Nav: Home

Was the Force behind Leicester's football success?

May 04, 2016

For many fans around the world May 4th is Star Wars Day, playing on the popular phrase 'May the Force Be With You' uttered by many characters in the films including Luke Skywalker's mentor, Yoda.

However, despite his esteemed position as a Jedi Master in the Star Wars universe, Yoda may have struggled to pull off some of his trickier Force-related feats due to lack of energy, according to students from the University of Leicester.

In the Star Wars cinematic series 'the Force' is used in the universe to accomplish great feats of strength, agility and even telekinesis. The only explanation given for these abilities is that there are micro-organisms called 'midi-chlorians' living inside all living cells.

Natural Sciences students Leah Ashley, Rowan Reynolds & Robbie Roe from the University of Leicester aimed to calculate whether the standard energy production molecules of the body would be able to provide enough energy to produce a feat of Force strength such as that seen in the Star Wars series.

In order to measure this they decided to choose one Force usage moment in the series. In Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back, Jedi Master Yoda lifts Luke Skywalker's X-Wing fighter from a swamp on Dagobah. A previous calculation for the amount of power produced by Yoda found that 19.2 kW was produced over a period of 3.6 seconds, which amounts to 68.12 kJ in total.

In the human body, different molecules are used to gain energy at different points during energy expenditure, based on the most efficient type of metabolism at that time. The students modelled Yoda as a scaled-down human, assuming that human Force users would have similar abilities to Yoda.

Yoda, weighing 13 kg, would have 5.2 kg of muscle, based on an average muscle mass percentage of 40% in humans. The human body contains 250g of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), a chemical compound that releases energy after being hydrolysed, at any given time. By assuming this is for a 70kg human, scaling down to Yoda's mass means he would have 46.4g ATP in his body.

Using a power output of 19.2 kW when Yoda lifts an X-Wing and ignoring ATP recycling, it was found that the hydrolysis of all the ATP both initially present and able to be created in Yoda's body would not be sufficient to provide the energy for this feat.

The students concluded that by using all the energy sources available to humans, Yoda would only be able to produce 5.58% of the power he is calculated to expend in the film. The students therefore suggest that the energy he draws on must come from another source and that the energy channelled by the Force does not come from the user alone.

Clearly in the case of Leicester City and their phenomenal sporting success, the Force is the sum of all parts.

The students presented their findings in a paper for the Journal of Interdisciplinary Science Topics, a peer-reviewed student journal run by the University's Centre for Interdisciplinary Science. Students from the University of Leicester (UK) and McMaster University (Canada) have contributed to this year's journal. The student-run journal is designed to give students practical experience of writing, editing, publishing and reviewing scientific papers.

Dr Cheryl Hurkett from the University of Leicester's Centre for Interdisciplinary Science said: "An important part of being a professional scientist (as well as many other professions) is the ability to make connections between the vast quantity of information students have at their command, and being able to utilise the knowledge and techniques they have previously mastered in a new or novel context. The Interdisciplinary Research Journal module models this process, and gives students an opportunity to practise this way of thinking. The intention of this module is to allow students to experience what it's like to be at the cutting edge of scientific research.

"The course is engaging to students and the publishing process provides them with an invaluable insight into academic publishing. It also helps students feel more confident when submitting future papers. I find it a very rewarding module to teach and I am always pleased to see my students engaging so enthusiastically with the subject. I encourage them to be as creative as possible with their subject choices as long as they can back it up with hard scientific facts, theories and calculations!"
The paper 'How Might the Force Work?' is available here:

Read an article about why it is important to make physics and science education relevant and accessible to the public here:

University of Leicester

Related Energy Articles:

Quantum vacuum: Less than zero energy
According to quantum physics, energy can be 'borrowed' -- at least for some time.
New discipline proposed: Macro-energy systems -- the science of the energy transition
In a perspective published in Joule on Aug. 14, a group of researchers led by Stanford University propose a new academic discipline, 'macro-energy systems,' as the science of the energy transition.
How much energy storage costs must fall to reach renewable energy's full potential
The cost of energy storage will be critical in determining how much renewable energy can contribute to the decarbonization of electricity.
Energy from seawater
A new battery made from affordable and durable materials generates energy from places where salt and fresh waters mingle.
Shifts to renewable energy can drive up energy poverty, PSU study finds
Efforts to shift away from fossil fuels and replace oil and coal with renewable energy sources can help reduce carbon emissions but do so at the expense of increased inequality, according to a new Portland State University study
Putting that free energy around you to good use with minuscule energy harvesters
Scientists at Tokyo Tech developed a micro-electromechanical energy harvester that allows for more flexibility in design, which is crucial for future IoT applications.
A new way to transfer energy between cells
Researchers have described a new method for the transmission of electrons between proteins that refutes the evidence from experiments until now.
Renewable energy cooperatives, an opportunity for energy transition
Three researchers from the UPV/EHU's Faculty of Engineering -- Bilbao and the University of Valladolid have explored how renewable energy cooperatives have evolved.
MIT Energy Initiative study reports on the future of nuclear energy
In new MIT report, study authors analyze the reasons for the current global stall of nuclear energy capacity and discuss measures that could be taken to arrest and reverse that trend.
Wave energy converters are not geared towards the increase in energy over the last century
Wave energy converters are designed to generate the maximum energy possible in their location and take a typical year in the location as a reference.
More Energy News and Energy Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.