RSA Debate

Round 2, Part 2b (Death Star firepower)

(posted Saturday, September 21, 2002)

I urge you to heed your own stipulation about brevity and cut it down.

My post length is roughly proportional to the number of 'disagreeables' in that which I reply to, but thank you for your suggestion. Given the vast increase in belligerent remarks in your post, I'll try to take you up on that suggestion in order to avoid confusion from the amount of snipping which would be required.

One suggestion I do not agree with, however, is your attempted renaming of the Superlaser Effect. Insertion of "mysterious" into that MCR title is an obvious instance of prejudicial language use, made worse by the fact that you were already apprised of the correct terminology in my prior reply. "Superlaser Effect" is the accepted term, and that is what shall be used.

Also, you have asserted that "DET theorists" is prejudicial. I do not see how that phrasing could possibly color one's views in a negative fashion, since I was aiming for the least colorful phrasing possible. However, should the concept come up again, I'll use some alternative phrasing which, it is hoped, will be found even less colorful.

Finally, I take issue with the incorrect but repeated assertion that the Superlaser Effect is an undefined, creationist-like theory. You had access to all the arguments relating to the Death Star on your own forums and had help in locating the relevant threads, where it was defined in a far superior fashion than within the older material on my website. (And yes, the 403 error you received was an intentional denial of access to relevant materials, in response to your own.) Finally, creationist theories are not just worthless due to a lack of definition . . . they are worthless due to a lack of testability, appealing to the invisible and unknowable.

At any rate, for the sake of ease of reference, I shall again provide the relevant observations (Section I) and the definition of the theory (Section II). I'll also refer to the newer supporting evidence, the advantages over DET theory, and I'll also refer to your counterarguments from your last post where appropriate, with main reference to your shield arguments occurring in Section III.

I. Observations

With the advent of the Special Edition, many changes were made in the Alderaan destruction event. The differences include the removal of the green "shield" effect (, completely altered explosion effects, and the addition of the rings.

1. The Beam

One thing that hasn't changed between the OE and SE is the fact that the green superlaser beam is, by whatever method, the cause of the destruction of Alderaan. You have suggested that there is an invisible beam component in the following: "As for the termination of the beam, you are assuming that the visible portion of the beam is the entire beam. TESB proved that this is not the case, and the SW2ICS clearly indicates that the visible pulse is a mere carrier on the underlying invisible beam."

First, resorting to invoking invisible beams is very questionable in its own right. Next, there is no canon evidence for a damaging invisible beam component that exists *after* the visible bolt or beam, and I can think of no instance when this could be inferred. There are a couple of canon occasions when damage occurs *before* the bolt strikes, but these instances are exceedingly rare in comparison to bolt=damage episodes.

Further, your effort to employ the non-canon ICS fails not only due to its lack of canonicity, but also in regards to the argument it presents wherein turbolaser bolts are *preceded* by an invisible, lightspeed, laser-beam component, not followed by it. In the diffuse matter of the Alderaan blast, one would have also expected to see some evidence of beam-matter interaction, but none occurs. Also, Saxton, author of the ICS, would seem to disagree with this interpretation for the superlaser, given his comment on the matter: "When the eight tributary beams meet at the weapon's focal point they do not pass through each other as genuine light beams would. Instead they come to a halt and energy apparently builds at that point until a critical moment when the final outbound beam is spontaneously released. Whatever force is involved in the "superlaser", it cannot be mere electromagnetism because non-disruptive superposition of beams is ruled out by the focal point behavior."

Also, any attempt to use the ICS theory can only detract from your shield interaction argument, owing to the fact that there is nothing visibly occurring at or near the planet prior to the green beam's impact. The superlaser beam takes 38 frames to reach Alderaan, at 24fps and from a stated distance of 6 planetary diameters (or about 77,000km). Even rounding the time down and the distance up, that's still 1.5 seconds to traverse 100,000 kilometers, which would still only be 67,000 km/s, or just under one-quarter lightspeed. Any energy traveling at lightspeed would have been affecting the planet well before we see the superlaser hit the planet.

