2229: Rey and Kylo

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Rey and Kylo
We're like 10+ movies in and the focus has been almost entirely on the WARS half.
Title text: We're like 10+ movies in and the focus has been almost entirely on the WARS half.


Rey and Kylo Ren, from the latest trilogy of the Star Wars series, are engaging in a lightsaber duel. Rey tells Kylo that they should not fight, but work together on cosmology, the study of the origins of the universe. Specifically she wants to study the expansion rate of the universe; scientists believe that the universe is expanding, and that the expansion rate is accelerating, but aren't sure of the exact rate, what the rate was in the past, or if it varies depending on location. Since the Star Wars movies take place "a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away", if Rey and Kylo presented their findings in the movie, it would theoretically give scientists more data points. Although it is unlikely that modern scientists would use cosmological data from a movie generally considered fictional[citation needed], especially as said time long ago and distance far, far away are never quantified, some movies and TV shows have spurred scientific innovations due to their subject matter (see below).

The caption, besides explaining the obvious nerd cred this turn of events would earn if it actually occurred in the movies, might also be a play on accusations against the Disney-owned franchise that it has begun pandering to progressives, with the complainers citing its racially diverse cast, powerful (in their eyes overpowered, and Mary Sue-ish) female protagonist, and a willingness to sacrifice sensible plot for perceived progressive talking points (e.g. Vice Admiral Holdo's plan and failure to communicate it).

The title text is Randall's complaint that the Star Wars movies have been more focused on the Wars aspect than the Star aspect. It seems he would want a film about stars. It's worth noting that, with a half-width space, "Star " and " Wars" are the same number of letters long, and are therefore perfect halves of the title.

Kylo Ren and Rey, though enemies in the films, have been shipped in fanfictions and fan theories, so their joining together in this comic may also be a play on that desired relationship.

Star Wars is a recurring topic on xkcd.

The cosmology of Star Wars[edit]

As far as we can tell, the stars of Star Wars (that is, the celestial bodies, not the actors) seem to be much the same as ours. The "galaxy far, far away" has had various depictions over the years, but all sources agree that it is a spiral galaxy approximately the same size as our Milky Way galaxy, albeit with a less prominent bar than the Milky Way has. We don't ever hear what name, if any, the Star Wars characters have for the galaxy, or why they call it a "galaxy" when the word comes from a Latin phrase, "Via Galactica" or "Milky Way" -- a question that Randall has brought up in 890: Etymology.

Light is known to have a speed, although we are not told what that speed is, or if it is constant for all observers in all reference frames. That speed is an upper bound on the speed that objects can travel in real-space, as in our universe, but in Star Wars, ships can travel faster than that speed by "jumping" into a parallel dimension called "hyperspace". This allows them to cross the galaxy in a matter of hours rather than tens of thousands of years. According to our understanding of relativity, transmitting information faster than light is equivalent in some reference frames to transmitting information backwards in time (cf. the tachyonic antitelephone), but such temporal paradoxes are not known to occur in the Star Wars universe. The only known examples of information transmitted backwards in time come from the Force, such as limited precognition of incoming dangers or vague, prophetic visions of possible futures. Speaking of which, "the Force" is said to be "an energy field, created by all living things" which "binds the galaxy together". It's not clear if the Force is a fifth fundamental force or "merely" a manipulation of the fundamental forces by focused will, but powerful Force-users have been known to raise and move heavy objects, conjure lightning, and manipulate minds.

It is not known if the universe of Star Wars is expanding, contracting, or steady-state, although prior to Lucasfilm's acquisition by Disney, the officially-published non-film Star Wars media were collectively known as the "Star Wars Expanded Universe".

In addition to the usual stellar evolution process, stars in Star Wars are subject to premature destruction or spontaneous creation by various superweapons, such as the Sun Crusher and Star Forge.

Many of the planets of Star Wars are dominated by one or two biomes, rather than the dozens into which our homeworld is divided. Some of these are reasonable enough (a planet could certainly be covered in desert or ice or lava depending on its water content and proximity to a star), but others require some novel climate patterns not exhibited on Earth (the same atmospheric pattern that gives rise to Earth's tropical rainforests also produces the Sahara Desert).


[Rey, on the left, and Kylo Ren, on the right, from the Star Wars series, are facing one another and wielding lightsabers:]
Rey: Kylo, we shouldn't fight! Let's set aside our differences and work together to measure the local properties of space, just in case someone in the far future is watching from another galaxy and wants our help to constrain the expansion rate!
[Caption below the panel:]
The new Star Wars totally panders to cosmologists.

