Aside from “I am your father” and “excuse me princess,” the one (now infamous) phrase that every Star Wars fan knows is: “You’ve never heard of the Millennium Falcon?…It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.”
Ah yes, twelve parsecs. A unit of distance whose name comes from the combination of “parallax” and “arcsecond.” Instead of using literally any unit of time, Han Solo decided to go with parsec. Was he trying to fool Obi-Wan, was he just bluffing, or was George Lucas simply adding a cool-sounding word to the script? It doesn’t really matter, because the scientific implications of Han’s famous phrase are far more interesting. If Han really did make a run from Kessel, he would be older than Obi-Wan when he sat down at that cantina booth.
In my latest Because Science, I’m running down my theory that Han Solo is much older, chronologically, than he looks. Depending on how many Kessel Runs he made and how fast he was going while he made them, he would be at least older than Obi-Wan — he might have even been born before the Emperor.
December is Star Wars month on Because Science! This week is Solo time travel, and in the coming weeks we’ll have discussions of TIE fighter engineering, debates over lightsaber design, and more. Stay tuned!
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