And last but not least, employing the non-canon would also include such things as the Sun Crusher or Galaxy Gun, other devices which employed fancy non-DET maneuvers to blow things up.

(Then, of course, there's the Galileo argument. When Galileo noticed that the moon had mountains, church-men were shocked and appalled . . . according to their beliefs, the moon was a perfect sphere. So, they argued that there was an invisible crystal over the moon, thereby making it spherical. Galileo, in his wit, replied that the invisible crystals were arranged into even taller mountains . . . I suppose I could argue that the superlaser released billions of invisible flying gnomes that dismantled Alderaan piece by piece, but I really don't see the point of such claims.)

2. The Band and the Surface

(includes new polar data)
A circular white area expands over the entire visible surface of the globe:

The band itself does not noticeably diminish during this journey, suggesting that it is maintaining or increasing in energy, as opposed to the natural dissipation with increasing area that one would expect of a common shockwave.

The band outer boundary is also visible in your Frame 4 and moves further in Frame 5, and one can see that it is obviously unrelated to any pre-existing surface or atmospheric object (frames 0 and 2 included for reference):

You have chosen to deny the existence of the white band encircling the globe outright: "The bands are a figment of your imagination. Nothing more." This is incorrect, as the canon visuals demonstrate in two separate ways.

You have also claimed that they are not grounds to conclude that some Superlaser Effect occurs. You are partially correct . . . alone, they are not. However, they are not the sole piece of evidence.


You have also claimed that the surface is vaporized into white-hot gas ahead of the band, and is not substantially intact, despite the readily apparent intact-ness of the surface both before the passage of the band:

. . . and the intact material remaining afterward (one can even see the band disappear behind surviving planetary material as it rounds the globe circa Frame 82 of your own DeathStar-SE.avi vidcap:

You have chosen to deny the existence of the clearly visible intact polar material on the following grounds:

"You are using the chaos of the explosion to misrepresent vague shapes as an intact, solid planetary surface."

Incorrect. There is obviously something there, maintaining its location and orientation after the band passes. There is mobile material around it (including a mobile fireball which eventually obscures the right side of it), but to claim that there is nothing there is, quite simply, to deny the canon evidence. Nevertheless, you claim that "the sheer velocity of ejecta from the planet precludes any possibility of an intact surface". And yet, it is there . . . we can see it.

It is even more visible when the frames are put into motion (the following is an animated gif of particular frames . . . I recommend viewing DeathStar-SE.avi for the full motion and framecount):

It is also interesting to compare what is seen to later frames of the same area during and after the secondary explosion, where absolutely nothing is visible:

"Does it occur to you that this might be a mere insubstantial planet-shaped haze, like the one that's left over at the END of the explosion?"

As evidence for "the one that's left over", you point to a screenshot showing a box-shaped debris cloud which is not at the planet's location, with scattering debris everywhere.

I do not see how a box-shaped debris cloud away from the planet's location helps your case. In any event, the notion that what we see in the polar region is destroyed and immobilized planetary material is not supported by the canon evidence or by reason.


In spite of the intact left side of the planet, and intact polar material, you say: "Yet again, I must point out that the sides and polar surfaces are NOT intact. They were very clearly blown past the atmosphere by frame 5."

Regarding the polar region, the erroneous conclusion can be explained by virtue of the fact that the pole is obscured by the band which, from our perspective, is in front of it, and will not pass over and behind it for a few more frames.

However, I do not understand how it can be said that the left side of the planet is blown past the atmosphere. You use two screenshot overlays side-by-side. (The two are created by different methods, no less, whereas it would have been better to repeat your method for the purposes of comparison.) You argue that the brightened, possibly expanding atmosphere is, in fact, vaporized surface material departing the planet . . . albeit without the characteristic fireball effect observed in all the rest of the vaporized planetary material.

However, you argue that it is vaporized material *only* for the second modified screenshot, and *not* the first. For the first, you argue that it is a shield effect, "PRECISELY as we would expect for the far side of a shield which has just been struck by a superlaser versus a shield which has already collapsed."

