21 ways to take down the Death Star: an academic view

Use the Force if you want, but to really destroy the Death Star, Heriot-Watt University may be the place to start

December 7, 2015
Star Wars, Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker

First there was Skywalker. Then there was Guy Walker.

While Luke Skywalker harnessed the Force to take down the Death Star, Guy Walker, associate professor in the School of the Built Environment at Heriot-Watt University, has created 21 ways to destroy it by simply using engineering.  

“Fair play to the Empire: when we used standard level hazard and operability studies we didn’t get very far,” Dr Walker said,  “but then we went with the more intensive ‘Cognitive Work Analysis’ programme, which highlighted areas of Death Star operational vulnerability which Darth Vader, or at least his key management team, really should have been across.”

He admitted having a good deal of fun applying these systems to the Death Star, but insists that the project does have its serious side.

“Resilience is a major issue in civil engineering projects, key to our transport systems, power stations, all our major infrastructure projects. That means looking at not only the engineering in isolation, but at how the system operates in the real world, including, most importantly, human interaction with the systems.”

21 alternative ways to take down the Death Star

1.      Infiltrate from the inside and seize critical Death Star controls (as per the disablement of the tractor beam reactor coupling in the film)
2.     Shut the main reactor down (only a temporary solution)
3.     Undertake a suicide mission...not really family entertainment, however
4.     Use soft power and entice Stormtroopers to defect.  Create an insurgency
5.     Harness super laser energy and create a critical situation such as blocking thermal exhausts ports and thus robbing the station of its ability to expel excess heat and energy
6.     Shut down energy shields and turn off force field, then use large Star Destroyers to inflict critical damage
7.     Sabotage laser-focusing nexus
8.     Use navicomputer to collide Death Star with a planet or sun
9.     Perform remote attack using hacking
10.   Sabotage hyperdrive station and hyperdrive Death Star into a planet or sun (see above)
11.   Create artificial gravity in wrong direction
12.   Sabotage medical droids and turn them rogue
13.   Poison atmosphere
14.   Infect or sabotage maintenance droids by gradually degrading their performance so that no one would suspect they were secretly allowing normal faults to propagate and worsen (like the famous Stuxnet virus)
15.   Disable back-up systems to make rest of system more brittle and vulnerable to attack
16.   Disrupt the command and control capability (eg, reduce opportunities for communication and information flow)…would take ages to get from one side of the Death Star to the other to meet in person
17.   Attack the executive docking bay when VIPs are arriving.  “Cut the head off the snake”: Would the dumb Stormtroopers know what to do?
18.   Disable tractor beam and prevent Death Star from capturing space-born objects. Use said objects to inflict critical damage
19.   Remove the atmosphere (disable blast doors and compartmentalisation)
20.   Depressurise the interior too quickly and cause hull damage/implosion
21.   Have R2D2 log in to Imperial Network and plant a computer virus to disable critical systems (in the style of Independence Day)

Read more: Hoverboards? Instant pizza? Degrees to consider on Back to the Future Day
Read more: Leicester scholars research the age of Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia

Dr Walker and his team have published a book, Human Factors Methods: A Practical Guide for Engineering and Design, which explores the human role in engineering systems and how to take account of human interaction in their everyday operations.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Related universities

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Head of Visual Arts UNIVERSITY OF HERTFORDSHIRE
Research Officer - Big Data for Better Outcomes LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE LSE
Lecturer in Oral Microbiology UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

Application for graduate job
Universities producing the most employable graduates have been ranked by companies around the world in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016
Retired academics calculating moves while playing bowls

Lincoln Allison, Eric Thomas and Richard Larschan reflect on the ‘next phase’ of the scholarly life