Intergalactic Inflationary, Inflationary Intergalactic

(Alternate non-Beastie Boys Title:  Giving One's Audience the Finger)

You know more than a little about Star Wars.  You wouldn't have ended up here otherwise.   You've come to know it as a tale of good, evil, and destiny in a "galaxy far, far away", told against the backdrop of a rebellion against the Galactic Empire, and against the backdrop of a galactic war of secession which was itself largely a ruse concocted by the forces of evil to destroy the Jedi.   You've heard folks over and over again talk about "the galaxy" . . . Han boasting he'd been from one side of it to the other, the Jedi being guardians of peace and justice throughout it, the Empire being spread throughout it in a vain effort to engage the Rebellion, et cetera.   Maybe you've even caught wind of the multiple references to the fact that the Republic and Empire constitute but portions of the galaxy.

What if I now told you that you were wrong all along, and that in fact Star Wars spans multiple galaxies?

You'd demand some serious evidence, wouldn't you?

Well, Brian Young of SciFights.Net has made the claim that you and I were all wrong all along . . . that instead the Galactic Republic and Empire managed to control its entire local group of galaxies . . . but has neglected to provide serious evidence.  It constitutes one of the topics of his recent "Hyperspace Speed" videos here.

First, as a baseline, let's consider the instances of "galaxy" and "galactic" just in a couple of the film scripts:

I.  The Phantom Menace

1.  "TITLE CARD : A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...."

2.  "Turmoil has engulfed the Galactic Republic. The taxation of trade routes to outlaying star systems is in dispute."

3.  "While the congress of the Republic endlessly debates this alarming chain of events, the Supreme Chancellor has secretly dispatched two Jedi Knights, the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy, to settle the conflict....."

4.  "PADME : I can't believe there is still slavery in the galaxy. The Republic's anti-slavery laws...
SHMI : The Republic doesn't exist out here...we must survive on our own."

5.  "JIRA : I'll miss you, Annie.. there isn't a kinder boy in the galaxy. You be careful..."

6.  "The two galactic warriors, Sith and Jedi, are bashing each other with incredible blows. They move in a continual cloud of dust, smashing everything around them."

7.  "The spacecraft flies over the endless cityscape of Coruscant, the capital of the galaxy."

8.  "The sleek Naboo spacecraft lands on the platform high above the street level of the galactic capital."

There are also two references to the "Galactic Senate", bringing us to 10 examples.

II.  Attack of the Clones

1.  There is unrest in the Galactic Senate.  Several hundred solar systems under the leadership of the rebel leader . . .

2.  This separatist movement has made it difficult for the limited number of Jedi Knights to maintain peace and order in the galaxy.

3.  A small GROUP OF DIGNITARIES waits to welcome the Senator. One of the members of the group os a well dressed JAR JAR BINKS, a member of the Galactic Representative Commission, and DORME, Senator Amidala's handmaiden.

4.  Master Jedi, our records are very thorough. they cover eighty percent of the galaxy. If I can't tell you where it came from, nobody can.

5.  I'm glad you chose to serve. I feel things are going to happen in our generation that will change the galaxy in profound ways.

6.  They have to come halfway across the galaxy. Look, Geonosis is less than a parsec away.

7.  Don't you give me orders, Annie!  I'm a Senator of the Galactic Republic.

Put simply, had it been the desire for Lucas and company to actually portray a civilization which spanned multiple galaxies, they could have been much more clear about it.  Instead, it's pretty much totally opaque. Usages in the other films and scripts, The Clone Wars, and the assorted film novelizations all play out about the same way.

That said, there are three instances of the term "intergalactic" in all six scripts (four if you count a reference to the "Intergalactic Bank Clan").  From AotC we have:
A small bus speeds toward the massive freighter docks of Coruscant's Industrial area. The spaceport is bustling with activity. Transports of various sizes moves supplies and passengers as giant floating cranes lift cargo out of starships. The bus stops before a huge intergalactic freighter starship. It parks in the shadows of an overhang."
From RotS:
A DC0052 Intergalactic Speeder pulls up to the veranda landing of Padme's apartment.
And finally, from RotJ, with the operative phrase more or less copied in the novelization thereof:
 "Threepio leans forward and the slobbering villain mumbles something to him. As Threepio steps up to a comlink, Jabba raises his arm and the motley array of intergalactic pirates fall silent."
Is that enough for us to declare that the Star Wars civilization spans galaxies?  I don't think so.  An "intergalactic freighter" and "intergalactic pirates" may seem somewhat tantalizing, but given that they run rather contrary to the great mass of other evidence they must be understood, not as "intergalactic" in the sense of "international", but simply as referring to being "among the galaxy", a common and defined usage of the term "intergalactic" which Brian ignores.

I kind of hate to bring up semantics, but when the other side engages in the semantics gamesmanship of forgetting a perfectly valid definition of a term, meaning it's a part of why they're wrong, what are ya gonna do?

More to the point, here, "intergalactic" can be defined in the same way as "international", where "inter-" refers to "between two or more of (the thing in the last part of the word)".   However, "inter-" need not mean "between".   It can also mean other things, which is why "intergalactic" is also defined as "of, relating to, or occurring in outer space" rather than just "situated in or relating to the spaces between galaxies".

"Inter-" is defined as "between, among, or within" here (bolding mine), or here as "a prefix occurring in loanwords from Latin, where it meant “between,” “among,” “in the midst of,” “mutually,” “reciprocally,” “together,” “during” ( intercept; interest); on this model, used in the formation of compound words ( intercom; interdepartmental)."   "Intergalactic" as merely meaning "outer space" would most likely simply refer to "within or among the or in the midst of the galaxy".
(Incidentally, the word "Enterprise" has its roots in "inter-" and "prendere" (to take), making an enterprise probably originally refer to something taken together, a group activity. 
Also incidentally . . . nowadays, as networking causes us to need to distinguish certain things more strictly, "inter-" as referring to the outside (specifically in the sense of the hopping of a boundary) is becoming the more commonplace usage compared to the somewhat contrary meaning of "within", a fact that often requires explanation to newbies when confronted with the term "intranet".  However, that's something of a modern development, intramural sports notwithstanding.  I, for one, find this quite satisfactory and proper, since the "within" meaning, however common, is indeed potentially confusing.)
Of course, this argument would be familiar to Brian and quite acceptable were it not for the fact that he likes things in Star Wars when they "make it a better comparison to Trek", in his own words.  After all, he's made no claims of multiple galaxy control or visitation for Star Trek, despite a greater number of separate examples of "intergalactic", to wit:

In the 23rd Century, "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" references "intergalactic treaty" regarding extraditions with the planet Cheron which the ship soon visits. And, in Star Trek III the Klingon Ambassador claims the creation of the Genesis Device renders the Federation a band of "intergalactic criminals".  In the 24th Century, "Booby Trap" features Geordi inquiring of the computer whether a Starfleet engineer ever debated at the "intergalactic caucases".  "The Forsaken" has someone referencing Odo's tracking of "intergalactic malefactors"..   "Behind the Lines" features Kira describing the Female Changeling as an "intergalactic warlord".  "Endgame" features a character referring to Janeway not getting the crew home at all costs, instead working on her "intergalactic good will mission".

Of course, you understand and I understand that these references are merely to the "among the galaxy"/ "outer space" meaning of the term, much like Kirk's "to avoid interspace war" in "Balance of Terror".

Further, if pushed, we would probably seek to take a look at who's doing the talking when examining the Federation's intergalactic credentials.   To be sure, having Kirk, the Klingon Ambassador, Geordi, and "The Forsaken" having a Federation ambassador (of sorts) using the term might seem to strengthen the case, were we to be daft enough to try to argue it.  That's a pretty decent pedigree.

Brian's claims have no such pedigree.   He's stuck with the name "InterGalactic Banking Clan" which I already addressed in the Addenda section of this post about the true span of the Empire and Republic. There are also two references in The Clone Wars, one seemingly involving a droid cut off (i.e. in half) before completing the aforementioned name, and a young, not especially bright guy on a backwater planet who refers to the Clone Wars as the "intergalactic war".  There's not even a politician or military officer in that mix at all.  Oh, and he was also excited by the name of the DC0052 Intergalactic Speeder we referenced earlier, which is strange since I don't think we've ever seen a speeder leave the atmosphere of a planet.

Young's lynchpin, he believes, is Obi-Wan pointing on a screen in Attack of the Clones to a point that Brian interprets to be outside the galaxy.   This is, to my way of thinking, a truly hideous maneuver on his part.  I say that not because this comes from the movie and script that also gives us the fact that 20% of the galaxy seems to be unknown to the Republic (see the last link) . . . that's just an extra.   No, I say that because that very same pointing scene then features a zoom-in to well within the perimeter of the galaxy.  This was covered a decade ago or more on ST-v-SW.Net.  And yet, this is quite absent from Young's video . . . presumably he felt the audience didn't need to be troubled with it.

So even if Brian ignores the zoom-in, or if he is simply cherry-picking which part of a self-contradictory scene that he prefers (a not-uncommon maneuver on his part, despite the proverbial lady protesting too much), then he's still left to explain the 80%-of-the-galaxy figure that is still contrary to his claim.