This is a gross inconsistency: you ascribe two separate causes to what is a visually identical phenomenon, claiming that one is vaporized material (even though this makes no sense without a fireball) and claiming the other is a shield effect (even though there is no evidence for a shield, but I'll be coming back to that shortly).

*** (Overlay of Frames 6 and 1)

You also deny the bands based on your perception that they are not centered on the superlaser's impact point. As evidence, you claim that the above shot shows that the center of the dark spot is at least 3500 kilometers away from the impact point.

First, and most importantly, it should be noted that the dark spot is not the basis of band location, contrary to your assertion.

Second, the radius of Earth is 7000 kilometers, but I see no valid centerpoint which could be half that radius distant from the point of impact, as illustrated below:

Third, I believe you are also miscounting the large dark debris area toward the left as part of the dark area, which will cause your centerpoint to be offset.

Finally, your assertion fails to take into consideration the fact that the planet is three-dimensional. We would expect to see any ejecta which heads from the surface directly toward the observation point as somewhat less luminescent, given that there wouldn't be so much luminescent material behind it and adding to the luminescence. This can also be seen in the large dark debris area's explosion, where you'll note the rightmost side of it is darker than the left side.

3. The Secondary Blast

Almost a full second after the termination of the superlaser, and therefore after the energy influx has ceased, what remains of the planet explodes in a tremendous blast.

I don't think you make any argument against the existence of the secondary blast . . . on your Alderaan page, you say: "Strangely enough, there appears to be a second stage of the explosion at this point, even more violent than the first one."

The only argument I've seen you make which could possibly have anything to do with the secondary blast is your reference to inertial confinement fusion (which, granted, was made in reference to the polar region, and not the planetary core). However, inertial confinement fusion is based on even, uniform target heating, whether it is done by almost 200 lasers focused on the target surface, or by even heating of a container which heats the target via radiation. I do not see how a lone superlaser beam could be expected to produce this effect for the core or polar region.

4. The Rings

Your Frame 5 and Frame 29 show the appearance of the first and second rings, respectively. You refer to them as "fire rings", though they are not planetary material of any sort. Both rings completely encircle the planet's location, and there is some correlation between the rings' speed and size, and the violence of the particular blast they are associated with. Saxton's measurements place the speed of Ring One at .29c, and Ring Two at approximately .91c, with the possibility that it may be supra-light. You suggest that Ring One slows down from better than .33c to a more leisurely pace, in spite of any natural braking mechanism, adding yet another oddity in regards to the rings.

You have been shown the fact that DET cannot explain the rings, and does not explain the Death Star rings, either. You dismiss that argument with the following:

"Alternative syllogism fallacy (A or B; if not A, then B). The fact that the conventional explanation cannot explain the non-physical behaviour of the fire rings does not lend weight to your undefined MCR."

However, that is incorrect . . . you have mistaken my argument for one that falls victim to that fallacy.

You see, DET not only fails to explain the rings of Alderaan and the Death Stars, but it also stands opposed to those rings by virtue of the predictions one would expect from DET. It is a failed prediction.

Meanwhile, my theory is based on the observations. As it stood from the beginning would suggest that all of the fire rings should have as their centerpoint the approximate center of mass of the object being destroyed. This prediction was rendered true by the following discovery:

Superimposition of the DS2 one frame before detonation and at the start of its ring formation.

Note, if you will, that the center of the Death Star II sphere (where the reactor was located) is not the centerpoint of the ring. However, taking into account the incomplete section, the center of mass of the DS2 is the centerpoint of the ring.

It is, therefore, not a matter of a fallacy of any sort. It is a matter of false predictions of one theory, as opposed to true predictions of another.

5. The Novel Evidence

A. "Space filled temporarily with trillions of microscopic metal fragments, propelled past the retreating ships by the liberated energy of a small artificial sun"(ANH Novel).

This describes the power source of the Death Star as having the energy of a small sun, and/or being a small artificial sun. In either case, we have a Death Star powerplant that cannot be described as being more than around 1e26W, the power output of our mid-sized natural sun. Further, suns operate off of nuclear fusion, and the quote above suggests the same of the Death Star.