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There should be discussion / analysis around the choice of "pandering" to cosmologists in this comic, as there has been a lot of outrage around the last few star wars movies that they are "pandering" to identities and diversity. 22:34, 15 November 2019 (UTC)

Of course the Star Wars environs tend to be seen with the hue of conflict and not of peace. Our information derived from that long ago and that far away is going to be greatly red-shifted! 00:36, 16 November 2019 (UTC)

Is The Force Awakens really the one that people accuse of pandering? If anything, I would think it's The Last Jedi. It not only had more progressive elements, it also heavy-handedly sold the "even you can be a Jedi" message to kids. -- 04:20, 16 November 2019 (UTC)

Agreed, I have yet to see The Last Jedi (I tend to be very late, only catching movies when a TV channel airs them. I only just saw Rogue One), and I know I haven't seen the controversial one. The controversy I heard about centred around casting an Asian woman - who I think I've seen in some comedy videos so I expect to spot and recognize her - which casting lured all the racists out into the open (I still dunno why they thought she was a wrong choice, Star Wars has always had a huge variety of races both real and implied, I'm hoping that when I see the movie I'll find out). Then again, the Black Stormtrooper choice in Force Awakens seemed unquestionably pandering, they already established that all stormtroopers are clones of Jango Fett (and indirectly Boba Fett). Recruiting from a clearly non-sympathetic populace makes no sense, raising kidnapped babies (as I recall the explanation here) necessitates pure expense (housing, clothing, feeding, without any payback until they're old enough to fight) and training them themselves, and the problems with both is perfectly encapsulated in The Force Awakens, which is why they went with cloning an elite warrior in the first place, in the hopes of resulting in blindly loyal pre-trained soldiers. Feels like a blatant attempt to add a black character - which is extra stupid since as I recall the Fetts aren't even white anyway! LOL! (I have the exact same objection to making what's-her-face Brienne from Game Of Thrones the Silver Stormtrooper commander - despite that I loved her inclusion - but I haven't heard any complaints about her, probably because we never see her face in that movie) :) NiceGuy1 (talk) 05:18, 16 November 2019 (UTC)
For me the problem is not the pandering to progressives. The problem is that it made "The Last Jedi" a bad movie, and a very, very bad Star Wars movie (like very out-of-character behavior of Luke, etc.). --JakubNarebski (talk) 10:51, 16 November 2019 (UTC)
Niceguy: while Star Wars did always have many alien races, and had Lando as significant (not comic, not first to die, not the usual kind of stereotype) character, there basically was only Lando as a notable (human) ethnic minority.
For my part (white anglo-scottish male, with all the boons and baggage that implies) I have absolutely no problem with the increase in screen-diversity (including the implication that all the Clone Troopers were all basically ethnicly Pacific/New Zealandesque, though by the time of the Original Trilogy it is canon that the Clone Troopers are phased out/supplemented by a regular mix of conscripts/volunteers. Thus, in the OT context, "white guys" as far as we can guess within their armour, as diverse as the rest of the background cast of humans in every aspect but for being very much all male.
Then in Force Awakens we find that the Empire's continuity organisation is now definitely more equal-opportunities employer/conscripter/shanghaier (revealed by Finn, and you've got Captain Phasma too though she may not have been through the ranks) though it seems more through necessity rather than a more 'woke' HR policy (in-universe!).
But I can take it all as it comes. The imminent one may mess with my headcan(n)on, or fancanon in general, but that remains to be seen. I can probably take it seriously (FCVO...), though I can't take seriously the typical people who use the term Social Justice Warriors - and especially its initialisation - in all seriousness (I don't think Jakub or anyone else here did that, in the way I mean) to define either Them or Us in the kind of arguments that some of the grungier corners of the internet tend to host.
Anyway, that's my thoughts on the matter, with all due apologies. 17:12, 16 November 2019 (UTC)

I have to say I'm disappointed that Randall didn't mention the obvious problems. "A long time ago" - how long? "A galaxy far, far away" - how far? Which galaxy? Without these figures, any intergalactic attempt to pin down the variability of universal constants is doomed to failure. And let's be honest, if we DID have these figures, Kylo and Ren's efforts would likely be superfluous, as we can estimate things like the fine-structure constant through observations of lightsaber physics, Big G from the strength of the Force, and the curvature of spacetime by analyzing hyperspace travel. Cosmogoblin (talk) 08:46, 16 November 2019 (UTC)

And something something something (darkside?) by knowing the optimal Mean Free Path in the Kessel Cluster has an upper limit of around 12pc 15:05, 17 November 2019 (UTC)

The article says, " ... some movies and TV shows have spurred scientific innovations due to their subject matter (see below)." Then, nothing at all is said about the topic below. Nitpicking (talk) 19:38, 30 July 2023 (UTC)

It looks like the bulk of this edit (User:NotaBene, 17/Nov/2019) was removed at this point (an IP editor, 27/Nov/2019).
Personally, I'd prefer that section there for interest (and I can think of some other things we could add), but if that section is truly not supposed to be there then the 'orphan intro-reference' the IP neglected to remove can probably be deleted as well.
You do a lot of fine-editing (which I mostly agree with/don't argue about) so I'll let you consider the question. Unless someone else jumps in before you... ;) 20:42, 30 July 2023 (UTC)
Yeah, my point was to ask other editors which was better, remove the reference or restore the material. Nitpicking (talk) 02:31, 31 July 2023 (UTC)
Sorry, I didn't see mention of how you'd tracked down the discrepancy. I thought you were actually looking for the reason. (My vote would be restore the purpose, BTW, as mentioned. But as I'm not an 'official' editor, I'm probably no more than cancelling out the whim of the no-username who originally decided it should be removed. It's probably necessary to have you/another opine to tip the balance over into actual action, fully resolving either way.) 03:52, 31 July 2023 (UTC)