And, if that's not all, Brian at least sort of acknowledges that The Clone Wars episode "Rookies" clearly places the Richi system (and with it, logically, Kamino nearby) within the Outer Rim.
""In The Clone Wars episode "Rookies", at 1:49, uh, one of the clones says "the most boring post in the Outer Rim" and uh then a sergeant or whatever says "if they get past this station they could surprise attack Kamino."  Um, and, uh, the outpost is established to be in the "Richi system".   Now, it was established in Attack of the Clones that Kamino is actually a halo system around the Richi Maze which is a satellite galaxy.  But, uh, they're talking here about the Outer Rim, so in any event, it's at least in the Outer Rim, probably extragalactic.  But, uh, in this instance, let's treat it as Outer Rim, uh, because that's what they said."  
In other words, Brian has three pieces of evidence . . . two from Attack of the Clones about which he makes the grand claim, and the entire plot of "Rookies" . . . which quite obviously run counter to his argument that Obi-Wan's finger is extragalactic.  But instead of acknowledging that something might have been amiss there, he simply ignores it and soldiers on, only considering Richi to be within the galaxy "in this instance" and no doubt patting himself on the back for being so kind to his so-called "fanatic" opponents or something.   In every other statement he pretends that the Republic and Empire are demonstrated to be multi-galactic entities.

Put frankly, such extremist inflationism is very off-putting to me, and would be even without Brian's strange attacks in my direction.  Brian knows very well how to talk like a reasonable person when discussing, in general, how to deal with evidence and fact, but operationally he's actually worse than some of the worst inflationists from a decade ago.   As far as I'm concerned, his treatment of the topic is so laughable . . . as well as his treatment of the speed examples from the rest of the video in which he declares offscreen time invalid for analysis purposes (!?what?!) . . . that he should have his geek/nerd credentials, if any, suspended.

I've often joked about making a parody site entitled GalaxyClassStarship.Net in which I try to inflate Star Trek.   Were I to create such a thing, it would, I am realizing, look an awful lot like Brian's efforts to inflate Star Wars . . . specifically, the Star Trek V trip to the center of the galaxy would not be an ignored outlier like it is at ST-v-SW.Net, but the standard . . . and of course, I would ignore offscreen time.   Similarly, the Federation would be intergalactic (in the "between" sense) despite logic and reason to the contrary.

Oh, and of course, just as with Obi-Wan's finger, I'd hammer the point that Professor Galen's finger is the end-all be-all of fact in regards to warp velocities.

As DITL notes, the course his finger plots accounts for about three quarters of the radius of the galaxy.  Assuming a 100,000 light-year Milky Way, that puts warp drive cruising speed somewhere in the range of 37,500 light-years in "a matter of weeks".   Assuming three weeks (I'd assume two in order to be a proper Trek inflationist but I just can't bring myself to do so), that's about 1786 light-years per day, or 652,000c.  But of course, as seen in the episode, it was done by the Enterprise-D in a hurry in "a few days", meaning (assuming five days just to be nice to the "fanatic" anti-inflationists) that we're looking at 7500 light-years per day, or over 2.7 million times lightspeed.   Were I without shame I could easily drive that up further, since (a) it'd need to be a round trip and (b) Picard could've been accounting for investigation time, meaning travel time was even smaller.   Even with what we stopped at, though, that's enough to get to another galaxy in a year . . . which, compared to Star Trek V, must obviously have meant they were in some heavy traffic or something.

Of course, I don't actually believe those figures, and neither should you.  I'd love to be able to credit Brian Young with not being the sort to go to such inflationist lengths in the direction of Star Wars, but I can't . . .much as he doesn't argue the Federation has sway in multiple galaxies, I don't recall Brian Young ever even bringing up Galen's finger.  Only Obi-Wan's matters to him . . . which, alas, shouldn't surprise a soul.


Introducing the NoLettersHome Blog

NoLettersHome.Info, the source for canon Star Wars technical knowledge, is still being reworked.  But, I wanted to toss something out for discussion, and needed somewhere to put it.   So, at last, NLH has a blog, using the alternate title and name I'd been pondering lately (since some spammy twit took nolettershome.blogspot.com):

Behold the inaugural post, in which I believe I demonstrate that it was 20 years from RotS to ANH, not 18 or the EU's 19:


In theory, most if not all Star Wars-specific posts should be occurring at NLH from here on out, but we'll see how that goes.


My Comment Alerts

... seem to have been hit or miss lately.  Sorry if I missed you.  Am reviewing now.


Iridium Flares

Do yourself a favor and use any means necessary to calculate a -8 magnitude Iridium satellite flare in your neck of the woods, then watch it.


I successfully caught a satellite flare during the day once but it doesn't match the amazeballsness of a -8 at night.  The one I caught a few nights ago was just wow.

What's crazy is the fact that it is a reflection off of a surface no larger than a man-door, and it is 800 km away.  Diffused through the atmosphere on a dark night, it looks incredibly bright and huge, like a motorcycle headlight a little ways down the road.  Yeah, it is very reflective, but still.

Now I have to watch First Contact and that super-speed-planet Voyager episode again.   But in any case, the experience only reinforces the notion that hiding a starship in orbit from primitive 20th Century Earthlings would be a huge pain in the ass without cloaking or optical monkeying of some kind.   You'd pretty much have to be in a high geostationary orbit to have a fighting chance.

Fun Feedback

On a Reddit group entitled "TheyDidTheMath" someone was inquiring about the number of tribbles calculated by Spock at K-7, and someone shared my Volumetrics page.   This led to a review of the page that pleased me greatly:
Also? If you're a fan of volume, calculating volume, or stuff like that ... that's a fun page to read. If you're a fan of sci-fi and wondered "How big is X?" they've got dozens of different ships from different universes broken down in a standardized format. This is the kind of math that glistens. You know shit got real when there's 14 paragraphs of methodology and notes before you even see a number, then 58+ footnotes.
Thank you jayman419 for making my day.


Ep7 Spoiled!

I have the plot of Episode VII.  (I'm just kidding.  I don't.  Please don't sue.)

Spoilers ahead;  you were warned!  (Some real spoilers, but mostly I'm making this up.)

Okay, so we know Ford, Fisher, and Hamill are in it.
We know there is a slightly different X-Wing that looks all beat-up.
We know the Falcon is in it.
We know there will be stormtroopers with more futuristic-looking shiny helmets.
And, rumor has it the Mon Calamari play a role.

Last but not least, it's JJ of Lost and Trek 2009 at the helm.

I think the plot should be obvious at this point.  With beat-up X-Wings and shiny stormies, it is clear that the Rebellion continues.   And with JJ at the helm, there's probably time travel silliness . . . after all, there's already been some Force-related temporal interestingness from TCW and the Mortis trilogy, so the wall's been cracked, if not breached altogether.

So, what we're going to see in Episode VII is the original Star Wars universe in which the Mon Calamari were destroyed sometime between TCW and RotJ.  Without the Mon Calamari fleet serving as cannon fodder, Return of the Jedi would have been completely different… the Rebellion would have lost at Endor.

Luke, taunted by Vader and the Emperor and with hope lost, believing Leia dead, kills his father, possibly staying his hand at the Emperor's chair with more of the "make people live again" crap.   Alternately he offs him, too, intending to guide the Empire back to Republic principles.   But he is surrounded by evil, banal or otherwise, and with absolute power corrupting absolutely, one way or another the abyss stares back into him.

Meanwhile, Han and Leia escape and survive. The plot will obviously involve Han and Leia, decades after the "Endor Holocaust" (to coin a phrase) and still aboard a tramp freighter, desperately time-traveling to save the Mon Calamari and Leia's brother's soul.

The film will be entitled Star Wars: Episode VII:  The Voyage Home ... It's a Trap!

To be followed by Episode VIII:  The Wrath of The "Sahn" from Mortis.   Yes, it will be spelled that way, instead of "Son".

I'll let you know about Episode IX when my spycam in Chee's office sees something notable.

No, not that.


ECQOs in Live Action

There's another likely ECQO in the films, by the way . . . when Obi-Wan is escaping Utapau in the newly available fighter previously owned by Grievous, the star lighting the scene is clearly much too close. As I put it on my blog in a prior post:
Similarly, the space shot that Brian makes claims about features a visible star way, way in the wrong place. For the planets to be lit by that, it would have to be what one might call an "extremely compact quasi-stellar object" (ECQO) in close orbit. Otherwise, the planets should look like the merest slivers. The only other alternative would be to argue that the field of view is profoundly monkeyed with in that scene, and even possibly being actively changed throughout it, which is a possibility but would then also render its use as an acceleration guide kaput. Given that the star moves much like the moons do, it seems it must be either an ECQO or a monkeyed scene.

Here's what I mean about the sliver . . . this is an overlay of Celestia looking at Earth with the sun in a similar position to the lower right compared to the Utapau ECQO at the upper left.

Click to Embiggify

. . . and here is the animated .gif of the star's moon-like motion:

Click to Embiggify

Put simply, it really shouldn't move along with the moons like that. The planet and moons ought to be so much closer that they wiggle about like ping-pong balls by comparison to a stationary, distant sun.

ILM did a much better job at the end of ST2, though the final pullback from Genesis for Nimoy's "final frontier" voiceover was a bit wonky. This can be attributed to artistic license and whatever weird camera tomfoolery was afoot to make it all funky-morphic.


Aircraft Eye Candy

CGI is no substitute.   I think I could watch this all day.

You know you've got awesome aircraft footage and music when the missile launch and explosion seem like such a weak point of the video.  Like seriously, this is so awesome, boobs and fire could only detract from it, and that's frickin' saying something.


Just a note

Sorry for the excess posting today . . . I've had a number of posts-in-progress that all seemed to be ready to get out the door at the same time, and I saw no point in waiting.

There's another post coming up about my prior comments about how far we can take kinematics in TCW (of people-models, ship-models, et cetera) that follows on from the Jedi Crash post, but you have a respite . . . it's not ready yet.

