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For Entertainment Purposes Only: Calculating the Cost of a Death Star

You may have asked yourself at some point in your life how much it would cost to build a Death Star today. And then you’d think, well, that’s kind of a stupid question, and you’d move on to thinking about more productive matters, like sex and food and Downton Abbey. But some students at Lehigh University (home to the training camp of Your Own Philadelphia Eagles!) are not like you, and they went ahead and tried to calculate what building a new Death Star would cost.

The results are at the students’ Centives economics blog, and they started by figuring that we’re talking 140 km in diameter and made of steel, which, using a rough calculation based on the steel used in warships, means they’d need 1.08×1015 tons of steel, which they then determined COULD be obtained from the Earth’s iron supply.

But — and these are big buts (huh huh) — you’d have to take most of the iron from the Earth’s core, which isn’t really a good idea even if you could do it. And it would take, at present production rates, 833,315 years to produce enough steel to start construction. Of course, in a few hundred thousand years, you can assume technological advances that might make more of it feasible, but right now, that’s how long they estimate it would take. And that’s before you get the bill for the steel. Okay, then, how much would the steel cost, based on 2012 prices?

$852,000,000,000,000,000. Give or take. That would be about 13,000 times the GDP of Earth. And that’s before considering manpower, and construction facilities, the cost and possibility of getting the steel up there, and other reality.

Put it on American Express. They say they have no credit limit, right?

But wait. “Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away….” Long ago? Well, then, the Death Stars we’ve seen were built and destroyed a long time ago… but surely somebody built Death Stars AFTER the saga that might not have been destroyed and might still be floating around in that far away galaxy, so maybe we can buy one used, right? Yes, that makes sense! After all, the price drops like a rock the moment you drive the thing off the lot.

Check Craigslist. Or maybe there’s a Palpatine Worthington’s Used Death Star Lot someplace.

(Commence the “well, actually” stuff in the comments below)

HT: Headline News

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7 comments

  • this is a genius idea for students.
    I would hope if we did take this on as a species, we’d harvest the metals form the planets around us. A bit from Venus, a bit from Jupiter. The manpower is a whole other issue. I always figured if you worked for the the Imperial Fleet it was a bit socialist, so manpower would be free.

  • I’m going to guess the Empire paid approximately $Not killing everyone on your worthless planet.00. I also imagine they raped a few unimportant planets for their materials. Furthermore, their workers would almost certainly be motivated to work tirelessly by not wanting to die. So the cost to the Empire was negligible, which is why I shan’t build a Death Star until I am Galactic Emperor and can get things for free.

  • Certainly entertaining, but I don’t think the Empire had a payroll. If they did, building a small moon-sized space station with an ‘exhaust port’ that sucked down torpedoes like Takeru Kobayashi, proves that politicians aren’t engineers. They instead followed one simple model throughout our history for oppressing people in order to get them build a giant fucking thing — Slavery: It gets shit done!

  • Lord Vader, I have Tim from Accounts on the line… Apparently they have some budgetary concerns regarding a defense system expenditure for the exhaust system on project “Death Star”.

  • It might be less expensive to build it out of Legos as was done on the model. After all, people are always giving away old Lego sets on Freecycle. It may take longer than a long time ago until today, but it will be well worth the cost and afun place for kids of the future to play at destroying inhabited planets.

  • So do you suppose when needing to rid the Death Star of all the toxic/human/alien-waste/trash that they just eject it all at once into space and then fire up the old planet-killing-Death-laser?