Well, I have long debated writing this up, but I feel it will be a great exercise in explaining why math is weird, especially when it comes to sci fi stuff.
As we all know gatherings of the fanboys of the two Star shows cannot be expected to go without the challenge. Who would win in a fight, the Enterprise or some random ship in the Star Wars universe, more often than not a Star Destroyer. And many long hours have been spent in this debate. But in the end the debate always ends the same way. I would tell you what that is, but I’d be getting ahead of myself.
For now I will focus only on the notion that with some degree of math, that is to say figure out which number is bigger, we can figure out which of these ships is in fact more powerful in terms of raw numbers.
So Let’s get into this. Also, unfortunately I must gather much of my data from an absolutely dreadful website and I will link in the bottom, however given their use of citations and other criteria I will trust their information is at least mostly accurate.
Part I - What does it mean to “kill” a planet anyway?
A popular term in Sci-Fi is the Planet Killer. Seems pretty direct doesn’t it? What does it do? It kills planets. Sounds cool. It means next to nothing, but it sounds cool. And it means next to nothing because in truth we have no idea what a “dead planet” is.
Anyone who has watched any Sci-Fi for a while will have seen a couple of these Planet Killers and will have seen what it does. The odd thing is that they all seem to do it a bit different. I mean which is more powerful, The Legendary Doomsday Machine or the Death Star? In the end both seemed to have very similar effects. The take planets and leave asteroids where they were.
Well that’s where some janky math comes in, playing fast and loose with numbers and pretending it makes sense. Now men (or women, who knows really) more clever than I have tackled this subject and come up with all sorts of odd answers to this idea. They usually revolve around the notion of what do the special effects look like. And to me that seems silly as of course the one with the bigger budget is going to use the better effects.
But let’s hold on a second and go back to square one.
Let’s define a Planet Killer. Put simply a Planet Killer should be anything that can take an inhabitable planet and turn it into an uninhabitable planet. A good one reduces it to rubble, a less god one will leave less of a hospitable surface. But both in the end do the same thing. Where there was once life, there is now lifelessness.
This rules out the Genesis Device. I don’t care about it’s weapon potential, in the end it does not leave a “dead planet” in its wake. In fact it leaves a more alive planet in its wake. (Makes you wonder what would happen if they dropped one on the Death Star)
Ok, so I think we’ve come to terms with the terms or Planet Killing. But we are still left with the age old conundrum. The Enterprise (the first one, no bloody A, B, C, or D) took a blast from the Doomsday Machine and didn’t explode, does that mean that the Enterprise could take a blast from the Death Star?
Well what this comes down to is not knowing how long or how many blasts from the Doomsday Machine it takes to destroy a planet. We know it takes one from the Death Star to do it, but in fact we know very little about the blasts from the Doomsday Machine. They are both unspeakable weapons, but very different in design and function in the long run.
Thus if we assume that it took any more than one blast from the Doomsday Machine to destroy a planet, then it is by default weaker than the Death Star. How much weaker? We just don’t know. So let’s looks at some insane bits.
The Death Star destroyed a planet in a single hit. We have never seen a feat like that in Star Trek, ever. Yet in Star Wars if you do the math it seems like everyone and their mom has weapons that are oddly powerful.
For example Jango Fett’s Slave I was taking out asteroids with relatively small charges. In Star Trek asteroids of comparable sizes have proven to be much more difficult. Thus are we to assume that Jango Fett’s smaller craft was that much more powerful than even the peak of Starfleet engineering?
Again I think we could easily brush this all aside with the notion of “special effects budget” and that Star Trek just doesn’t do stuff like that. Star Trek just isn’t that flashy.
If we did the math at what those small charges did to that asteroid we would be left with numbers far to big to bother writing down (other people have, but we’re skipping the raw numbers until later), and we’d be left with the notion that a shuttlecraft stuffed with those charges could destroy anything.
And the numbers get all the more odd as we go.
One of my favorite numbers I have come across in this entire study is the so called max firepower of the Acclamator-class assault ship (a clone wars era ship) which is estimated by some at 2.4 million megatons (200 gigatons per shot from each turret, 12 turrets). With that number alone you should be confused as to why a Death Star was ever needed, but we will get into the numbers in a bit. Needless to say, they get odd with Star Wars.
