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Posted at 12:35 PM ET, 01/12/2013

We the people want a Death Star


While not on the Death Star in this scene from "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980), Darth Vader would no doubt support a petition to build such a planet-obliterating weapon. (AP)

The Obama administration just tried to pull an Obi-Wan Kenobi on the American people.

This is not the petition response you’re looking for,” writes Paul Shawcross of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Shawcross, who heads the Science and Space branch of OMB, gave a digital wave of his hand to a petition that the government begin construction of a Death Star by 2016. The petition, signed by more than 34,000 supporters, was rejected for three key reasons, according to Shawcross: The estimated cost would be in the neighborhood of $850 quadrillion dollars; the Obama administration is against blowing up planets; and the construction of a planet-obliterating weapon with a fundamental flaw — it “can be exploited by a one-man starship,” after all — isn’t something officials would want to “spend countless taxpayer dollars on.”

Let’s take on each of these reasons, shall we?

First, the estimated cost is, exactly that, an estimate. And aren’t some people considering the minting of a platinum coin to pay off the national debt? Why not mint a Death Star coin?

Second, the administration’s current lack of support for planetary destruction fails to take into consideration that a mutually assured destruction scenario may present itself in the future. What if the world came under threat from an alien race armed with its own Death Star? Honestly, why not plan ahead?

Finally, there is nothing in the petition that says America’s Death Star would have the flaws of the previous Death Stars depicted in “Star Wars: A New Hope” and “Return of the Jedi.” As Shawcross highlights with his list of real NASA accomplishments, our scientific community is smart. They can figure it out.

Okay, all joking aside, building a Death Star is probably not the greatest use of the world’s, or the country’s, resources. Now, let’s see what the administration’s response is to a petition to make online access to scientific journals free for articles that result from government-funded research.

Kolawole is the editor of Ideas@Innovations.

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