You've argued previously that this is akin to Khan's comment that the Enterprise would "flare up like an exploding sun", but that is a simile:

Further, we also cannot ascribe the "liberated energy of a small artificial sun" comment to metaphor, because it is too specific, and too precise:

However, even if there were a way to argue that the reactor description was a metaphor and make that argument stick, there would still be the issue of the quantifiable energy output given in the quote.

This puts limits on the possible reactor energy of the Death Star, and therefore limits the possible energy output of the superlaser.

B. "Luke had seen the shattered remnants of Alderaan and knew that for those in the incredible battle station that the entire moon would present simply another abstract problem in mass-energy conversion"(ANH novel, p. 178).

The way in which the superlaser does its job is defined above.

Some have argued that this somehow refers to the reactor of the Death Star, but that claim does not fit the context of the quote. Luke is pondering the incredibly tough temple and the remains of Alderaan, along with the (possible) destruction of the moon.

II. The Definition of the Superlaser Effect

"The true nature of the "superlaser" remains an undescribed piece of superphysics . . . Questions of "how" the superlaser functions may be unanswerable, but we can determine useful limits on the capabilities of the technology." - Saxton

The Death Star employs the Superlaser Effect.

This effect is based on some form of mass-energy conversion against relatively dense (i.e. solid) matter to create the required energy effect, with direct energy transfer effects being non-existent or extremely limited. This effect is not instantaneous, which would suggest a chain-reaction or propagation time for the effect.

The mass-energy conversion is almost certainly not achieved by way of combustion, fission, fusion, or antimatter means, since none of these can provide the required energy output in a reasonable fashion, and/or reasonable timeframe, and/or in a manner consistent with the Death Star's stated and observed capabilities.

The estimates of how energetic the Alderaan blast appears to have been seem to hover around 1e38J. Assuming 100% efficiency of a mass-energy conversion effect, this would require only 1/5000th of the material of Alderaan. Alternately, 100% of the material of Alderaan could undergo conversion, at 0.02% efficiency. Given the debris which remains (and which the Falcon later bumps into), a higher-efficiency mass-energy conversion is more likely.

The precise nuts-and-bolts of the how the Superlaser Effect is achieved are not stated in the canon, just as hyperdrive and other advanced or exotic technologies are left unexplained. However, we know it to be a mass-energy conversion, and we know the limitations of the Death Star reactor, so we have certain logical and physical constraints which must be maintained. The Superlaser Effect creates a planar shockwave after a certain amount of matter conversion takes place, though the precise appearance and orientation are variable.

The lack of band dissipation supports the concept of mass-energy conversion, provided the remnant polar material observed is subsurface (i.e. mantle or upper mantle). The notion of chain-reaction or propagation related to the band is supported by the timing . . . the secondary blast begins concurrent to when the band would meet itself. The secondary blast occurring after the superlaser has terminated also supports the idea, since no additional energy input was occurring from the superlaser.

The planar aspect to superlaser and superlaser-related explosion events is a constant. In the case of Alderaan, we have two rings. DS1 gives us a ring-and-a-half, while the DS2 gives us only one ring.

The theory as originally created successfully linked the planar effects to a single cause, as opposed to the random ad hoc hypotheses which existed previously. Further, even though the expectation that a theory have predictive powers is a questionable one given the untestability of any theories regarding sci-fi technology, the theory did successfully predict the mass-centered nature of the DS2 ring prior to this theorist's noticing of that effect.

Further, the ship-killer shots from DS2 also both show planar effects as one would expect (with the Liberty even showing a "secondary" blast effect) though the planar effects are different from one another. It is not known with certainty what variables cause the difference, but the only known variables between the two ships and their destructions would be orientation, ship mass and distribution, and beam velocity on impact. Unknown but possible variables would include ship damage, energy utilization, and shield status. In any event, the fact that both show a planar effect when struck by the superlaser is a confirmation of theory.

Finally, though the original state of the theory left open the question of how much DET was involved in the superlaser beam, I eventually came down on the side that there was none or virtually none. My discovery of the lack of atmospheric effect served as confirmation of that hypothesis.