Jedi Crash and Space ECQOs

So I've been seeing some really strange claims about "Jedi Crash"[TCW1] lately.

Basically, a Republic Frigate crashes on a planet, hence the episode title.  To get to that point, however, the ship seemingly hyperdrives almost into a star then comes out of hyperspace, whips around it, and only then meets the planet.

The strange claims are numerous, but let's deal with a few parts first.

Claim 1.  The ship was traveling at relativistic speeds between the star and the planet.

This claim is based on the fact that there is one continuous shot from the ship coming from behind the sun to the ship and planet being visible in the same frame.   Thus, it is argued, the ship must've traveled from the vicinity of the sun to the habitable zone of the solar system in the time of that scene.

Of course, since the scene is only four seconds in length, and in the case of our solar system the habitable zone is around eight light-minutes away, some bright spark got the idea to claim relativistic velocities so as to enable this time compression.  Thus, the trip "really did" take eight and a half minutes (assuming an Earth-like solar system), but it only seemed like four seconds to the people in the ship.

How fast would that be?  Well, the time for light to reach Earth from the Sun averages about 8 minutes and 20 seconds, or 500 seconds.  But if 500 seconds seems like only 4 seconds to the people on the ship, then they must be moving at a rate sufficient to cause time's rate of passage to alter by 125 times or so.

Doing the math, that works out to about 0.999968c for an average velocity.

So, this is all very clever.   However, it is also insane.  I can say that because the ship was seen to crash with an impact velocity measurable in the dozens or low hundreds of meters per second range.

So we would have to presume one of the following:
1.  The ship was at 0.999968c or thereabouts until hitting the planet's atmosphere. 
This doesn't work out too well, since even if we assume that somehow the atmosphere was thick enough to stop the ship in the required amount of time, it would still involve a huge amount of kinetic energy being dumped into it.   A Republic frigate is basically an upgunned Republic space cruiser, so we can guesstimate a mass somewhere in the 10,000 to 20,000 tonne range.    Even ignoring relativistic considerations, the kinetic energy of the ship moving at even .75c would be a minimum of 60 teratons.  (That's 10,000,000 kilograms at 224,844,343.5 meters per second, resulting in about 2.53E23J.) 
Even if we treated it like a meteor and recognized that this 60 teratons would be spread out along the entire flight path (over, say, 30 kilometers of worthwhile atmosphere), that would still be about two teratons per linear kilometer, which just doesn't fly.  A teraton is a million frickin' megatons, and two teratons per linear kilometer would be the equivalent of 125,000,000 Hiroshimas per kilometer. 
Instead, what we actually see is undisturbed clouds and atmosphere along the ship's path, a path highlighted, not by nuclear effects, but by a boring smoke trail left behind as the damaged ship passes.   

2.  The ship was decelerating for the entire voyage from the star and only just barely failed to stop. 
You're moving at almost lightspeed and decelerate to almost zero, but you can't stop?   Really?   And you can't even do anything to avoid hitting the planet?  Really? 
No, sorry. 
And don't forget here that trajectories in a gravitational field are usually curved . . . if you've ever played a game involving orbital trajectories (or even a decent artillery game) you know that the speed can determine the final placement as much as the direction can.   All you'd have to do to avoid the planet is quit decelerating before you're on top of it.
So basically, that whole idea is broken on its very face.  We must literally assume an intentional crash, which hardly makes sense in context.  It is completely ludicrous to suggest that the crash was necessary or prudent if they had the capacity to avoid it.  Ergo, they couldn't avoid it, ergo they could not accelerate or decelerate to prevent it, ergo they did not accelerate to a hair away from light-speed for two seconds then slow down only enough to gently crash, because if they could do that then they could have just stopped, or even hovered, et cetera.

But wait!   It gets worse.   First, once the planet comes into frame, it is many thousands of kilometers away, and unlike a planet being approached at a significant fraction of lightspeed (what, you thought that was just random?) it gives the appearance of being stationary, with no closing speed evident.

So, any near-lightspeed velocity must've been confined to the three seconds prior to that.   Oh, well, except we can also see the sun for a few frames, and it isn't receding at near-lightspeed either.


Of course, there are almost exactly three seconds of time in which the sun is not visible and the planet has not yet come into frame.   One could argue that the ship accelerated and then decelerated, but then there's that whole crash thing again.


So how fast was the ship really going?

Well, there are different ways of estimating it.   One technique might be to simply check the planet's rate of apparent size change in a scene about five seconds after the planet initially comes into view . . . Ahsoka notes they're going to crash into the planet, at which point we see the planet looming in the window.

The shot lasts about three seconds. As with the approach at lightspeed above, I chose to roughly model this in Celestia.  Of course, all the same caveats apply, but even moreso since we're trying to match an existing scene.

Unfortunately, after many hours spent driving around in Celestia approaching Earth with the window at half-transparency and the real second or two scene from Jedi Crash looping in the background, I was forced to give up. It's tough to do, not simply because the camera is shaking or because Celestia is somewhat ill-suited to this particular task, what with not having the finest control of speed or direction.   It's tough because, although I can match the curvature change to some extent, I cannot simultaneously match the motion of the cloud formation on the left which suggests a low range.   Even when I switched to Mars I couldn't get a satisfactory result.   I finally concluded that the shot is obviously zoomed compared to prior shots of folks in the cockpit, or otherwise has issues.  The only alternative is that the planet itself is tiny.

This means that at best I can only guesstimate based on a range of possible matches . . . and this refers to much more than the usual guesstimation level.

Suffice it to say that if the planet is Earth-sized then the vessel was probably a few thousand kilometers away from the planet and traveling at dozens of kilometers per second.

(The ship crashed 14 seconds after the end of the scene, but we know there's missing time.  Why?  Because we go from the bridge shot of the looming planet immediately to a shot of the ship completely engulfed in re-entry flames, and from there to a shot of the bridge showing re-entry plasma in the window.

Of course, in the Brian Young universe where a ship taking off and then being seen in space equals INSTANT UBER-ACCELERATION, the concept of missing time might be debated, but whatever.)

But, this gives us at least an extremely rough guide, and tells us that either (a) the ship passes next to a star then suddenly accelerates to near-lightspeed for no good reason and then decelerates from it in time to crash rather gingerly into a planet ('gingerly' being compared to crashing at near-lightspeed, anyway), or (b) the star and planet aren't very far apart at all.

If the ship had the capacity to accelerate in such a fashion, striking the planet wouldn't have occurred.  The merest touch of the proverbial accelerator pedal and an attitude control thruster would've allowed them to peel away from the planet fairly readily.

Thus, it seems clear to me that the planet and its stellar neighbor weren't very far apart.  And, given that this would be remarkably unhealthy in most cases, we would have to posit that the star itself was exceptionally dim or otherwise non-Sol-like.

The only alternative is that we ignore the shot of the sun with the ship emerging from behind it.   But that brings us to another claim.

Claim 2.  The Republic Frigate survived a solar corona transit, proving remarkable durability

Following on from the above, the so-called star was not very Sol-like.  As it happens, this is fairly easily demonstrable.  How so?   Well, the star here is presented as absurdly tiny.

Unlike our own sun which is approximately 1.4 million kilometers across, meaning that a 115 meter ship sitting near it wouldn't even show up at the craziest of zoom levels, this so-called star is sufficiently tiny that it is only about 60 times larger than the Republic Frigate that goes behind it.

In other words, the entire star is only a handful of kilometers across, something like seven kilometers wide.  We can safely call it less than ten.

This is readily provable via another tack, as well.    Note that the cockpit invariably gets pretty hard shadows on it.  Indeed, there's even a whole scene seemingly dedicated to showing the hard shadows circling around the control panel as the lights on it came on and Ahsoka could finally act.  When she does, the scene shows her from the cockpit floor showing the hard shadows circling around her, as well, until the light source is behind them.

Hard shadows simply would not be the case if you were close to a real sun, because you'd be receiving light from almost 180 degrees of the sky all around you, rather than a distant point source.

Clearly, this makes little sense from any realism-oriented standpoint.    Either it was a full-size star which the ship did not come very close to (which requires that we ignore the scene of the ship emerging from behind it completely, as well as assuming that the scales here in the going-behind-it shot are simply wrong or gravitationally-lensed or something), or else it was a tiny star.

Unfortunately, the precedent here is in favor of a tiny star-like object.   Recall, if you will, the mysterious Abregado Object, a very small red-glowing sphere surrounded by a low-pressure atmosphere.   Its tiny size was demonstrable by the debris field and other details.   This object is definitely brighter and perhaps even smaller, but fits the same narrative, however odd it might seem.

Now, we obviously have no precedent for this sort of thing in real life.   Certainly a nuclear-fusion star could not exist at such a tiny size without outside influence . . . without several hundred thousand more kilometers of gas to produce pressure on the interior due to gravity, there's no reason for such a small gasball to have fusion afoot, and a burning ball of tibanna or somesuch hardly makes sense.

Nevertheless, this is the situation we're left with, so other than a tiny black hole that captured a rogue planet or somesuch, I don't have a lot of educated guesses at the moment.   Perhaps there's some other class of compact luminous objects which, if close enough to a planet, can sustain life on it.

As for me, flying close to a ten-kilometer-or-less quasi-stellar object is a bad idea no matter whose ship you're riding on, but certainly we can't claim miraculous resilience from such a peculiar event . . . indeed, we can't claim much of anything.   Given that the ship came partially apart on re-entry a short time later and featured breaking glass or transparisteel upon contact with the ground in a relatively low-velocity impact (compared to lightspeed or other similarly high velocities, anyway), the claim of super-resilience was an odd one to start with.

