Even if you haven’t seen Star Wars, everyone knows about the Death Star. But how realistic is the idea of the Death Star, and how much energy would it really take power such a monstrosity?
In the off chance that you’ve spent some time away from Earth over the last few decades and you don't know what a Death Star is, it is only the most powerful space station ever imagined and has the ability to blow up an entire planet.
The Death Star is such a mind-bogglingly fantastic concept that it even gave rise to a half-serious petition to the Obama administration to actually build one. Unfortunately, the government, which actually replied to the petition, declined to take up the task, stating that such a task would cost $850,000,000,000,000,000 (and that the administration “doesn’t support blowing up planets”). Star Wars fans told by the administration that building such a weapon seemed unwise, given its “fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship.”
But that got us thinking… If we were in fact able to fix this superweapon’s one fatal flaw, would it really be possible to build and how much energy would it consume?
Is it Even Possible to Power up a Death Star?
Well first things first, we’ve looked into it and can confirm that it would indeed be possible to build this space monstrosity.
Size estimates for the Death Star range from 140 kilometres in diameter to 160 kilometres. It was once estimated that it was about the size of Wales. Generating the necessary amount of metal to create a Death Star of that size would be a monumental undertaking, and would consume a colossal amount of energy in itself.
If you paid attention during Star Wars, you'd know that the Death Star was powered with the help of Kyber crystals (which also served as the energy source for lightsabers), which were mined from the desert moon of Jedha.
But as our search for Kyber crystals has so far been unsuccessful, we’ve had to break it down into more manageable terms.
If a Death Star was possible, the estimated amount of energy would be somewhere close to 1032 joules (J) of energy. And that’s just the amount of power needed for the laser.
Ovo Energy partnered up with Stephen Skolnick, editor for Physics Central, to precisely calculate the amount of energy that the Death Star would require. Related: The Largest US Oil Production Drop In A Decade Was Just A Glitch
They were able to calculate in great detail the exact number of light bulbs it would require to keep the lights on inside a Death Star.
For starters, it would need approximately 191,547,345,149 bulbs. Just keeping the lights on inside a Death Star would cost somewhere in the region of $41trillion. Per day.
And that’s just the lighting. We haven’t even talked about the energy needed to jump to hyperspace, at 1023 per jump.
A single day of powering up a Death Star (from lights, laser, feeding the crew, doing the laundry; to recycling) would cost about $7.7 octillion.
Octillion sounds like an expensive word, and it is. Just one octillion is 30 trillion times all the money we have on the earth. We only have about $90 trillion worth of money on Earth.
Even if we were able to produce enough metal to create a Death Star and were able to produce enough energy to power it up, we wouldn't be able to keep up with the running costs of a single day.
Just recharging the laser would require an output of 72 million times the power of output we have available on Earth. It seems that recharging solutions is a roadblock for more than just EVs. This would essentially render the laser (arguably the most importnat part of the Death Star) a one-off event.
I know this will make those Star Wars fans out there sad but hey, you were looking for the truth, and this is it.
More than just a pipe dream?
We've presented some serious statistics done by Ovo Energy, which gives the overly optimistic a sense of hope, but is there any possibility of creating a Death Star and powering it up? Related: EIA Sharply Cuts Oil Price Forecast
Some people would call us crazy, but let's be real - some of the best technological advances have been borne out of Hollywood. And Elon Musk. Thanks to the two of them, we have electric everythings including the electric jet, handheld computers and smart watches, pixel buds, virtual reality, and Alexa. Even so, we're clearly lightyears away from even thinking about constructing a Death Star, let alone powering it and covering the costs (which is quite impossible, since the world doesn’t even possess the amount of money required). But who knows what the future holds for mankind? If technology has advanced so far in such a short period of time, perhaps we should have high expectations for the future.
While it might seem like we're not even close to achieving something like this - there may be more hope for the next generations. And when we say generations, we mean thousands of years, at least.
Who would be able to pull this off? First, it would need to be someone who could attract a sizeable amount of capital, despite any return on investment in the foreseeable future. If Tesla has shown us anything it is that people are willing to bank (literally) on Musk, even when profits are non-existent. We’re not quite sure how much of a return on investment there would be in a planet killer. We’re thinking not much.
Next, it would have to be someone who wasn’t afraid to take serious risks and boldly go where no man has gone before (if you Trekkie’s were feeling left out). Again, Musk.
Then, it would need to be someone with space prospects, because there is no way we are finding this much energy on Earth. Someone who could explore outer space for some Helium 3. Musk.
There you have it. Help us Elon Musk, you’re our only hope.
By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com
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What chances of success exist for such a ludicrous and futile project if America’s most advanced anti-missile system ‘the Patriot’ supplied at enormous cost to Saudi Arabia failed miserably to detect and shoot rudimentary drones and a few missiles fired by the Houthis of Yemen destroying some of Aramco’s most vital oil infrastructure.
However, if the United States is in a more benevolent mood, it could use a much smaller fraction of the money to develop cheap solar-powered water desalination plants to banish drought from the world and also develop solar electricity to help the millions around the world with no access to electricity.
Dr Mamdouh G Salameh
International Oil Economist
Visiting Professor of Energy Economics at ESCP Europe Business School, London