III. Counterarguments

0. DS2 ship shot against the Wingless

You claim that the planar puff is a thin surface layer superheated and blown off. This claim makes no sense, and is contrary to the evidence. Please explain.

1. Chain Reaction

You have previously claimed that all chain-reactions are dependent on certain materials . . . fire burning better than steel, hydrogen fusing better than iron, and so on.

However, you have pointed out only those chain reactions which are based on particular sorts of particles, and have failed to acknowledge the existence of reactions which are not dependent on a certain element or compound.

One such chain reaction I'm familiar with was the one that caused the big stir when the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider was due to come online at Brookhaven. It is called the "Ice-9 Type Transition". Some physicists were nervous that the RHIC would end up doing more than creating quark-gluon plasma. They were concerned that it would end up creating a negatively-charged strangelet (a particle with three quarks like usual, but two of them strange), which would 'eat' all the nuclei of Earth, turning them into other strangelets. The problem would be that all these similar-charged strangelets would have repelled one another, leading to the destruction of the planet.

As you might guess, this hasn't happened. As luck would have it, the worst that might have happened given the energy levels employed at RHIC would be a positively-charged strangelet being created, lasting long enough to snatch electrons from some innocent nearby atom. But, in any case, there is precedent for the idea of a funky, non-material-dependent chain reaction even in our comparatively-backwards physics.

2. Opening Crawl

You claim that the opening crawl, because it says the Death Star had the *power* to destroy a planet, is saying that the Death Star had the firepower to destroy a planet via DET with the superlaser. From your post:

Actually, Vader said "the ABILITY to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force".

Thank you, correction noted, even if that is the sort of thing you would call a "red herring nitpick".

When the term "power" is applied to machinery or weapons, it has an entirely different meaning than when it is applied to people or their institutions.

This is an assumption on your part, unsubstantiated in the canon or by the term's denotation. Vader's description of "ability" as opposed to the term "power" speaks to this point canonically. As to the word not lending itself to the assumption you place on it, I have extracted the relevant definitions from . You are at liberty to add to the list if you feel other definitions apply.

1. The ability or capacity to perform or act effectively. (The Webster's Revised Unabridged on the page goes into further detail on this point)
9.a. The energy or motive force by which a physical system or machine is operated: turbines turned by steam power; a sailing ship driven by wind power.
b. The capacity of a system or machine to operate: a vehicle that runs under its own power.
c. Electrical or mechanical energy, especially as used to assist or replace human energy.
d. Electricity supplied to a home, building, or community: a storm that cut off power to the whole region.
10. Physics. The rate at which work is done, expressed as the amount of work per unit time and commonly measured in units such as the watt and horsepower."

Now, you'll note that the use of the word which you assume to be the only accurate one given the context is the tenth approach, which for our purposes would be the same as "firepower".

However, there is no reason to make this assumption. I find it questionable that the opening crawl of Star Wars was making a foray into physics and weapons yield data, as opposed to simply describing the awesome capabilities of the Death Star.

3. Shield logic

First, let me take a moment to point out that you have attempted to misconstrue a statement of mine regarding your shield theory and claim some sort of victory as a result of your misunderstanding:

Some . . . and now, evidently, yourself included . . . have argued that a planetary shield is the explanation. In a way, you are correct . . . it is the only explanation that can possibly explain the situation.

So you admit that the conventional explanation works, which means that it's a perfectly viable theory. Concession accepted.

What you have failed to notice (besides my comment immediately after what you quoted regarding how your pro-shield argument ignores canon facts) is that I was not acknowledging the validity of the shield idea . . . I was acknowledging that you require it to be valid, and badly.

The Superlaser Effect theory can stand regardless of Alderaan's shield status. However, without a shield, DET fails miserably in yet another way.

100% of your arguments against the conventional theory are strawman distortions, because the conventional explanation includes a shield, and you insist on REMOVING the shield from that theory before attacking it.

Incorrect . . . there is no straw man in play, because there is no evidence for a shield.

