Neil deGrasse Tyson's science on Star Wars: The Force Awakens

This morning astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson shared his observations of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. "With only mild spoiler alerts," he said. As such, we're rating this article "Mostly Spoiler Safe" – but have applied the "SPOILER ALERT" sticker anyway. All that said, you might begin to rage almost immediately when you hear that on Twitter, NDT has demoted R2-D2 to "Dwarf Cute" status, the same way he famously demoted Pluto to "Dwarf Planet." The good news is that it's for a good reason – BB-8 is clearly cuter, and he's made it public that that's his opinion, too.

NDT began his chat today with a note about cooperation. He's "reminded that Red & Blue teams cooperate with one another," referring to Red and Blue squadrons of X-Wing fighters in Star Wars films in general, continuing, "Rare in American Politics." You didn't think this was only going to be about science, did you?

We were losing faith almost instantly when NDT continued: "BB-8 is waaaaay cuter than R2D2."

He followed up with "I guess I did just demote R2D2 to "Dwarf Cute" status. No hard feelings though."

More on the spherical ball droid we've worked with extensively, NDT suggests that "BB-8, a smooth rolling metal spherical ball, would have skidded uncontrollably on sand."

We'll have to test that one out ourselves when spring returns.

Good news for the creators of Star Wars – NDT didn't have any problem with the alignments of the stars in space in this movie.

"The starry skies were unfamiliar," said NDT, "As they should be, a long time ago in a Galaxy far, far away"

While we didn't get the chance to hear any TIE fighters inside a planetary atmosphere in any of the original Star Wars films or the prequels, we certainly did get to see and hear them in The Force Awakens. As NDT says, "the TIE fighters made exactly the same sound in the vacuum of space as in planetary atmospheres."

That would be relatively untrue in real life, as sound does not travel the same way in the vacuum of space as it does inside an atmosphere. Even if we were able to hear the ships in space, we should have heard something at least a LITTLE bit different once we'd seen them fly near the ground.

Of course the same is true of the Millennium Falcon and X-Wing fighters, the lot of which we'd seen inside and outside of planetary atmospheres before.

NDT spoke of Chewbacca's speech, entirely in Wookiee, a language others known as "Shyriiwook."

"Once again," said NDT, "I felt isolated and inadequate for not understanding Wookiee-speak." NDT likely refers to opponents of any language other than English being spoken inside the United States. How absurd it is, that is, that anyone would feel so entitled as to tell a wookiee to speak anything but wookiee-speak.

NDT wonders about Chewbacca's age, as well. "In SW:TFA, apparently Wookiees don't age, or they age much slower than human actors do."

In fact (according to Lucasfilm, that is to say,) Chewbacca isn't all that old, yet. "At 234 years old, Chewbacca is still not yet approaching middle age for a Wookiee," so says "Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary."

NDT watches the food, too. "In Star Wars: The Force Awakens," said NDT, "the lead character snacks on what includes Romanescu Broccoli, nature's only fractal food."

Above is an image shared by NDT, who also said "Never seen Romanescu Broccoli? Fractal Earth food befitting a tale of long ago and far, far away."


While the beginning of this chat was 100% spoiler-free, the rest is not. You won't necessarily spend the whole movie looking for these points, but then again you might. If you've not seen The Force Awakens, you may want to turn back now!

NDT comments on the Star Killer whose energy is harnessed by the First Order. This machine sucks in the energy of a star, then blows it out to destroy planets. As NDT said: "if you were to suck all of a star's energy into your planet, your planet would vaporize."

NDT goes on to say "the energy in a Star is enough to destroy ten-thousand planets, not just a few here & there." We had a hard time believing the First Order would have the ability to aim their star-blast energy in five different extremely precise directions at once, as well.

NDT has a few more bits of information he's going to share on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, so stay tuned. The timeline below will lead you where you want to go – watch out for the Kessel Run!