Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination
September 2005

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Publisher: National Geographic Books
Author: Ed Rodley, editor
Cover Artist:

Cover Price: $16.95
Media: Softcover
ISBN: 0-7922-6200-X - 1st

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand Star Wars. But what if you were? How much better would be your appreciation of the most popular science fiction epic of all time?

Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination, a companion volume to the Boston Museum of Science exhibition, assembles a team of some of the world's most creative scientists and engineers to consider the boundaries of science and science fiction. How has the culture of Star Wars inspired cutting-edge science, and what are the limits of tomorrow's technology? As the exhibition's planner, Ed Rodley, puts it, the book and the exhibit look at Star Wars "not as a blueprint, but as an inspiration,a s a springboard to think about what our future could be like."

In eminently readable, engaging essays, this book takes a look at two key aspects of our techno-future: transpiration and robots. Theoretical physicist Larry Krauss and propulsion expert Marc Millis tackle the thorny issue of faster-than-light-speed travel. Visual effects wizard Alex Jaeger, of Industrial Light & Magic, then explains how Star Wars vessels were designed to depict the evils of technology in the wrong hands, while showing the possibilities of an extra-galactic world that follows physical laws similar to our own.

In the broad field of robotics, MIT scientist Rodney Brooks lays out the most recent thinking on artificial intelligence, while Cynthia Breazeal, also of MIT, examines the basics of human-robot relationships. Using robots on future moon journeys is the subject of NASA robotics specialist Illah Nourbakhsh.Back on Earth, Richard Satava explains amazing trends in medical implants. And, back in the world of celluloid, we learn from ILM animatronics engineer Grant Imahara and animation wizard Rob Coleman how realistic puppets and computer graphics create the "Illusion of Life."

With laser-sharp movie stills and other color photographs, as well as helpful margin features and fascinating sidebars about the technology of such things as Segway and maglev trains, this exciting book fills in the gaps between fantasy and reality, and celebrates the fact that all scientific advancement begins with the imagination.

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