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What We Learned from the MYTHBUSTERS STAR WARS SPECIAL

What We Learned from the MYTHBUSTERS STAR WARS SPECIAL

Over the weekend, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman closed out season 15 of Mythbusters with a second special dedicated to Star Wars, The current season had already featured specials devoted to The Simpsons, Indiana Jones, The A-Team, and Video Games in addition to myths based on Breaking Bad and Jaws. The pop culture was with them…in force.

According to Savage, there was some initial resistance to doing even a Star Wars special at all. “There was internal controversy about testing things from a movie as fantastical as Star Wars,” explained Savage during a recent interview with the L.A. Times. “But what we found, what we ended up doing in the episode, were stories we felt we could utilize the world of Star Wars to help the audience understand where a scientific approach can answer genuine questions from a fictional universe.”

In the first Mythbusters Star Wars episode, all three featured myths were ruled to be plausible. That meant Luke could have made the famous swing in the Death Star with Leia, the Ewoks definitely could have destroyed an AT-ST by smashing it between two giant logs, and Han Solo had the right idea when he stuffed Luke Skywalker into a Tauntaun’s corpse to keep him warm on Hoth.

Will Star Wars emerge unscathed from the latest round of Mythbusters testing? We are totally going to tell you, so consider this your SPOILER WARNING! If you’re still planning on catching the second Mythbusters Star Wars Special then you should probably stop reading now.

Myth # 1

Mythbusters Star Wars Laser bolts
Is it possible to avoid being hit by a Star Wars blaster?
Stormtroopers are notoriously bad shots in the original Star Wars trilogy. After the prequels, some of that bad aim could be attributed to Jango Fett, whose reputation as an excellent warrior may have been exaggerated when he was hired to be the template for the clone troopers.

For the Mythbusters special, a sequence from the first Star Wars film was recreated to determine if it is humanly possible to avoid being hit by the blaster bolts fired by the Stormtroopers. It was also probably an excuse for Savage to cosplay as Han Solo.

The Result

Mythbusters Star Wars Laser bolts busted
Busted.
The blaster bolts may be slower than projectile bullets, but they are still fast enough to strike their human targets. Even changing the variables of the experiment to allow an extra half second for the blaster to be aimed wasn’t enough to escape being hit. Sword master Colby Boothman (who also happens to be an expert in Jedi sword style) was able to deflect at least one of the shots when he took part in the test. However, Boothman had difficulty repeating the feat.

Myth # 2

Mythbusters Star Wars Lightsaber duel
Does being on higher ground give you a tactical advantage with a lightsaber?
Near the end of Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan Kenobi infamously tells Anakin that their duel is over because he has the high ground. When Anakin attacks him again, Obi-Wan simply cuts off his legs and his arm, hideously maiming his former Padawan turned Sith Lord.

To test this myth, Savage and Hyneman constructed customized lightsaber hilts with lightweight carbon-fiber tubes in place of the blades. Additionally, they wore specially designed suits with belts that would light up when the “blade” touched them. Whoever scored a hit first was declared the victor of the trial.

The Result

Mythbusters Star Wars Lightsaber duel busted
Busted.
Savage and Hyneman tested themselves on level ground before putting Savage on the “high ground.” Hyneman won most the first round of “high ground” duels from the lower position, but he and Savage agreed that the first round of tests was inconclusive. After receiving some lightsaber training from Boothman, Savage and Hyneman were nearly evenly matched when they alternated the high ground position over the course of 50 duels. Because the person with the high ground only won 26 out of 50 times, they declared the myth to be “busted.”

What We Learned

Savage used footage from the first six Star Wars films to determine that the average speed of a Star Wars blaster bolt was 130 miles per hour. That’s slower than the speed of a handgun bullet and barely a fraction of the speed of light. But it is still far too fast for an ordinary person to evade or dodge.

Savage and Hyneman also took the time to explain why they didn’t construct working lightsabers and why it may not be possible. As Savage noted, light is made up of photons and you can’t make a photon stop after traveling only three feet from its source. He also explained that the beams of two lightsabers would likely pass right through each other. Hyneman added that a working lightsaber (that could actually cut through metal and stone) would require a small nuclear reactor to be attached to it in order to provide the necessary power.

Assorted Thoughts

We were a bit disappointed that Mythbusters only covered two Star Wars myths, since it felt like the special had a lot of filler with the failures and setbacks of the tests. All of that could have easily been removed in favor of more tangible content.

And as much fun as Savage and Hyneman were clearly having in their mock lightsaber duels, we wish they would have let Boothman and another sword master test the “higher ground” theory. After training with Boothman, the Mythbusters duo did display visible improvement with their lightsaber skills. But that experiment would have been better served with the experts taking the place of Savage and Hyneman.

What did you think of the latest Mythbusters Star Wars episode? Let us know in the comment section below!

IMAGES: Copyright Discovery Communications

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