been waiting for.
As one of the brightest objects in the night sky, the planet Jupiter has been a source of fascination since the dawn of astronomy. Now a cuneiform tablet dating to between 350 and 50 B.C. shows that Babylonians not only tracked Jupiter, they were taking the first steps from geometry toward calculus to figure out the distance it moved across the sky.
The new stormtrooper design in Star Wars: The Force Awakens is already a classic — modern, menacing, and very, very cool — and Captain Phasma’s awesome metallic variant has become iconic. For costumers and premium collectors who love the First Order’s aesthetic (or who just love the bad guys), two new Snoke-approved products are on the way from ANOVOS.
Technology has long been a deciding factor on the battlefield, from powerful artillery to new weaponry to innovations in the seas and the skies. Twenty-five years ago was no different, as the United States and its allies, proved overwhelmingly successful in the Persian Gulf War. A coalition of U.S. Army Apache attack helicopters, cruise missiles from naval vessels, and Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk “stealth fighters” soundly broke through Saddam Hussein’s army defenses in Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm, which became known as the “100-hours war.”
A few hundred years ago, fairy tale auteurs like the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen and Charles Perrault helped bring magical tales of princesses, evil ogres, dark forests, weird spells and thwarted love into the storybooks—and to the bedsides—of children, everywhere. But how old are the tales they transcribed? A new study suggests that their origins go all the way back to prehistory.
At this point, Doug Chiang is a Star Wars legend. Now Lucasfilm’s VP and executive creative director, he served as design director on both The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, was the concept artist for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and is currently the co-production designer on Rogue One.
Want to play a game with your friends? Open the Star Wars Soundboard and choose a list of your favorite sounds from the films. Play them and see how many of the effects your friends can name. The sounds of Star Wars are so eminently recognizable that they stick with you even if you’ve only seen the films a few times. Sound designer Ben Burtt did remarkable work by gathering sounds in the field and manipulating them in imaginative ways. His efforts added to the worldbuilding and made the Star Wars universe a more realistic, complete place. These are five of the iconic sounds from the saga:
The blockbuster final scene of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" ends atop a spectacular mountain island with the heroic Rey (Daisy Ridley) extending a light saber to Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) for what feels like an eternity. But the scene leaves fans with many questions. Why does Luke look like he's been sleeping under a park bench for 30 years?
Now that J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars original trilogy remix The Force Awakens has been unleashed, transforming a new generation of cinemagoers into Nick Winters at The Powder Room, fanboys have begun to dissect its myriad inspirations. We know, for instance, that like George Lucas’s initial journey to a galaxy far, far away, with its stormtroopers, Werhmacht-esque Imperial officers, and Triumph of the Will ending, the evil First Order of Abrams’s film was heavily influenced by the Nazis. So it’s a bit ironic then that Adam Driver, the actor who plays Awakens’ volumized villain Kylo Ren, is a former U.S. Marine. Nevertheless, the link between Star Wars and America’s Armed Forces extends much further than that.
American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson found a few flaws in the scientific rationale behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and took to social media to share his fact-checking wisdom. In a string of posts on Twitter, Tyson pointed out a handful of inaccuracies he spotted in J.J. Abrams' space drama, noting BB-8 wouldn't have been able to travel on sand given his spherical form. Tyson also took issue with the First Order's solar-sapping weapon, saying that "if you were to suck all of a star’s energy into your planet, your planet would vaporize." He also noted that "the energy in a Star is enough to destroy ten-thousand planets, not just a few here & there."
Regardless of the galaxy or the faraway land where your favorite piece of fiction takes place, the “otherness” that attracts you must be couched in a sense of familiarity. Decisions and struggles need to ring true in dual contexts — the narrative and the consumers’ brains — for a fantastic tale to resonate. This is the reason that fictionalized worlds have proven rich soil for social science academics. The Dark Knight and Harry Potter were researchers’ favorite touchstones over the last decade, but Star Wars came first — and proved academically relevant in a very different way.
For a story that takes place “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” a great deal of the technology in the “Star Wars” series actually has parallels today on planet Earth. Part of the reason is, ironically, how long the franchise has been around. Concepts and ideas that were the stuff of science fiction when the first “Star Wars” movie came out in 1977 have had almost three decades of science to become real.