3B. Outside Evidence for Planetary Shields

You claim that there is outside evidence for the existence of planetary shields in Star Wars:

"The defense systems on Alderaan, despite the Senator's protestations to the contrary, were as strong as any in the Empire. I should think that our demonstration was as impressive as it was thorough."

Tarkin bragged that the destruction of Alderaan would be impressive because Alderaan's defense systems were as strong as ANY IN THE EMPIRE

Unfortunately, we are not told what this refers to. Orbital defenses, anti-ship surface weaponry, fighter craft, jamming equipment, and/or a naked guy with a sharp stick could all be defined as a planetary defense system, and would logically have been the expected sort of defense in a pre-superlaser universe.

Naboo seemed to have little more than luck and fighters as its defense system. They were, as Panaka pointed out, a non-violent people. Similarly, Leia described Alderaan as being a planet of peaceful people . . . I see no reason to assume that Alderaan would suddenly have planetary shields when no other Republic or Imperial planet has been seen to have them.

Your claim in regards to that is that escalating tensions help prove that Alderaan had a shield. The problem with that notion is that the technology itself is not known to exist. Though military powers would, I'm sure, love if a technology could appear when a problem appeared, it unfortunately doesn't work that way.

(and we know from TESB how easy it is to set up a theatre shield).

Well, we don't know it's easy from TESB, but we did see quick placement in TPM. However, a theatre shield does not make for a planetary shield.

1. Planetary shield technology is known to exist (from TESB and ROTJ).

Incorrect. *Theatre* shielding is known to exist from TESB and TPM, and we know that shield energies can be projected to the Death Star in RoTJ. However, the Death Star is an artificial construct, not a planet . . . given that we have never observed shields which are not line-of-sight phenomena, we must assume that the battlestation was aiding in the projection of the shield around itself. Further, even the 900 kilometer size estimates leave the Death Star II shields too small to be considered planetary in scale.

Over and above that fact, though, is the matter regarding height. You claim a shield thousands of kilometers away from Alderaan, when nothing of the sort has ever been observed. The most distant *representation* of a shield ever observed was this one:

. . . but we know that representation was not perfectly to scale, given that the projector on Endor was far smaller than what is seen in the representation.

Think about that; the difficulty of overcoming Alderaan's defense systems was such that he expected THAT feat to impress people, as if simply obliterating an unprotected planet would not be demonstration enough!

You're drawing a peculiar comparison. Again, enemy ships would be expected to make orbit and try to attack a planet, meaning that defense systems would be rigged against such a threat. A tremendous battle-station wielding a superlaser would not be an expected attack method.

3C. "Shield Halo"

As the superlaser hits, the cloud bank above the impact site is unaffected. This suggests that there is no DET-style interaction with the atmosphere. You claim that the planet is protected by a shield which repels the superlaser until around Frame 4. As evidence for your claim, you point to a "halo" of atmospheric brightening effects which appear on the right side of the planet, past the terminator.

The circle is 103 pixels tall, and 103 pixels wide. You'll note that the entire planet, plus your halo effect, are contained within the circle, with room to spare. Contrary to your interpretation, I see no reason to assume that the halo is extra-atmospheric. It would appear to be caused by atmospheric scattering from a bright light source (i.e. the superlaser point of impact).

Not quite, Robert. You are obviously assuming that you can disprove the extra-atmospheric nature of the halo by showing that it's not many hundreds of km away from the surface

Incorrect. "Extra-atmospheric" does not require such an assumption, nor is it implicit in my argument.

(even though the atmosphere thins to inconsequential densities beyond 100km altitude, so it would only be 1 pixel "wide" at this range, and your red circle is actually extra-atmospheric!).

The red circle is in contact with the planet on the lower left. Note that this may suggest the equator of Alderaan is actually slanted from our perspective, given the flattening of an Earth-like rotating body. In this case, the equator would be at a ~30 degree angle in this direction: /

In any case, the glow which you claimed to be extra-atmospheric off to the right is well-contained by the circle, with room to spare.