Those who prefer to ignore the canon in favor of cherry-picked elements of it and mix those with claims of rigorous science will no doubt have issues with the conclusions here, but the first step in any scientific investigation is to observe the universe.   Peculiar as it may seem to our thinking, we must acknowledge that what we observe is an extremely compact quasi-stellar object (an ECQO, if you will) very close to a habitable planet.

To claim otherwise is to suggest that all our powers of observation of the universe in question are suspect, at which point we might as well just start making things up anyway, as our inflationist friends do.

Claim 3.  The Republic Frigate showed great resilience in surviving the crash mostly intact.

Since I was the first to make this claim, I naturally agree . . . it did much better than we might commonly expect.  The structure failed in the engine area and there were assorted broken hull parts and broken transparisteel, but the ship didn't completely break apart on impact, which is quite remarkable.

Smart inflationists would focus on this rather than trying to create hypervelocity events.


Eight(y) is Enough: The Galactic Span Percentage of the Republic

I.  Introduction

The AotC script features the scene where Kenobi tries to have analysis droids look at the Kamino saberdart.  This was actually a fully realized scene that was cut from the film for some reason.

From the text of the script I was looking at, I could presume the scene was cut because, like the Jocasta Nu scene, it's just arrogance in place of research, so it's a bit repetitive.   However, all the arrogance was removed as filmed, so I don't actually know why it was cut.

II.  The Import of Good Sources

A.  The Galactic Republic = Canada

Something else doesn't show up in the real scene, either, but is preserved in the script:
From high above, light streams down from the lofty ceilings. OBI-WAN crosses the floor of the great hallway, heaading for the Analysis Rooms.
OBI-WAN walks past several glass cubicles where work is going on. He comes to an empty one and sits down in front of a console. A PK-4 ANALYSIS DROID comes to life. A tray slides out of the console.
Place the subject for analysis on the sensot tray, please.
OBI-WAN puts the dart onto the traym which retracts into the console. The DROID activates the system, and a screen lights up in from of OBI-WAN.
It's a toxic dart. I need to know where it came from and who made it.
One moment, please.
Diagrams and .... appear on the screem, scrolling past at great speed. OBI-WAN watches as the screen goes blank. They tray slides out.
As you can see on your screen, subject weapon does not exist in any known culture. Markings cannot be identified. Probablt self-made by a warrior not associated with any known society.
Excuse me? Could you try again please?
Master Jedi, our records are very thorough. they cover eight percent of the galaxy. If I can't tell you where it came from, nobody can.
OBI-WAN picks up the dart and looks at it, then looks to the DROID.
Thanks for your assistance! You may not be able to figure this out, but I think I know someone who might.
That line about thorough records almost made me spew my beverage, because it has PK-4 arguing that eight percent of the galaxy constitutes thoroughness.   "Jocasta Nu, call your office," indeed.

Certainly this would represent a devastating blow to Star Wars inflationism and the EU more generally, because having such a limited knowledge of the galaxy at large would seemingly contradict the views that the Empire covered the entire galaxy . . . or in the case of some more recent inflationist claims, that it covered the central galaxy plus two other satellite galaxies.

Don't get me wrong . . . having records about doodads from known cultures and societies like that even across eight percent of the galaxy is impressive.  Just imagine having a massive scanning apparatus of the kind seen at the Jedi Temple Analysis Rooms and the database that had to identify all the random pieces of crap created just on Earth in the past few years.   It isn't like we've seen any UPC codes on anything, and even if we consider that a guide, not everything has them (nor do they commonly stay on after departing the retail location).   Individual chips and circuits, or in this case something more like individual arrows for a bow, et cetera . . . there's a lot involved there.  Even as impressive as something like eBay can be when you're trying to figure out what something is, it doesn't have every little knick-knack that has ever existed (just most every piece of crap of the last 75 years or so).

That said, though, if the Jedi's cultural knowledge spanned a mere eight percent of the galaxy, I would think this would have rather severe implications for the size of the Republic.   After all, the possibilities would be:

1.  That the Archive had information on artifacts and products from every world in the Republic.
2.  That the Archive had information on artifacts and products from every world in the Republic plus worlds outside it.
3.  That the Archive did not have complete information even from every world in the Republic.

Certainly the arrogance of Jocasta Nu and PK-4 would suggest that #3 is not correct, leaving our options as #1 or #2.   #1 would imply that either the Republic constituted eight percent of the galaxy, or #2 would imply that it constituted a smaller amount of the galaxy but that eight percent was known well enough to have extensive cataloging of artifacts and products.

#1 actually worked out the best.  After all, the later Empire constituted a million systems per the ANH novelization and when displayed represented a "tiny fraction of this section of one modest-sized galaxy."  Per my explorations of such points, I had concluded that the Empire's extent was probably somewhere in the 10-12,000 light-year range . . . which was already stretching the boundaries of "tiny fraction" a bit, but allowed for a properly modest-sized galaxy.   After all, even discounting galaxies below 10,000 light-years, the average after that is about 36,500.   In such a galaxy, and assuming uniform thickness (thus allowing us to use simple circular area), a 10,000 light-year wide Empire would constitute 7.5% of the total, with a 12,000 light-year galaxy making up 10.8%.

If we reversed the order and took 10,000 and 12,000 as being eight percent (with the intent of finding out the 'true' size of the galaxy), then:  a 10,000 light-year Empire would have an area of  78.5 million square light-years, and the figure is 113 million for a 12,000 light-year Empire.   Thus, the total size of the galaxy would have to be between 982 and 1,414 million square light-years, translating to diameters of 35,400 and 42,400 light-years, respectively.

However, apparently the reality of the situation is more in line with option #2.

B.  Oh Wait

You'll notice in the script snippet above that there are a few spelling oddities, such as "sensot tray" for "sensor tray", "screem" for "screen", and "Probablt" for "Probably".   I presume these are the result of an optical character recognition system that wasn't quite at 100% accuracy.

Given these facts, I went ahead and googled for "eighty percent of the galaxy", cross-checking against the novelization as well, and found that this seems to be the preferred figure.   For instance, this site has the AotC script with no obvious spelling issues, and uses "eighty", and the novelization concurs with this value.

Therefore, the Jedi Archive has cultural artifact and product references for eighty percent of the galaxy.

Glad I didn't waste any beverage (or monitor) due to someone's bad OCR job!

III.  Doing it Right This Time

Just for reference, eighty percent of an average size galaxy of uniform thickness would represent an area with a diameter of 32,650 light-years.

We are thus left with a few choices, which (to avoid confusion with the other set of choices) I shall label with letters.

A.  The member systems of the Republic span about 10% of the galaxy, give or take a few points by comparison to the later Empire, but known galactic civilization as a whole is far larger, and the archives are thorough in regards to both Republic worlds and many other areas outside the Republic (e.g. Hutt-controlled space, other galactic nations, non-aligned planets or factions such as Kamino (were it not deleted), et cetera).
B.  The Republic spans some percentage of the galaxy between 10 and 30%, but known galactic civilization as a whole is far larger, and the archives are thorough regarding both Republic worlds and the many other areas outside the Republic (e.g. Hutt-controlled space, other galactic nations, non-aligned planets or factions such as Kamino (were it not deleted), et cetera).
C.  The Republic spans some percentage of the galaxy between 30 and 60%, but known galactic civilization as a whole is rather larger, and the archives are thorough regarding both Republic worlds and the several other areas outside the Republic (e.g. Hutt-controlled space, other galactic nations, non-aligned planets or factions such as Kamino (were it not deleted), et cetera).
D.  The Republic spans some percentage of the galaxy between 60 and 80%, but known galactic civilization as a whole is somewhat larger, and the archives are thorough regarding both Republic worlds and the few other areas outside the Republic (e.g. Hutt-controlled space, other galactic nations, non-aligned planets or factions such as Kamino (were it not deleted), et cetera).
E.  The Republic spans about 80% of the galaxy, but known galactic civilization is a bit larger, and the archives are thorough regarding both Republic worlds and the handful of areas outside the Republic.
F.  The Republic member systems span the entire galaxy, with the artifacts and products of certain lowly inhabited worlds (Endor, for example) not recorded in the archives, hence the 20% listed as missing.

Just to clarify, the "other areas outside the Republic" would not include Separatist worlds, since almost all of those would be expected to be part of the Republic prior to separating, and of course this is before the outbreak of hostilities when several hundred had declared an intent to leave.

IV.  Making Sense of Things

Now, given that the Empire represented a "tiny fraction of this section of one modest-sized galaxy", several of the options above represent contradiction.  For instance, a Republic spanning 80% of the galaxy doesn't constitute a tiny fraction of anything, much less a tiny fraction of a "section".

Indeed, relative population also supports this view.   In the AotC novelization we hear of the trillions of common folk in the Republic, and in the RotS novelization we hear of Palpatine pondering possibly quadrillions in the galaxy at large.  If there are trillions of common folk but the galaxy at large has quadrillions, then obviously the Republic is some factor of times smaller than the galaxy as a whole.

However, we must also accept that the Disney-era canon is going to be chock-full of old EU-era misunderstandings.  For instance, at times the EU version of the Star Wars galaxy was said to be even larger than our rather stout galaxy, and while at times there were "unknown regions" and "wild space" and whatnot, many old inflationary claims argued that the EU had a completely galaxy-spanning Empire, and newer claims suggest more still.)

Nevertheless, until that inevitable contradiction with the old existing canon occurs, it makes the most sense to stick with the canon facts as we now know them.  (And indeed, when that day comes, we would be wise to remember that the Lucas-era canon stories are "the immovable objects of Star Wars history, the characters and events to which all other tales must align."  I suppose one could argue that leaves the facts open to revision, but that'd make things a hot mess.)

The fact that they would have references spanning eighty percent of the galaxy represents significant upward pressure for our conclusion.   However, at the same time, the "tiny fraction" quote refers to a map which, it is suggested, ought to show a contiguous and small part of the galaxy.

Were it not for the contiguous million systems suggested by the map, we might consider the option of a Republic of complicated shape, perhaps looking more like a road system than anything else but with a lot of untamed space in-between the roads.   The Republic would be all contiguous, but rather abnormally spread out.  Such a "Gerrymandered Republic" has some precedent . . . indeed, from the TCW novelization, we have Palpatine using a holographic map:
Ch. 2: "Palpatine sat down and activated a holochart. It hovered above his desk, a complex web of lines and clusters of light representing the major points of the known galaxy. He tapped the control to remove layers of detail, and entire star systems and planets winked out of existence -- so easily done, so very easy -- to leave a few snaking threads of colored light that ended in the Outer Rim. "A hologram, as they say, is worth a thousand words." The threads were hyperspace routes. And they were all controlled by the Hutts. [...] This Hutt has control of the hyperspace access we need to move troops and materiel to the Outer Rim,"
One could argue that the web of lines and clusters of light supports a Gerrymandered Republic, with snaking threads and such.  (And note also the "known galaxy"!)

But as noted, the ANH map seems to be contiguous.

Or is it really?

We could, after all, argue that the million stars on that map, while indeed being the Empire, did not in fact represent all the stars.   That is to say, just as Palpatine hid layers on his holomap, so too might the map Vader was looking at only have contained inhabited systems, and thus was itself only showing a "tiny fraction" of the stars..   Then, all we would have to deal with would be not the "tiny fraction", but only "this section of a modest-sized galaxy".

This would allow us to move up from Option A to something at least a little bigger, like Option B . . . maaayyybe even Option C, though it doesn't really follow to allow for a "section" that is larger than half of the galaxy.

V.  Conclusion

So, let's say we have an average galaxy of 36,500 light-years . . . and let's say the Republic constituted a third of it.   That would be either 12,000 and some-odd light-years just by taking that diameter and dividing by three, or, using our flat-galaxy area technique, a circular area of a bit over 21,000 light-years in width.  (Specifically, a 36,500 light-year diameter galaxy would, at uniform thickness, represent an area of just over a billion square light-years.  A third of that falls a bit shy of 350,000,000 square light-years.)

The reality is not clear, of course, since we've never actually seen a real map.  And, even the 21,000 light-year diameter doesn't seem to sit well compared to "this section".  But, this is somewhat easily managed.  After all, the Republic and Empire need not be circular.  It could meet its area requirement by being a square 18,675 light-years on a side, or a rectangle or oval spanning almost the whole length of half the galaxy but only penetrating half-way across its width, et cetera.  The most interesting thought is that it simply represents a wedge of about a third.  This seems to best satisfy the notion of "this section", certainly.

But, it does feel proper to roll with the area figure generally, since then there would be enough additional galactic area fairly close to the borders to allow for eighty percent of the galaxy to be known well.

But, the true value could be well above or well below that figure.   After all, the Republic was a vast network of tens of thousands of systems . . . the Empire seemed somewhat bigger, numerically-speaking, though perhaps more consolidated.

In any case, none of this represents firm figures.   A galaxy of uniform thickness and perfectly average size is a shot in the dark.   There's thus currently no hard data to go on to get a real size other than "modest-sized" for the galaxy itself.   For all we know, this could actually refer to a tiny galaxy . . . the smallest spirals are currently thought to be about 15000 light-years wide, in which case the whole Republic could easily be a mere 12,000 light-years across, by our easy area maneuver.

And, there are other possibilities which I haven't followed here.   People complain about my excessive length, after all.

VI.  Addenda

Is it even plausible that the Republic has extra-galactic holdings?   Not really, no.  Brian Young of SciFights has, of course, argued that the Republic completely controlled both the main galaxy and two satellite galaxies, an apparent effort to put Star Wars on par with Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda.

His basis for this is two satellite galaxies showing up in a picture where he then ignores that the zoom-in to the stated location is well within the galaxy.  His other basis is the name of the "Intergalactic Banking Clan".

Perhaps the owner of Interstellar Data in California should call his office.  These cats, too.   Beyond mere "interstellar" modern businesses, we have "intergalactic" ones . . . Intergalactic Toys LLC, Intergalactic Bread Company, Intergalactic Web Designers . . . these all came up on a quick Googling for "intergalactic small business".  And don't forget all the small businesses who fancy themselves "International" . . . I've dealt with one whose effective range was about fifty miles on its best day.   The same goes for "National" businesses that aren't, or ones who fancy themselves "United States" something-or-other or something-or-other "of America" or similar.

For banks themselves, how many "national banks" do you know of that are actually tiny and only capable of transactions in one state?   The first Google hit for "national bank" was this small bank called "National Bank" serving a dozen contiguous counties in southwest Virginia.  For small "international bank" types, I see that "United International Bank, L.L.C., a community bank" is referred to and seemingly only exists in Flushing, New York.

Perhaps we're thinking too small, though.   Just search for "universe LLC" to find several places that would be willing to cater to our entire billions-of-light-years-wide universe of customers, if only they'd show up.   I mean, it isn't like we can take our goods and services to them.  

Similarly, I rather doubt the Intergalactic Banking Clan is likely to be opening up a branch location in the Milky Way anytime soon.  Similarly, unless someone's gotten *very* lost and is floating along on a long-dead ship, I rather doubt they have any market penetration whatsoever in the satellite galaxies of the Galaxy Far, Far Away.

2000 Parsecs

In "Supply Lines"[TCW3], we get a bit of a prequel to the first season's Ryloth trilogy, as well as a prequel to the first regular episode "Ambush"[TCW1].   In it, we see the destruction of "the entire Outer Rim garrison", apparently based on Ryloth, and seemingly this must be early in the war.

(A little side note, but given that they kept Geonosis for a bit longer, a planet in the Outer Rim, they can't have lost the Outer Rim altogether.)

The Ryloth garrison was out of food, fuel, and ammunition, and the ships in orbit were similarly strained, shortly being destroyed altogether.    This leads to the following call for help from the Jedi Council to Bail Organa's ship, somewhere in hyperspace:
Kenobi: "Senator, the fleet protecting Ryloth has been destroyed and the supply lines have been cut. The troops are out of food, fuel, ammunition . . . and the civilian population is starving."
Organa: "That is grim news."
Windu: "Our blockade runners should be able to penetrate the Separatist lines and drop relief supplies. But, they do not have the range to reach Ryloth."
Kenobi: "The planet Toydaria is 2000 parsecs closer than the nearest fleet. If the blockade runners can supply from there, they might reach Ryloth in time."
There's a lot of interesting tech detail in this episode . . . such as the Republic fleet at Ryloth being out of fuel and ammunition also, the Admiral of the Republic fleet there losing his ship to the Separatists via a hit to the reactor and the subsequent shutdown of all systems, and so on.

But for the moment, let's focus on that distance.

The number of parsecs given was 2000 in reference to how much closer Toydaria was to Ryloth than the nearest fleet. That is about 6500 light-years.

Given the circuitous routes hyperdrive usage can require as seen with Malevolence, plus the fact that the Separatists would have seized the hyperspace lanes early on in the war (cutting off the Outer Rim from other support), the notion that this is a straight-line distance is an assumption only, and a poor one, at that.

Even if we assume it, though, it is still roughly consistent with a Republic/Empire as I have described.

For example, if you imagine a Roman civil war circa 115 CE with the fighting of interest happening in the boonies of Morocco and the Med seized by Separatists, it is not impossible to imagine that the nearest army that can intervene might be in Egypt or Turkey or Greece, rather than in Rome or even Spain.

In a wedge-shaped Republic, then, with Separatist worlds and hyperspace lanes cut off, 6500 light-years could represent any shape of route from almost any starting point.

Meanwhile, the inflationist view, of course, would be that the galaxy is huge, basically fully-covered by the Republic, and that 6500 light-years is mere hopscotch for hyperdrive. (And of course the whole episode occurred in minutes, and so on.)   Except that's silly, too, because then we're stuck with the peculiar value of one fleet (generally shown to be a mere handful of ships) per an area of 6500 light-years diameter. At EU galaxy sizes and if that was the norm, that would imply just 85 different little flotillas, or a few hundred ships. And, of course, there are severe range limitations indicated . . . the Republic fleet at Ryloth is out of fuel after getting there and fighting for some time, and the relief ships have some sort of severe range limitations when carrying food and medical supplies, limitations that seem to be alleviated if they fly empty and refuel at Toydaria.

In other words, we have a plausible and consistent notion versus one that leads to contradictions.

But still, we do have upward pressure in regards to hyperdrive velocities. Even at 20000c, you're only traveling 384 light-years per week. Thus, a 6500 light-year trip would take 17 weeks . . . that's four months. While not completely implausible given the suffering that supposedly occurs on Ryloth over an extended period, not to mention issues like Anakin and Obi-Wan being gone from Coruscant for months at a time on Outer Rim campaigns as per the RotS surprise-I'm-very-preggers conversation, it seems a stretch that it would've taken that long for Anakin's fleet to get there.

On the other hand, Anakin's relief fleet arrives after the Hutt hyperlanes become usable, meaning that Ryloth may no longer have been 6500 light-years distant at that time.

Either way, the 2000 parsecs don't really mean much to us without more data.


Flashlights Again

In case you hadn't noticed, one of my interests is flashlights and other lighting technology, and this is something that sci-fi usually gets very, very wrong.

In fairness, it's hard to get it right.  After all, unless you actually have uber-flashlights, then you have to engage in a lot of expensive fakery to make it look like you have them.  Well, really, that's only true in live-action scenarios . . . you'll note that in TCW, a CGI show, flashlights and weaponlights still suck.

What should sci-fi flashlights look like?

Well, this "tiny monster" would be a good start . . . handheld and 3500 lumens.   Of course, in the not-terribly-distant future, we would expect the whole thing to be truly pocket-size, or even a pen-light with that output.   (At some point they'll be regulating them.)

Bear in mind, though, that there are caveats.   Remember from my recent posts that sometimes we have to consider valid reasons for things not to be quite as awesome as we might expect?   Well, this is especially true of flashlights.  Just because a flashlight seems a little dim in certain scenarios doesn't mean it actually sucks.

For instance, if I'm breaking into your house and it's dark, I don't actually want to have a super-bright light on my weapon, because as soon as I hit a bright or reflective surface my capacity to see just went to crap because I've virtually flash-blinded myself.   And one must also consider that if for whatever reason the light goes out or is knocked away or something, I don't want to be completely blind . . . that is to say, if the ambient lighting is dim, I might only want a flashlight bright enough to allow a bit of extra visibility but not so much that everything's pitch dark to me as soon as my light goes away.

This is part of why some weaponlights feature diffuser attachments, too . . . the basic idea being that instead of a concentrated beam of light, you want to aim for more of an area light.  This is very good kit.   Consider the image from TCW 122 where the Senate's gone dark and an assassin droid and a Weequay are skulking about.   The image shows the droid's headlight on the left and the weaponlight of the Weequay on the right.

This is horrible.   Were it not for ambient light, it doesn't look like they could even see if someone was standing on the table with a gun.  And note how the weaponlight's beam center virtually whites out the wall?  That's not so good, either.   They'd have done a lot better to put panty-hose on their lights or something.

However, they are consistent with R2-D2's little searchlight from AotC when he was guarding Padme's room.   At least then we could suppose that he was aiming for a dim and conical light to avoid waking Padme by emitting THE SUN at her, but in this case we have no such excuse.

Star Trek has a ton of similar examples, some of which are equally inexcusable.  Some of the best lights come from Enterprise, actually, but even there with their big 1950's-looking metal flashlights we still don't see the output of something like the "tiny monster" even when it would be helpful.

Put simply, it's just a fact of science fiction, and indeed the rigors of television in general.   There's an awful lot of thought put into myriad details (such as the contents of that room, the color of the emergency lighting, et cetera), but often not as much as we, the fans, put into all the other details that don't get the same amount of thought.

(And with Star Wars now going with a unified canon where even short stories from Insider that aren't spell-checked are to be canon, this is only going to get worse.)


Smoking Pots and The Holy Grate

Just a quick note . . . I'm working on a full big long page on the topic, but in case you were not aware, there's "The Holy Grate" issue.  Basically, when Leia shoots the grate that leads down to the trash compactor on the Death Star in ANH, everyone in the universe just rolled with it . . . except inflationists, who have argued . . . and I kid you not . . . that the grate was cast iron because:

a.  It's black.
b.  Iron is common.
c.  It has an orange peel texture like cast iron.
d.  It was in a jail
e.  It's metallic because . . . uh . . . um . . . .SILENCE, INFIDEL!

There's a lot more to the Holy Grate arguments, but that'll do for the moment.  But, suffice it to say that they wank it out in every conceivable fashion in an effort to give Star Wars hand weapons greater firepower (in raw power and in effect) than Star Trek people-pooc'ers.  (Who cares?  It isn't like they're gonna hit anything with them anyway.)

So on to the quick note:

I wasn't there to witness it, but I'm told a PC under a desk started smoking and, within just a few seconds after the smell produced worry, a six-foot wide column of haze was created from floor to ceiling, leading to someone quickly unplugging things.  The fire department was even called, I'm told.

What was the cause?   Well, it seems a SATA power cable and an optical drive had some sort of disagreement.   Not to worry you, but if you have an even slightly recent computer, you have a SATA power cable in it.   I later got a chance to examine the PC and take some pictures.

That's the SATA power connector.   Bear in mind that the width of this thing is like an inch or so.  What seems to have happened . . . which per Googling is not as uncommon as one might wish . . . is that the assorted little skinny contacts for the 12v power somehow had an issue, whether due to the optical drive having a problem or just because the little wires are too skinny for the amperages available.

As you can see above, those little contacts are missing.  Below is the damage to the optical drive itself . . . deadly to the drive, but minimal, and there was no internal damage that could be seen:

It occurred to me just a few moments ago after seeing what oddball antics Brian Young was up to this week . . . yet another video on the Holy Grate entitled "Pots and Kettles" . . . that this event was a teachable moment for Vs. Debate purposes.

Note that the SATA connector is black.  Note also that plastic is common (and weight-saving, which we know to be important in Star Wars vessel construction).  Note also that the connector has a mottled texture.  And, note that  . . . aw crap, it wasn't in a jail.  Nevermind.   I concede that point.

Still, though, the inflationist religion requires us to believe that a bunch of Leia-wrist-thick bars were considered necessary to secure a hole leading to a trash compactor.  That's odd since we don't even make prison bars wrist-thick, but whatever.  And then there's the whole magic of how molten iron is supposed to cool enough in ten seconds not to ignite Chewbacca's hair, but whatever.

More importantly, a tiny pencil-eraser-width of vaporized and melted metal and plastic was sufficient to produce a column of hazy smoke six feet wide in real life . . . and the smoke produced by the grate was similar, lazily rising next to Han and no different than any of the other blaster hits that made big puffs of smoke against everything from people to cameras to walls.

Think about that . . . the inflationists would have you believe that the Holy Grate represents the vaporization of several liters of metal . . . and yet it produces no more smoke than maybe an entire milliliter of plastic.

Y'know, solids are solids because there's a helluva lot of stuff there.  Indeed, if you want to figure the expansion of a solid into a gas, you usually have to assume expansion of hundreds of times the prior volume, because solids . . . unlike gases . . . are dense stuff.   Dude, where the hell is all the stuff?    I mean, even 500 times the volume times "several liters" is, assuming seven liters like they claim elsewhere, at least 3500 liters.   That's 3.5 cubic meters (123 cubic feet) of gas to suddenly and explosively deal with.  

No, that's not "an area of smoke rising in the air" we're talking about.  This is a huge volume of extra air.  We would normally call this blast . . . where the hell is it?  We're talking about a sudden presence of an area of gas the size of Leia * Leia * Leia in length and width and height, in addition to the existing air.   I don't see it.  Do you?

Fear not, the inflationists have wished it away!   It all flies down the chute, silly-billy, even though we can just watch some of the smoke go lazily down the chute and it isn't thousands of liters worth.

There's also the fact that the top parts of the grate wobble when Han jumps through, which I would go so far as to say is a decidedly-un-wrist-thick-cast-iron thing to do.

I guess his foot must be made of neutronium.

Anyway, the way I figure, at best this thick grate was made of carbon, if we're gonna play the "black and common" game.  But really, I don't even think that's a logical necessity.  I'm perfectly content with it being any old thing . . . after all, it isn't like it really vaporized.  The bar fragments are clearly seen on a trajectory down the chute.

So, inflationists, make it whatever you like . . . I'm fond of hydrofoamed permacrete myself . . . just don't try to wank it anymore.  Much as I enjoy a good debate where I hold all the cards, I'd really love to not have to finish the big-ass page right now.   It does, after all, take time to do things properly, as someday I hope you guys find out.

In the Year 2889

For at least a decade I've been pointing out that the Vs. Debate has only a limited lifespan . . . or, as I put it elsewhere:
Another potential pitfall is that, even today, there are many elements of even the most recently-produced Trek and Wars which seem almost anachronistic . . . as if societies hundreds of years more advanced had suffered technological regressions somehow.  Of course, the truth is that there were often simply technological breakthroughs which were not known to the writers or else were ignored for "dramatic necessity".  However, for the most part we can simply assume that both Trek and Wars technological history would include Earth-level technologies of the present-day (though I rather doubt that this sort of rationale can be maintained with a straight face much beyond circa 2025).   Suffice it to say that in fifty years the Trek and Wars produced in the 20th Century will, for the most part, look as backwards to mankind as 30's-era Buck Rogers looks to us now.
But really, I'm not sure that's the best way of viewing the situation.

Consider the work attributed to Jules Verne called In the Year 2889.   It's a short story, so feel free to go read it . . . I'll wait.

 . . .

Right, so if you noticed, there are more than a few things that might seem entirely silly to us now.   The concept of a mean lifespan of 52 years is presented as a wondrous achievement, newspapers have been replaced since 2869 by people physically reading the news to them (and even then only that which is of interest) owing to the enormous development of telephony since 2789, solar power is only a couple of centuries old, and a large planet a ways beyond Neptune has had its orbit located.  Moreover, space travel seems entirely absent from the picture, as determination of whether there's life on the moon seems still to be a question and, moreover, ascertaining if there's any on the back side is completely challenging!

Some of these bits are insightful insofar as being predictors of future developments beyond 1889, when the work was written, but much of it had already happened a mere 100 years later, not 1000.

So if we take this story as the canon of this universe, what are we to do with such absurdities and evidence of slow development?

Well, we have to accept them, that's what.

So, let's say there's a prequel set in that universe in the year 2600 or so when, evidently, a lot of the high technology that had only been developed after 2689 or so wasn't around.

Sure, this was what might be called a "mature civilization", to borrow the inflationist phrase, but clearly we could not apply our modern technological understanding to it . . . they didn't have solar power, for crying out loud, and apparently don't know what's on the back side of the moon!   You can hardly assume that NASA can send a space probe there in your prequel story.

Put simply, we have a glimpse of the rules of the universe, as it has presented to us through its canon.

As soon as you start assuming extra things based on the development and culture of modern Earth, you move away from discussing that universe and into making up your own universe.

(And of course, here we dovetail into another recent post about the dangers of making up your own universe and calling it Star Wars, as our inflationist friends are so inclined to do.)

So, what to do with Star Trek and Star Wars now, when we know that even today some of what we see is so anachronistic?   Well, we have to accept them as they are, that's what.  

Sure, we can still work toward some rationale as to why a certain seeming failing could be a strength, and that's fine . . . I've referenced the whited-out model windows and carrying of padds to deliver reports as an example of eavesdropping-prevention, for instance . . . but there are certain things that scarcely make sense now, and will make even less sense in the not-too-distant future, and even the best inflationist-level mental gymnastics aren't going to allow you to divine a way to have them make sense.

Even now, for instance, snipers can use remarkable computer technology to assist in making their shots.  It wouldn't be surprising to see snipers using heavily computerized, almost self-aiming weapons in the future, and for this technology to eventually drop down to the normal troops.   It might take 200 years . . . it might take 20.  But either way, battle droids and stormtroopers that can't hit the broad side of a barn already don't make much sense, and will make even less soon enough.

Sure, we can try to make up things about jamming and other ECM that somehow prevent advanced systems from working, but it's obvious that the battle droids can still *see*, and see well enough to walk, so it isn't like we can claim they're blind.   They're just bad shots, as they themselves will admit.

Are we to ignore the bad aim in the canon, or simply accept that this is the world they live in (oh-OH-oh) and that those are the poorly-aiming hands they're given?

I think we have to do the latter.   Some prefer the former . . . especially inflationists if they think they can use it to wank out Star Wars.

Avoid that mentality . . . it's a disaster of illogic.



I've never understood why most inflationists have always sought to reject the existence of flak bursts in Star Wars.   Whenever I've brought it up they've flamed me, called me names, et cetera.  Perhaps the nicest thing they've said is that it is a "hasty generalization" on my part.  It was so rare that seeing it mentioned by an inflationist was itself cause for a thread at StarfleetJedi.

It's strange because some folks accepted them and rolled on.  Michael January, for instance, whose pages are contained in the Obsidian Order section of ST-v-SW.Net, notes that a turbolaser bolt is not a laser beam, because it "travels slower than light, is visible in a vacuum, even from the side, and can detonate in spectacular flak-bursts."

But for many, even getting them to accept the word "flak" was like pulling teeth.

I hadn't seen the topic come up much in a long while, but recently I've seen the topic come up again from inflationists like "Captain Seafort", along with implicit rejections of flak bursts by Brian Young in his Star Wars shield videos where no flak bursts are ever acknowledged . . . every flash is a shield interaction or hull strike.

It's always been strange to me because, other than the fact that it gives them the option of claiming shield interaction, invisible asteroid hits, and so on, rejecting flak bursts does so little for the inflationist cause that I just don't see why it's worth the embarrassment.

What embarrassment, you ask?   Well, it's the embarrassment of rejecting so many flak references from the canon.  Let's start with the scripts:

 A New Hope - Script 

        Luke adjusts his controls and breathes a sigh of relief. Flak
        bursts outside the cockpit window.
LUKE: I got a little cooked, but I'm okay.

        Red Leader flies through a heavy hail of flak.
RED LEADER: Luke, let me know when you're going in.

        The blurry Death Star surface races past the cockpit window as
        a big smile sweeps across Luke's face at the success of his
        run. Flak thunders on all sides of him. 

        The Death Star's surface sweeps past as Red Leader searches
        the sky for the Imperial fighters. Flak pounds at his ship.
RED LEADER: Keep up your visual scanning. With all this jamming,
they'll be on top of you before your scope can pick them up.

        Gold Five is a pilot in his early fifties with a very battered
        helmet that looks like it's been through many battles. He
        looks around to see if enemy ships are near. His fighter is
        buffeted by Imperial flak.

        Flak and laserbolts flash outside Luke's cockpit window.
WEDGE: (over headset) My scope shows the tower, but I can't see the
exhaust port! Are you sure the computer can hit it?

LUKE: Artoo, try and increase the power!
        Ignoring the bumpy ride, flak, and lasers, a beeping
        Artoo-Detoo struggles to increase the power, his dome turning
        from side to side. 

The Empire Strikes Back - Script

DACK: Luke, we've got a malfunction in fire control. I'll have to cut
in the auxiliary.
LUKE: Just hang on. Hang on, Dack. Get ready to fire that tow cable.
           Barely keeping his seat in the tumbling ship, Dack struggles
        to set up his harpoon gun.
           Luke swings his speeder around and heads toward an oncoming
        walker. Laser bolts and flak fill the air, creating a deadly
        obstacle course for the tiny craft.

           Luke's speeder and Rogue Two fly in formation, banking from
        right to left and flying above the erupting battlefield. Flak
        bursts all around them.
           Luke, glancing over, sees Rogue Two on his left. His ship
        shudders as flak bursts nearby.

           Desperately, Luke works the controls of his flak-buffeted
        ship. Suddenly, the speeder is rocked by a huge explosion.
        Luke struggles with the controls with a look of terror on his
        face. The speeder fills with smoke, and electrical sparks jump
        about the cockpit.
LUKE: (into comlink) Hobbie, I've been hit!

           Inside the cockpit, Chewie lets out a loud howl. Han checks
        as the ship is buffeted by exploding flak. He appears to be
        doing six things at once.
HAN: (harried) I saw them! I saw them!

           The Falcon races into the starry vastness, followed by the
        four Imperial TIE fighters and an Imperial Star Destroyer.
           Stars race by as flak bursts outside the Falcon's window.

           The ship shudders as flak explodes near the cockpit window.
        Threepio checks a tracking scope an the side control panel
        while Leia watches tensely out the window.
THREEPIO: Oh, thank goodness we're coming out of the asteroid field.

           Han corrects the angle of his ship.
HAN: Let's get out of here. Ready for light-speed? One...two...three!
           Han pulls back on the hyperspace throttle and -- nothing
        happens. Flak bursts continue to rock the ship.

           The Falcon banks, makes a steep, twisting turn. In the
        next moment it is racing toward the Star Destroyer, looking
        very small against the massive surface of the Imperial ship.
        As it moves across the surface of the Star Destroyer, the
        Falcon bobs and weaves to avoid the numerous flak bursts.
           The tiny Falcon heads directly for the Avenger's bridge.
        The Imperials stationed there are stunned to see the small
        spaceship racing low across the hull, headed directly at the
        huge windows of the bridge area. Alarms go off everywhere. The
        Destroyer's commander, Captain Needa, can scarcely believe his

           One of the cloud cars opens fire on the Falcon, its flak
        rocking the ship. Chewie barks his concern.
HAN: (into transmitter) No, I don't have a landing permit. I'm trying
to reach Lando Calrissian.
           More flak bursts outside the cockpit window and rattles the
        ship's interior. Leia looks worried.
HAN: (into transmitter) Whoa! Wait a minute! Let me explain.

           The hatch pops open with a hiss of pressure. Lando reaches
        out to help the battered warrior inside the ship.
           Flak bursts all around it as the Falcon banks away from the
        city. Leia and Chewie struggle with the controls.

LANDO: Punch it!
           The Wookiee shrugs and pulls back on the light-speed
        throttle. The sound of the ion engine changes...it is winding
        up. Faces are tense, expectant. But nothing happens, and the
        engine goes off. Chewie lets out a frustrated howl. The flak
        still violently rocks the ship.
LANDO: They told me they fixed it. I trusted them to fix it. It's not
my fault!

Revenge of the Sith - Script

PAN DOWN to reveal a REPUBLIC ATTACK CRUISER. Continue to PAN with the Cruiser as TWO JEDI STARFIGHTERS enter and head toward an enemy Battle Cruiser. TRUCK with the Jedi Fighters as they maneuver in unison, dodging flack and enemy laser fire. R2-D2 is on Anakin's ship. R4-P17 is on Obi-Wan's ship. A giant space battle is revealed as the tiny Jedi ships continue their assault in a synchronous ballet.
OBI-WAN bounces through the flack with a frown. His ship rocks violently.

OBI-WAN dives toward the surface of one of the larger TRADE FEDERATION BATTLESHIPS and is forced to fly through a maelstrom of laser flack. He skims the surface, followed by the DROID DROP FIGHTER, which is followed by ANAKIN.

ANAKIN swoops low and skims across a TRADE FEDERATION BATTLESHIP, dodging flack as ARTOO bounces along, trying to get out a sentence.

That's just the scripts, but they're also ignoring references in the novelizations . . . 

A New Hope - Novelization

Ch. 12:  "Blue Leader, this is Red Leader," he announced into his mike.  "We're starting our attack run. The exhaust port is located and marked. No flak, no enemy fighters up here-yet. Looks like we'll get at least one smooth run at it."

