Intelligent Design: A New Hope

Star Wars Becomes Tool To Teach Modern Technology

from Reuters

BOSTON - It's a Star Wars fan's dream - the first public display of props and costumes from all six films in the series, including a replica cockpit of Han Solo's asteroid-battered Millennium Falcon.

But the $5 million exhibit goes beyond entertainment and turns Star Wars into a educational tool for science and technology, fields in which U.S. dominance faces a challenge from a new generation of engineers in Asia.

"Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination," opening on Thursday in Boston, was developed by George Lucas's LucasFilm Ltd. and Boston's Museum of Science to give some scientific basis to the fantasy of the films.

Luke Skywalker's gravity-defying "Landspeeder" appears on stage in original form - accompanied by lessons in magnetic levitation and the powerful electromagnets that can hurtle high-speed "maglev" trains at speeds of up to 310 mph.

Rows of Star Wars androids and Anakin Skywalker's prosthetic right hand from Episode III - before his transformation into Darth Vader - are used to explain advances in robotic technology and modern medical prosthetics.

The cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, built to a blueprint provided by Lucas, is transformed into a high-tech planetarium with a recorded voice of Anthony Daniels, who played C-3PO, explaining the stars and how modern scientists view them.

In another exhibit, children can choose sensors, select wheels and build their own android-like robots. About 80 props - from Princess Leia's white dress to Darth Vader's mask and R2-D2 - sprawl over 10,000 square feet in the museum.

The museum's president and director, Ioannis Miaoulis, said he feared U.S. schools were failing to produce enough future engineers to meet competition from Asia, putting pressure on museums like his to play a more influential role.


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