However, its extra-atmospheric nature is known because of its lack of consistency, not its altitude, which would be virtually indistinguishable from the surface. If it's an atmospheric effect, then there is no reason why you would see patches of blue ocean between the impact point and the "halo" to the right.

Illogical: a light source producing a diffused brightness in the atmosphere need not automatically obscure everything below it. A clear sky, though appearing blue and virtually opaque to us, does not appear that way from orbit.

It generates a fireball in all directions moving outward from the point of energy release, with no patches or open holes whatsoever.

Then why the claim of fireball-free vaporization in regards to Frame 5?

Since we see blue in between regions of illumination, it is obviously NOT simple atmospheric heating (see the accompanying marked-up screenshot, with white lines pointing out areas which have become more luminescent, and red lines pointing out intervening regions of unaffected blue.

1. Again, your argument is nullified due to the counterfactual nature of the assertion in regards to what one should expect from a brightly lit atmosphere.

2. The blue areas pointed out by the red lines are not at all unaffected . . . they are significantly brighter than they were prior to superlaser impact, which is in keeping with the idea of atmospheric brightening.

Frame 0 and Frame 1, cropped and zoomed:

3. The upper right area marked with a white line is a cloud bank. This is visible in the frame prior to superlaser impact . . . you can also see it in the upper middle of the pic above. Its appearance is to be expected from a point-source of light . . . note the brightness gradient with further distance from the superlaser, also seen below the impact point.

4. The lower right area marked with a white line is not brightened to the extent of the cloud bank (with the esception of one cloud), but is instead of similar brightness to the rest of the atmosphere, including the "unaffected blue" areas you mentioned. This implies atmospheric brightening in an area without clouds that can show the brightest whiteness.

Moreover, you have neglected to consider a fairly simple concept known as "line of sight". This principle dictates that atmospheric transmission of light will not occur if there is an opaque obstruction, such as the curvature of a planet.

In the presence of an atmosphere, you must consider factors such as diffusion and haze. This atmospheric scattering of light can cause a point source to produce brightness in an area 'around the bend' from what would otherwise be the horizon limit.

For example, note this picture from Earth orbit. The sun is not visible, but the high clouds are, as is the atmospheric haze above said clouds.

In the case of the Superlaser Effect, we are dealing with a brightness which is several times that being created naturally from the sun. For example, if Alderaan is like Earth, then the Death Star was approximately 77,000 kilometers distant from it when the superlaser was fired. However, instead of looking like this:

... it looked like this:

Note the gray clouds, and the diffuse surface details. This suggests one of several things . . . either the cap is too dim, or the planet receives very little sunlight, or the atmosphere is much thicker or denser than that of Earth.

It also means that if the beam is heating up a portion of the atmosphere rather than an extra-atmospheric shield , any direct light transmission from the effect will be limited to a radius of 1000-1500km even if it occurs at 100km altitude, where there is little atmosphere to speak of. At 50km altitude (still well outside the useful atmosphere), line of sight is limited to just 800km.

Straw man: your argument is based on *direct* light transmission, whereas I have never claimed direct light transmission from the point of impact as the source of the atmospheric brightening.

Further, it is interesting to note here the fact that Alderaan, despite appearing quite dim overall, is surprisingly well-lit past the terminator.

Note the visible atmosphere past the terminator in the brightness and contrast-enhanced shot to the right. The same result occurs no matter which frame you look at prior to the superlaser hit. This suggests a natural atmospheric diffraction of light far greater than what one would expect from a planet such as Earth, as one can observe much more closely in the following shot:

2. The energy is conducting around the planet in an arcing direction rather than a direct line of sight. Shields can do this, as we saw in TPM. Atmospheres cannot.

Incorrect: Alderaan demonstrates this "light conduction" prior to superlaser impact with anything whatsoever. Further, the Gungan shields to which I assume you refer did not produce the sort of brightening effects over their surface that you require. Note in the following that weapons impact brightening is limited to the target area: (For reference, shields when not hit:

3D. "Shield burn-off"

This would imply that the superlaser is drilling into the planet's mass already, although the sheer scale means that there will be a measurable time lag before the surface expands (even at 5% of c, it would take 1 frame for a lower mantle expansion to breach the surface and 5 frames for a core expansion to breach the surface). Intensification without forward progress is consistent with a shield, but not with your mysterious surface-level chain reaction.

