Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Students devise concept for Star Wars-style deflector shields

Date:
April 30, 2014
Source:
University of Leicester
Summary:
If you have often imagined yourself piloting your X-Wing fighter on an attack run on the Death Star, you’ll be reassured that University of Leicester students have demonstrated that your shields could take whatever the Imperial fleet can throw at you.

If you have often imagined yourself piloting your X-Wing fighter on an attack run on the Death Star, you'll be reassured that University of Leicester students have demonstrated that your shields could take whatever the Imperial fleet can throw at you.

The only drawback is that you won't be able to see a thing outside of your starfighter.

In anticipation of Star Wars Day on 4 May, three fourth-year Physics students at the University have proven that shields, such as those seen protecting spaceships in the Star Wars film series, would not only be scientifically feasible, they have also shown that the science behind the principle is already used here on Earth.

They have published their findings in the Journal of Special Physics Topics, a peer-reviewed student journal run by the University's Department of Physics and Astronomy.

In the Star Wars movies, the latest of which began filming in April, spaceships are protected by a shield defence system that deflects enemy laser fire. In order to recreate this type of shield, the students assumed that a surrounding field of super-hot plasma would be used, held in place by a magnetic field around the ship.

The denser the plasma, the higher the frequency of electromagnetic wave (or laser radiation) will be deflected.

The principle can already be seen, not in a galaxy far, far away, but in the atmosphere around our own planet. It is seen in 'over-the-horizon' radio communications, used for decades in early warning RADAR systems and for long distance communications where satellite communications are not feasible.

Student Alexander Toohie said: "The Earth's atmosphere is made up of several distinct layers, one of which is the ionosphere. The ionosphere is a plasma, and extends from roughly 50km above the surface of the Earth to the edge of space.

"Just like the plasma described in our paper, it reflects certain frequencies of electromagnetic radiation, in this case radio frequencies. Radio communications and RADAR can be beamed upwards toward the sky where it will be reflected back down toward the Earth. This method can be used to send communications over the horizon where radio transmissions would not normally be capable of reaching, much like using a mirror to look around a corner."

A strong magnetic field would be needed to create the required pressure to contain the plasma. The students calculated that the magnet strength required was definitely feasible, but would need a large power source that would restrict space in your ship.

Another major restriction would be that a shield designed to deflect light radiation would prevent any light reaching the pilot, leaving them effectively blind -- unless, like Jedi pilot Luke Skywalker, they relied on the Force to guide them!

The students suggest that an Ultra-Violet camera would be a more readily available alternative, as UV radiation is beyond the frequency of light radiation.

While the technology might not be ready to protect your starfighter, there are more down-to-earth applications that we could see in the future.

Alexander explains: "Another possible application of this principle may be for trapping radiation inside a shell of plasma rather than excluding it. This may be useful for applications that require incredibly high temperature environments, such as experimental fusion reactors."

The students presented their findings in a paper for the Journal of Physics Special Topics, a peer-reviewed student journal run by the University's Department of Physics and Astronomy. The student-run journal is designed to give students practical experience of writing, editing, publishing and reviewing scientific papers.

Alexander said: "This module is very valuable to students who will be staying in academia after graduating as it gives a good insight into the publishing process for academic papers.

"But it is also valuable to students who do not intend to continue in research, as it allows us to investigate problems that we are interested in, and also gives us feedback from our peers on our writing style and the way in which we tackle problems."

Course tutor Dr Mervyn Roy, a lecturer in the University of Leicester's Department of Physics and Astronomy, said: "The aim of the module is for the students to learn about peer review and scientific publishing.

"The students are encouraged to be imaginative with their topics, and find ways to apply basic physics to the weird, the wonderful and the everyday."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Leicester. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Leicester. "Students devise concept for Star Wars-style deflector shields." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140430091434.htm>.
University of Leicester. (2014, April 30). Students devise concept for Star Wars-style deflector shields. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140430091434.htm
University of Leicester. "Students devise concept for Star Wars-style deflector shields." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140430091434.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gulfstream G500, G600 Unveiling

Gulfstream G500, G600 Unveiling

Flying (Oct. 20, 2014) Watch Gulfstream's public launch of the G500 and G600 at their headquarters in Savannah, Ga., along with a surprise unveiling of the G500, which taxied up under its own power. Video provided by Flying
Powered by NewsLook.com
Japanese Scientists Unveil Floating 3D Projection

Japanese Scientists Unveil Floating 3D Projection

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 20, 2014) Scientists in Tokyo have demonstrated what they say is the world's first 3D projection that floats in mid air. A laser that fires a pulse up to a thousand times a second superheats molecules in the air, creating a spark which can be guided to certain points in the air to shape what the human eye perceives as an image. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

3BL Media (Oct. 20, 2014) Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-fuel Impala Video provided by 3BL
Powered by NewsLook.com
What We Know About Microsoft's Rumored Smartwatch

What We Know About Microsoft's Rumored Smartwatch

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) Microsoft will reportedly release a smartwatch that works across different mobile platforms, has a two-day battery life and tracks heart rate. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins