Tech UPTechnologyStar Wars: Could the 'Force' Really Exist?

Star Wars: Could the 'Force' Really Exist?

The Force “surrounds us and penetrates us, unites the galaxy,” Obi-Wan Kenobi said to Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars movie.

Today’s physicists know that there are actually four fundamental forces: the two nuclear forces, the electromagnetic force and the gravitational force. All of them play a key role in the union of matter , from the smallest of atoms to the largest of planets.

However, it seems that these forces are not what we are looking for. Old Ben Kenobi, Yoda, and finally Luke, could communicate telepathically over great distances and move objects with their minds thanks to the power of the Force. Is this possible? What do the laws of physics say about this?

The Physics of Force


For starters,
Einstein’s theory of relativity places strict limits on how fast we can communicate : the maximum speed limit is the speed of light. So if we need to send a message to Alderaan to warn the citizens of an Imperial attack, there will always be a delay. We couldn’t warn you in time for an evacuation because it takes time for light to travel to get the message across.

Obi-Wan Kenobi couldn’t have sensed a disturbance in the Force just moments after the Death Star destroyed Alderaan. Or if? What does quantum physics say about information transferred over long distances?

Unfortunately we cannot break Einstein’s speed limit, even if we own the Millennium Falcon. However, through a trick of quantum mechanics, you can join two particles in a special way, separate them, and then observe the effects of one on the other at great distances. This is what is known as quantum entanglement , placing two objects in the same entangled quantum state. And modern physics experiments with light particles have shown that entanglement is real: particles can be connected over great distances.

As a curiosity, at the time when George Lucas was writing the original Star Wars script (late 1960s, early 1970s), scientists proposed that quantum entanglement was a “force” that united us all.

This led to the idea that we are all linked in some way, and that there really is a connection between every living thing in the galaxy. But … there is a catch. The effects of quantum entanglement tend to be very small for everyday objects. Unless we enter the field of superconductivity.


These new phenomena, like a superconductor floating on a magnet in the Meissner effect, come from macroscopic quantum entanglements of electrons or from a terrifying “force” acting over great distances. The “Force” of quantum entanglement really awakens in these new “quantum materials”.

Therefore, we could conclude that there is some truth in the idea behind “The Force”, from a certain point of view.

Quantum entanglement plays a fundamental role in modern physics and is a binding principle for matter and energy. However, large-scale quantum entanglement is difficult to achieve, and it is even more difficult to observe in living creatures.

Reference: Quantum entanglement in photosynthetic light-harvesting complexes. Nature Physics 6, 462–467 (2010)

Image credit: Lucasfilm

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