Part II - The part the makes no damn sense
Are there shields on ships in Star Wars? I mean really. This is the question that literally stops most conversations. In some accounts yes, they have really really good ones. In others they don’t because ships literally crash into each other all the time. Ships seem to be hit by chunks of asteroids and take no damage, but I could write a book listing all the scenes where a big explosion happens and for some reason the ship takes no visible damage. It’s nuts.
What we do know is that Star Trek has shield. And the one thing we can say for sure is that they suck. They are better than no shields, but they have so many flaws to them it’s not funny. They are basically a plot timer. The ship can be hit so many times and then the plot has to happen. As well as the fun bit where shields sometimes let blasts through if the blast is at the right frequency. So yeah. They are great, except when they aren’t.
Star Wars has no such concern. In Star Wars it’s simple. If you get hit hard enough, you die. Game over.
Now there is also a train of thought that says that Star Wars has very good shields. But that opens the door on the complex notion of ray and particle shielding and the complex nature of both. Needless to say, I’ll pass.
To me I like to good old “what you see on screen is what you get” and that seems to work for most of us Trekkies, but Star Wars really tells us almost nothing about it’s tech on screen. I mean Hoth had shielding so they couldn’t do an orbital bombardment. And this was a fleet of ISDs (Imperial Star Destroyers), much more powerful than the previously mentioned Acclamator-class. And yet somehow there is a shield on the planet to powerful for that? Again, Star Wars shields don’t make sense. Like at all. Either they are so stupidly powerful that it’s ridiculous and everyone has one, or they don’t exist (alternatively there could be a middle ground where the tech manual has it’s head up it’s ass and the shields exist in some form but aren’t that good).
Needless to say I am gonna wrap up this section with the notion that there is no quantifiable way to figure out the shield problem. Star Trek has plot timer shields, Star Wars has plot armor. Either way, nothing blows up unless it’s supposed to(because fiction and what not).
Part III - She’ll make point five past lightspeed
“She’ll make point five past lightspeed.”
No, I mean it. What?!
Ok, so I am assuming this would put the Millennium Falcon top speed at 1.5C (one and a half times the speed of light).
By contrast no up to date Earth ship has been slower than Warp 2 (at the time Warp 2 was considered to be two times the speed of light) since Archer flew around.
And Han is bragging about his ship making “point five past lightspeed.” And later that same ship will be called “the fastest ship in the fleet.”
Am I missing something?
Apparently I am. Because according to some sources ships in the Star Wars universe can exceed anything we have ever seen or considered in Star Trek, that is over one million times the speed of light.
Then what the hell does “She’ll make point five past lightspeed” mean? Again when it comes to Star Wars I am faced with numbers that annoy the frak out of me. But we’ll get there soon.
Closing - The Gosh Darn Numbers don’t add up
Yeah. It doesn’t matter how you slice it, something is messed up about the numbers in the Star Wars universe. The numbers in the Star Trek universe seem down right tame by comparison and those ships are not small, weak, or slow.
So then what’s going on?
What’s with these numbers and why don’t they work in comparison? The answer is simple.
They aren’t meant to be compared.
No really. Star Trek is meant to be numbers that compare to today’s technology or the technology of the era in which the show was made. Star Trek tech is heavily based on the technology and the understanding of technology of mankind.
By contrast Star Wars works in the opposite direction. It starts with what is seen on screen and then people have to do the math to figure out how it did what it did in comparison to measurements we know and understand.
Put simply Star Trek starts with the how and what before it gets to the point we see it on screen, and Star Wars starts with what is on screen and then goes to the how and what. Thus for Trek it’s about “does it make sense” and for Star Wars it’s about “does it fit the plot and look cool.” These are vastly different approaches to the problem of Sci-Fi writing and as a result one will always feel more grounded while the other is much more set in that fantasy realm where making sense doesn’t matter to much.
So in the end who would win in this crossover battle, a ship in our future or a ship from a long time ago in a galaxy far far away? The answer is simple.
The winner will always be the one that in winning tells the best story.
No bothans were harmed in the making of this post.
Infot was taken from this site link without the knowledge or consent of the creator, because I’m that kind of guy.
Also in the end, I think we’d all rather live in the Star Trek universe that the Star Wars universe. As for me, I’m signing up for the Orville Universe.