The Star Wars universe has several major unexplained technologies and quite a few that only appear in a few expanded-universe sources. For the purposes of the Star Wars game, quite a few of those are probably going to be non-canon – but it’s best to know at least a bit about how the rest are supposed to work: it makes it so much easier to answer questions about what can be done with them and what their limitations are.
This time around, I’m going to cover three of the basic technologies – Monopolium, Power Sources, and Dark Energy Manipulation.
Monopolium is actually relatively simple: it’s matter in some or all of the electrons have been replaced by magnetic monopoles: as the monopole moves, it generates an electrical field – and thus, despite having no charge, a monopole can replace an electron and occupy an orbital of it’s own very near an atomic nucleus. In fact, the orbital is so near, and so tightly bound, that the binding energy is an enormous fraction of the monopole’s rest mass. It also will not invoke the Pauli Exclusion Principal with electrons.
The result is a smaller, somewhat more dense, and far more stable atom with modified chemical and electrical properties and – since the interaction distances are far smaller – with extremely high molecular bonding energies, resulting in extraordinarily tough materials.
Unfortunately, the generation of Monopoles requires extraordinary energies, massive equipment, and is horribly expensive. Still, small amounts of Monopolium underlie many of the technological feats of the Star Wars universe.
Now, this isn’t entirely fantasy: while most theories that predict monopoles say that they’re going to be too massive for this sort of thing to be practical, no one’s actually seen one – and Star Wars physics doesn’t have to be entirely realistic.
“Power Cells” are simply high-voltage, high-capacity, and low-leakage capacitors – a technology made possibly by exploiting thin films of high-quality monopolium – which, with it’s massive internal magnetic field and lack of electrons makes a near-perfect insulator.
Most local power systems use variants on the Polywell or Bussard Fusor systems. While practical power generation systems are too bulky for most hand-held devices – although you can carry them in a pack easily enough – most vehicles, portable power systems, welding and cutting gear, and similar items all run on fusion power.
“Hypermatter” systems involve Dark Energy Manipulation – essentially the exploitation of the Cosmological Constant.
Dark Energy Manipulation underlies several of Star War’s more exotic technologies. In this case, it’s relatively simple: it’s been known for thousands of years that, when high-energy photons are projected through properly-structured transparent matter (which normally means high-quality crystals) an electronuclear interaction occurs: the interaction of the cosmological repulsive force with normal matter is either greatly enhanced or diminished within a modest distance beyond the crystals used; which effect occurs depends on the modulation and structure of the crystals being employed, the total volume affected depends on the net energy of the photon beam, the shape depends on the focus of the beam, and the strength of the effect depends on the frequency of the photons being used. Since the reaction forces are exerted against the dark energy field, there is no kickback against the generator. Secondarily, since most of the energy comes from the cosmological constant, you get more power out than you put in – even if most of it is in unusable forms.
If he interaction is enhanced, the area affected repels any matter that enters it. If suppressed, the area draws in any matter that contacts it.
Using repulsive fields, at relatively low power this effect is used for repulsorlift technologies.
At midrange power levels, you get sublight drives – and if you project the field through the ship, it partially compensates for inertial problems by accelerating every atom within the area at once – although it takes very careful tuning to keep this balanced at the high end.
At high power levels, molecules within the field tear themselves apart – and you start getting pair-production and luminescence at the fringes of the field. The effect is even more spectacular in atmosphere, where recombining molecules create microshockwaves (heard as a humming or crackling sound) and additional light. This is the basic effect underlying Lightsabers – which seem solid to each other since the fields interact with and repel each other. Since the “blade” is a modified area of space however, and it’s disruptive effect is reactionless, Lightsabers can be easily driven into even the toughest materials – although such materials may resist for some time.
At very high power levels atomic nuclei tear themselves apart, breaking down and releasing massive amounts of energy – however this effect is a bit too uncontrollable for small-scale use; it does make a marvelous way to power massive military systems however, in which application it is known as a “hypermatter system” – and can recycle it’s fuel by feeding the stripped nucleons into a fusion reactor, although this loses more and more of it to neutrons as you recycle mass. It’s also the effect which underlies the Death Star’s beam; the Death Star does require a massive power input, but the energy that tears planets apart comes from the dark energy potential of the area affected, not from the Death Star itself.
As far as attractive fields go:
Low-power attractive fields are used for artificial gravity effects.
Mid-power attractive field are used for tractor beams, and to disrupt “hyperspace travel”.
High power levels are used for molecular-compaction systems and microfusion warheads – wherein they induce a momentary compression-pulse sufficient to induce a very small fusion reaction, an effect which lies at the core of Thermal Detonators.
Very high power levels are used in condensed-matter and monopole production systems, but are – once again – far too clumsy for use in anything below a massive system.
Some effects are used in combination: Shields are generated by a simple radius-broadcast system: one strong repulsive system with a slightly longer range and one attractive one with a slightly smaller range but equal power. Within the radius of the attractive effect, the two fields cancel each other act. Just beyond it, you get a powerful repulsive “shell” or “shield”. Shields are effective against particle beams and physical weapons, not against lasers – as is clearly obvious by the fact that you can see through them.
A combination of repulsive and attractive fields (to generate and shape a massive pulse of high-energy particles without recoil – and yet still carrying a potentially massive impact) is also used in “blasters” and “ion cannons”. Since such devices are mostly powered by Dark Energy, they are more powerful, and can fire for much longer, than laser weapons. However, since lasers are unaffected by shields, they are often preferred for ship-to-ship confrontations. Shields are visible, however, thanks to low-powered molecular disruptions. Touch one, it will disrupt the surface molecules of your hand and repel you by throwing some of them back at you – providing the shock/burn effect.
As a side-note, at High and Very High power levels, the crystals used in the generation systems are under tremendous stress and must be near-flawless. This requires either that they be constructed using large amounts of monopolium (and thus be massively heavy), that they only be needed to function for a brief period before self-destructing, or that they be lightly reinforced with monopolium (which makes growing such crystals a task for force-manipulation) and repaired on the fly when flaws develop. That requires a certain amount of force-infusion. The weapon needs to be a good match with the mind of the user to allow the users energies to repair flaws as they occur. This results in the occasional “flicker” and “sparks” seen in lightsabers; such symptoms appear when a crystal has started to flaw and has been repaired. Non-force sensitives cannot effectively use a lightsaber for very long without it losing power and eventually burning out – which is why you don’t find troops using the things to penetrate blockhouses and blast doors and such.
That’s also why they each tend to be a somewhat unique design, with materials chosen that seem to “fit” as far as the user is concerned and why a relatives old lightsaber works better for a trainee than one from a stranger; the pattern is more compatible. Still, it’s best to build your own. Growing your own crystals – tuned to your force powers from the beginning – is the very best way to make them though. A careful study of a lightsaber can tell you quite a bit about the crafter – and the same crystal-modifying technique is used to create holochron crystals