I disagree. Besides the fact that there is no evidence for a shield, there is also the problem for DET wherein shield failure should not provide for the exact same area to be affected as observed.

Scientific ignorance: by assuming that the superlaser must start from zero at the moment it breaches the shield, you neglect conservation of energy.

Completely untrue. I do not assume it must start at zero, but by your own argument regarding the shield re-radiating the energy around the planet, there is no need to assume that all of the sudden a shield failure would make that energy zip down and burn off the surface layers of the planet, either. However, that is what your theory requires.

You see, there is a principle in basic physics which tells us that the total amount of mass/energy in a closed system must remain constant.

Irrelevant . . . a planet is not a closed system. You should know this from arguing with creationists, since the reverse is one of their claims. If it was re-radiating energy into space by use of a shield, there is no reason this energy should suddenly turn inward when the shield fails.

But when the shield fails, the accumulated energy MUST GO SOMEWHERE, hence it hits the surface of the planet over an area roughly equal to the halo.

Why down? The whole point of the shield is to re-radiate the energy away from the planet, is it not? Why would the shield all of the sudden not only radiate energy away, but actually suck down what it's already trying to re-radiate?

4. Debris Chunks

"Interesting. And you conclude that these chunks of debris support your undefined MCR, eh?"

Not specifically. I was just correcting your argument that they didn't exist.

5. Alternative and Ignorance

100% of your attempts to generate evidence for your undefined MCR are examples of the alternative syllogism fallacy (if not A, then B).

Absolutely incorrect. What we are dealing with is not-A AND B. The two arguments are not dependent on one another, though the comparisons are quite telling.

You are committing the "appeal to ignorance" fallacy, in which you claim that because we cannot absolutely prove the existence of Alderaan's shield, it must not exist.

No, not at all . . . but we'll need some sort of proof besides your say-so.

6. Parsimony (

The version of the principle of parsimony I like best is Einstein's: "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."

But, for our purposes, one of the four given on that page is best, such as: "The simplest explanation for some phenomenon is more likely to be accurate than more complicated explanations."

DET is a very simple theory . . . but it is too simple. In order to try to explain away unhelpful facts, additional notions must be piled on top:

A. In order to explain away the lack of cloud burn-off, there must be a shield.

B. In order to explain away the band, it must be denied.

C. In order to explain away the rings, they must be chalked up to ________ (where "blank" is still undetermined).

D. In order to explain away the secondary explosion, it must be chalked up to an invisible beam.

. . . and so on.

Occam's Razor: "Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily."

Indeed. Just above, we have three separate extra entities piled on top of DET. Meanwhile, my theory requires but one, with nothing piled on top.

Further, the DET theory fails to address the similar rings around the Death Star I, Death Star II, and so on, and so forth. More ad hoc theories would no doubt have to be employed in order to explain those events.

"The principle of parsimony is intrinsically hostile to any theory which introduces extra or undefined mechanisms."

Perhaps, but it is even more hostile toward theories which do not explain the evidence. Remember, something must be explained by a theory before parsimony will even bother with it, and DET not only fails to explain Alderaan without lots of extra ad hoc entities, but also fails to explain the exact same phenomena with reference to the Death Stars.

7. The claim is enough

You claim there is a shield, and that the mere existence *of this claim* is proof of shield and DET:

"This is sophistry of the highest order; even if there is only the POSSIBILITY of a shield, that's more than enough to evaluate the DET/shield theory as-is, rather than forcibly stripping away the shield component as if it has been proven impossible."

That is patently absurd. Even if a shield exists, it does not prove DET . . . you'd still have to explain the rings, band, and so on and so forth.


Again, as with the Canon argument, I am at a loss to understand why there's an argument going on. There can be only one . . . let's go with the one that sticks to the canon facts.

Black Knight

Continue to Round 3

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