Tuesday, 4 September 2012

How to feed a planet – The Economics of Star Wars

We all remember the famous words: "Luke, I am your father!", and the real enthusiast also remember the huge space battle in Revenge of the Sith above the magnificent city-planet of the series, called Coruscant. Star Wars is a truly global phenomenon, with avid fans worldwide – yet when watching the film, few of us realise just how massive the scale of the films is in economic terms. So we now present to you the economics of Star Wars – namely, how a planet the size of Coruscant could be fed and cared for.

Source: Wallpaperimages.org

Size and population

So let's begin by guessing just how comfortable life on the planet is for ordinary residents? Don't forget that even though the whole planet is covered by a city, there are billions of residents – and it still has a water surface of 29%, much fewer than that of Earth but still a sizable proportion.
Using the source of Wookieepedia, the planet Coruscant has 3,000 billion inhabitants, if including non-official and temporary residents – and why shouldn't we? Considering that the planet has a radius of 12,240 km, the surface of a sphere is 4*Π*R2, the land area of the planet is 1,882,663,486 km2. Subtracting water-covered areas leaves 71% habitable, meaning that an 1,336,691,075 km2 area is ripe for metropolisation.
To calculate population density, let's divide the two numbers – and we get that Coruscant has 2244 inhabitants per square kilometre.
This would be a very high number for an Earth country, is nowhere near the population density levels of cities. New York, the Mecca of skyscrapers is 5 times more crowded – so unless Coruscant is not a single city, but huge hubs connected by metal plains of rust, the planet falls short of fan's expectations.


So what does a planet of 3,000 billion require? Firstly, they need food, water, and then naturally electricity – the Jedis can't be bothered with generating all the power.
Let's start with food – every inhabitant probably needs a daily amount of 2,000 kilo calories (let's suppose that aliens eat the way humans do), meaning a total 6,000 trillion kcal. That equals the amount of calories found in 4 Spaceburgers (Star Wars Big Mac's, for research purposes).
So if we wish to pile the planet's daily Spaceburger consumption in 5 cm-tall boxes atop each other, with a thousand boxes per level, the resulting pile would be 600,000 km tall – 1.5 times the distance between Moon and Earth.


The dimensions are the same with water – if everybody drank 5 litres daily, it would make 15,000,000,000,000 litres, meaning 15 square kilometres of water – all drinkable water sources on Earth would be depleted in 62 days, or exactly two months.


Finally, electricity – the average person consumes 1,400 kWh of energy per year. The average US atomic reactor produces 12.2 billion kWh per year, meaning it provides power to 8.7 million people. That is a lot, right? Still, Coruscant would require 344,000 such reactors to provide electricity to it's citizens. Not a very bright prospect.

Pretty magnificent, right? Find us in comments to learn similar facts about Star Wars and other movie series.

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