The Empire Strikes Back - Novelization

Ch. 5:   Luke saw the explosion of his squadron's first casualty as he looked from his cockpit window. Angrily, Luke fired his ship's guns at a walker, only to receive a hail of Imperial fire power that shook his speeder in a barrage of flak.
Ch. 5:  Explosions rocked Luke's ship, tossing it about violently in the enveloping flak. Through the window he could see another walker that appeared to be unaffected by the full fire power of the Rebel attack speeders. This lumbering machine now became Luke's target as he flew, moving in a descending arc. The walker was firing directly at him, creating a wall of laser bolts and flak.
Ch. 5:   Luke and Zev could see the destruction of the walker as they flew overhead, banking from right to left to avoid the flak bursting around them.
Ch. 6:   Chewbacca howled over the roar of the Falcon's engines. The ship was beginning to lurch with the buffeting flak blasted at it by the fighters.
 'I know, I know, I see them,' Han shouted. It was taking everything he had to maintain control of the ship.
Ch. 7:  Solo raced down to the ship's hold and began to work frantically on repairing the malfunctioning hyperdrive unit. It was all but impossible to carry out the delicate repair work necessary while the Falcon shook with each blast of flak from the fighters.
Ch. 10:  Solo concentrated intently on his flying. It was all he could do to avoid the barrage of flak bursts rocketing toward the Falcon from the Imperial ship. The freighter bobbed and weaved as Han, still heading directly for the Star Destroyer, steered to avoid the bolts.
No one on his tiny ship had the slightest idea what his plan might be.
Ch. 13:  The Millennium Falcon veered away from Cloud City and soared through the thick billowing cloud cover. Swerving to avoid the blinding flak from the TIE fighters, Princess Leia and the Wookiee pilot struggled to keep their ship skyborne.
Ch. 13:  'Ben,' he whispered in utter despair, 'why didn't you tell me?' Lando tried to adjust some controls, and Chewbacca leaped from his chair to race to the hold. Leia took Chewbacca's seat and helped Lando as they flew the Falcon through the exploding flak.

Return of the Jedi - Novelization

Ch. 8:  'You won't get a second chance at this, Admiral. Han will have that shield down - we've got to give him more time. Head for those Star Destroyers.'
Ackbar looked around him. A huge charge of flak rumbled the ship, painting a brief, waxen light over the window. Calrissian was right: there would be no second chance. It was now, or it was the end.
Ch. 8:  In the Millennium Falcon, Lando steered like a maniac through an obstacle course of the giant, floating Imperial Star Destroyers -trading laser bolts with them, dodging flak, outracing TIE fighters.

Revenge of the Sith - Novelization

Ch. 1:   Antifighter flak flashed on all sides. Even louder than the clatter  of shrapnel and the snarl of his sublight drives, his cockpit hummed  and  rang with near hits from the turbolaser fire of the capital ships crowding  space around him. Sometimes his whirling spinning dive through the cloud of battle skimmed bursts so closely that the energy-scatter would slam his starfighter hard enough to bounce his head off the supports of his pilot's chair.
Right now Obi-Wan Kenobi envied the clones: at least they had helmets.
"Arfour," he said on internal comm, "can't you do something with the inertials?"
The droid ganged into the socket  on his starflghter's left wing whistled something that sounded suspiciously like a human apology. Obi-Wan's frown deepened. R4-P17  had  been spending too much time with Anakin's eccentric astromech; it was picking up R2-D2's bad habits.
New bursts of flak bracketed his path.  He reached into the Force, feeling for a safe channel through the swarms of shrapnel and sizzling  nets of particle beams.
Ch. 1:  Obi-Wan's starfighter streaked along the curve of the Separatist cruiser's dorsal hull. Antifighter flak burst on all sides as the cruiser's guns tried to pick him up.
Ch. 1:  They flashed through the battle, dodging flak and turbolaser bolts, slipping around cruisers to eclipse themselves from the sensors of droid fighters. They were only a few dozen kilometers from the command cruiser when a pair of tri-fighters whipped across their path, firing on the deflection.
Ch. 3:  Anakin slid along the bank of chairs on one side of the immense situation table that dominated the center of the General's Quarters' main room; Obi-Wan mirrored him on the opposite side.  Silent lightning flashed and flared: the room's sole illumination came from the huge curving view wall at its far end, a storm of turbolaser blasts and flak bursts and the miniature supernovae that were the deaths of entire ships.
Now, you might've noticed those little numbers after the headings.   Those are counters for my ease.   From the scripts we have 24 examples.   From the novelizations we have 17.

That's 41 descriptions of flak in the canon (or flack from cannons, whatever).   Now, not all of these are from space battles, but the vast majority are.

And that's not even talking about the flak in The Clone Wars, such as in "Landing at Point Rain" where a Jedi notes that the flak during their landing attempt is too heavy.   Even if it was an inflationist who couldn't read, at least having flak described audibly should've been a wake-up call.

And there's also the new canon's first entry "Blade Squadron" in which, in issue 150 on p. 34,  the Devastator is said to have a defensive "flak envelope", which sounds very much like what we saw at times on the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica in the form of a veritable shaped shield of explosion and debris surrounding a ship at a standoff distance from its hull.

Put simply, I don't think the existence of flak is even a debatable topic in regards to Star Wars.

=== Flak: Bolt Detonation ===

So, flak exists one way or another.   But, the nature of the flak is often disputed.  Even when I've successfully twisted proverbial arms before to get folks to acknowledge that flak exists in Star Wars, they'll usually try to evade with a claim of special flak guns or something rather than accepting that the bolts can detonate, as obviated by the "laser flack" above and a number of visual references.  I'll never understand that  . . . we can watch it happen throughout the films and TCW, but they insist there are invisible things being hit.

Of course, these invisible things are also being vaporized, they claim, which is why they're invisible after being hit.  Their invisibility beforehand?  Oh, um, well, that's simply to be ignored, or else they'll flame you.

 Note that bolt detonation is a very specific thing . . . this is actually where we see a bolt explode without apparent contact.

Only some of the references above point specifically to bolts exploding into flak.  Others could be construed (or misconstrued) as suggesting flak is a separate weapon altogether.

But, when we actually see bolts blow up . . . why even act like there's a separate flak gun?  Where are these special flak guns?    I don't think there's any evidence of them.  Be it the cruiser's guns trying to track Obi-Wan's fighter or the TIE fighter guns causing flak bursts around the Falcon, there is no indication, and certainly not in that latter case, of additional weaponry.   Good lord, where would you even hide a worthwhile flak cannon on a TIE?

Put simply, I don't think we need them.  Regarding the visual media, we have instances of turbolaser/blaster bolts exploding in mid-flight, usually creating a big flash or other explosion-y effect.  Similarly, the high-atmosphere combat in RotS and most battles in TCW feature a number of smoky-looking explosions, so smoke is no indicator.

===Flak: Dude, Where's My Bolt?===

Now, it is notable that there are a number of occasions where there is no visible bolt to associate to an explosion.   For instance, the flak bursts used against the escape pods in "Ambush"[TCW1] don't always seem to relate to bolts, though they are generally near them.   However, when the battlecruisers are firing on the Republic frigate, almost every space explosion observed (save for some very distant flashes) is tied to a bolt in some way.

(I have a lot more detail on this on the NoLettersHome wiki, but since it's not public yet we'll save all that for later.)

Even when we don't see a bolt, however, that simply does not mean one was not there.   Even in TCW, which being a CGI series really doesn't have any need to skimp on the bolts flying about, we have instances where smaller shots are simply invisible at even minor ranges of a handful of kilometers or less.   Take, for instance, "Downfall of a Droid"[TCW1] in which the battle between the fleets only seems to feature the two biggest forward-facing guns of the Separatist battlecruisers being fired.  And yet, when we zoom in on the Republic fighters, the sky is lousy with small fighter-killing bolts . . . one even hits Anakin's fighter and bounces off.

Surely we are not expected to believe that Anakin's fighter miniaturized and shrugged off the massive bolts of a battlecruiser!   So where are these bolts in the even-slightly-wider shots?   Well, we can't see them.

Still, this concept of a separate origin for at least some flak explosions (other than the "laser flack" variety) seems to also have some basis in the text references above, and even with the text referring to "shrapnel".   While we can presume this term could be re-applied to energy effects (a la the "energy scatter" note), that's a bit messy without more proof.

This is not to suggest that it is always separate, as some have, but that sometimes, seemingly especially in reference to anti-fighter flak, there is a separate explosion-producing thing in use.  Indeed, just watching "Ambush"[TCW1], there are no flak bursts when the Separatist battlecruisers are firing on the Republic frigate or vice versa . . . the only flak bursts occur when the escape pods are being targeted, suggesting that it is the "anti-fighter flak" effect in use.

One tantalizing possibility comes from that episode, however . . . if one watches carefully, the close-ups of the turrets during the firing on the escape pods shows that the two-gun turrets generally fire in unison.   However, when we then observe Yoda's escape pod with bolts and explosions around it, the bolts are invariably alone.  

It is not inconceivable that the same guns could be used to fire bolts that detonate, like normal flak-bursting bolts, but that for whatever reason the bolts themselves lose their luminosity in transit . . . not a misfire, per se, but just a normal effect of some kind . . . perhaps a leak in the galvening or some other such phrasing.

This, I think, would be the best union of both arguments, one that could at least theoretically satisfy the anti-flak crowd.   In concert (if needed) with the fact of smaller bolts simply not being visible at even short ranges, I think the situation should be satisfactory to all.