Physics in the real world and physics in the Star Wars universe aren't the same.

Even ignoring The Force, several technologies necessary for cheap spaceflight (hyperspace engines, repulsor engines, etc) are described in a way which implies that they use little more than coils of electrified wire in order to function. In the real world, the best one could do with coils of wire is create magnetic fields, or electromagnetic waves, but in the Star Wars universe they produce very different effects.

Let us suppose that there existed, in the Star Wars Universe, some (unique) Machine, which altered the laws of physics in it's vicinity, producing what we think of as normal Earth physics.

This Machine has been active in our solar system for five or ten thousand years.

Some time prior to that, samples of human life were taken, and those samples in turn became the ancestors of humanity throughout the galaxy... then The Machine was turned on, to make Earth into a nature preserve of sorts.

Does this idea seem unreasonable? Is it conceivable for the laws of physics on earth and physics in the rest of the galaxy to be different?

If you're curious about the plot: Someone will smash The Machine in the prologue. Every running electric motor, dynamo, alternator or generator will come to a dramatic screeching halt, with sparks flying everywhere, and will not restart; motors and such which weren't running also will not operate properly, as they have in effect been transformed into (very inefficient) repulsors or hyperspace engines, etc.

There are of course numerous tragic deaths, but on the other hand, the destruction of The Machine sends out a signal which is heard throughout the galaxy, causing The Empire to investigate. Since Earth has no non-humans whatsoever, and The Empire thinks of themselves as the good guys, some sort of humanitarian effort begins.

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    $\begingroup$ If you have a question about an existing sci-fi universe perhaps scifi.stackexchange.com may be the right place to ask your question. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Commented Jul 31, 2017 at 4:02
  • $\begingroup$ HI, BenGoldberg, this seems like more of a scenario that puts Earth as we know it into a version of the Star Wars universe. There doesn't seem to be a clear worldbuilding question unless you want to know how plausible this is which is dealt in the answer you received. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented Jul 31, 2017 at 7:59
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    $\begingroup$ This would be a perfectly reasonable worldbuilding question if everything about Star Wars were removed. It isn't actually germane to the question and distracts readers from what the OP actually wants to ask. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Jul 31, 2017 at 8:07
  • $\begingroup$ This sounds like idea evaluation to me. "If I imagine a machine that does X, will X be done?". If you are asking if it can be done with our current technology, of course not, but if you have lived any amount of time on the planet earth, you already knew that. Could you maybe try to ask a real question? Especially for what sounds like a funny story, people shouldn't worry about the physics too much. Star Wars, the force, the death star, mr bing the space bunny, all that stuff is make-believe, I wouldn't worry about that machine but more about asking a clear question. $\endgroup$
    – Raditz_35
    Commented Jul 31, 2017 at 8:20
  • $\begingroup$ I voted to close as this seems to be a question about Star Wars rather than a question about world-building. $\endgroup$
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Jul 31, 2017 at 9:26

2 Answers 2


Is it conceivable for the laws of physics on earth and physics in the rest of the galaxy to be different?


Scientists, particularly astrophysicists and cosmologists, spend a great deal of time and effort testing the laws of physics for precisely this issue.

They make extensive and precise measurements of the rest of the universe using some very clever hardware and test those results against the predictions of existing theories.

And they are most particularly searching for anything that looks like it behaves differently from our local physical laws.

And they haven't found anything like that.

Note that the principal that physical laws are the same everywhere is a cornerstone of modern physics, this idea is on every physicist's mind. We have every reason to think the laws of physics are the same everywhere we can see, and no reasons to think otherwise. There are things we still don't know, but that's not the same as not knowing what we do.

[In Star Wars] several technologies necessary for cheap spaceflight (hyperspace engines, repulsor engines, etc) are described in a way which implies that they use little more than coils of electrified wire in order to function

You're confusing a vague description to cover some moments of dialog with an explanation of a technology. An example of what's wrong with your thinking : a lump of metal surrounded by a little explosive. That's a summary of a nuclear weapon, but it tells you nothing at all about the underlying technology or how it really works. Or describe a computer or smart phone in two short sentences.

