A couple weeks ago George Lucas re-released Star Wars: Episode 1 — The Phantom Menace in 3D, earning enough extra cash (over $30 million) for the film to surpass Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for the #11 spot in the list of the highest grossing films of all time. We weren’t among that $30+ million in new ticket sales (fool me, you can’t get fooled again). We’ve already discussed today how sucktastic that movie was, so let’s move on to a related Star Wars topic:
are gold bikinis appropriate to wear to the DMV? what would it take to build your own Death Star?
Economics students at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania have made some calculations to help answer that question. The first Death Star was said to be 140 km in diameter (almost moon-like you could say). The students assumed it was made of steel (a bit presumptuous, what with all the lightweight, sturdy alloys it could be) and had a similar density to a modern warship.
A 140 km steel ship with a density similar to a modern warship would require 1.08 x 1015 tonnes of steel. There is plenty of iron ore on Earth to handle such a large amount of steel. In fact, we have enough iron to make about two billion Death Stars, although most of the iron is near the core of the planet, and it isn’t as easy to get to the core as Hilary Swank would have you believe.
The amount of steel needed for one Death Star would cost $852 quadrillion dollars, which is about 13,000 times the entire world’s yearly GDP. In addition, extracting enough steel for one Death Star at Earth’s current extraction rate of 1.3 billion tonnes annually would take 833,315 years. And you just know the design would become obsolete in the 833,314th year or some young upstart would find the small thermal exhaust port right below the main port.
None of this is going to stop us from fundraising, however:
ALMOST THERE, YOU GUYS.