  • $\begingroup$ A pretty small group of humans has been testing those sorts of things for a very short period of time, about for the duration of an unhealthy human's life. While I have no reason to doubt that they are doing their job right (which apparently is testing that nobody has build a star wars machine, tax money well spend again), I do not think that those couple of guys hold enough weight to make this idea invalid. It could've easily been the case that they didn't get money for the machine project but researched if the moon could explode at any time instead or were wrong for the sake of a good story. $\endgroup$
    – Raditz_35
    Commented Jul 31, 2017 at 8:44
  • $\begingroup$ If you feel your taxes are not been well spent, write your parliament. But while you're writing that email you might consider that the computer you're using was built using the science found by those taxes and that pretty small group of humans you're not impressed by. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 31, 2017 at 12:01
  • $\begingroup$ While I'm used to people not understanding certain jokes, I will never get why they need to waste time with silly statements like that one discussing details of a broader argument. I still think you should reconsider your argument no matter how you feel personally about the job they are doing. With your logic, any work of fiction is just wrong. I'm not 100% sure what the OP is asking because it's very confusing, but I do not think he asks if that machine is actually there and Star Wars is real. $\endgroup$
    – Raditz_35
    Commented Jul 31, 2017 at 12:35
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    $\begingroup$ @Raditz_35 The OP asked this * Is it conceivable for the laws of physics on earth and physics in the rest of the galaxy to be different?* and that's what was answered. There's no way to do that without involving real science. As for jokes - try using a smiley, maybe people will understand more of your jokes. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 31, 2017 at 12:55
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    $\begingroup$ I didn't say it wasn't ever conceivable, I'm saying that the scientific consensus now is that it's not remotely likely. Science never stops trying to prove it's accepted theories are wrong - that's how robust theories are found - they're destruction tested until they break. As confidence grows, maybe we spend less on trying to break it, but we never completely stop. Every scientists dreams of breaking an accepted theory, in a sense. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 31, 2017 at 13:05

What you suggest is impossible. Everybody knows that Star Wars happened in a galaxy far away, not here...

Scrolling titles aside, what you ask about is actually a well known philosophical question. Could the rules be different somewhere else? Science would say no. One of the axioms that most scientists hold to is that the laws of physics are the same everywhere. It's very unpopular to argue otherwise. In fact, generally doing so will get you kicked out of the science club (though philosophers will welcome you).

If the laws could be different, you will have to deal with the question of how this machine works. A general rule of thumb is that machines don't get to change the laws of physics, so you'll have to be ready for some magic-grade handwaving. It can be done, but I'd try to minimize the emphasis on the machine. For dealing with it, I'd recommend Sanderson's First Law of Magic:

An author’s ability to solve conflict with magic is DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL to how well the reader understands said magic.

Follow Sanderson's law, and you can get away with a lot.

Do be ready to have to toss science away entirely. What you've done to science here is really unspeakable, so I wouldn't expect her to come back and help you refine your hyperspace flight capabilities.

I would also recommend coming up with an approach other than a "nature preserve." Nature preserves preserve nature. What you describe is the absolute utter opposite of a nature preserve.

Instead of changing the laws of physics, you might be better off simply making the machine act within some new laws of physics. Just to throw an idea out there, what if the balance of the force is required for hyperspace travel to work, and all this machine does is throw the balance off far enough that we can't get it to work. Destroying the machine wont immediately regain balance (which would qualify as resolving conflict with magic if it did), but it will give the protagonists the opportunity to start re-balancing the force so that hyperspace travel starts working better and better. There's always a story to be told when people seek a new balance, and it makes sure your device doesn't fall victim to Sanderson's First Law.

  • $\begingroup$ Of course, Sanderson's law doesn't imply that the author can't be allowed to understand said magic. In fact, I'd argue that's a big (though certainly not sole) part of what we do right here on Worldbuilding -- helping people understand how some particular aspect of their magic so their stories can be more internally consistent, even if the magic is never actually explained to the reader. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Jul 31, 2017 at 13:22
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling Right, it's just going to be a difficult system to understand, unless one delves into philosophy or magic. Trying to explain how you can have a device which changes the laws of physics, and explaining it using the laws of physics, is a tricky little paradoxical loop. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Jul 31, 2017 at 14:20

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