Neil deGrasse Tyson discusses "Star Wars" and the ability to blow up a planet

Spoiler: It can be done

Published January 6, 2015 4:49PM (EST)

Can a person blow up a planet as depicted in "Star Wars"? That was a question posed to Neil deGrasse Tyson on his podcast "StarTalk Radio."

To wrap up "StarTalk's" fifth season, Tyson compiled a few "Time Capsule" episodes, which capture the best of "StarTalk." In "Season 5 Time Capsule (Part 2)," Tyson reexamines fan favorite questions from the previous season; the questions range from "what is gravity?" to queries about time travel.

One of the best questions and responses (as pointed out by Raw Story) was posed to Tyson and comedian Eugene Mirman: "In the movie "Star Wars," we see the Death Star blow up the planet Alderaan. Setting aside the question of how a thing would be possible, what would happen to our solar system if the Empire blew up, say, Mars?"

Tyson's response (which can be heard at the 34-minute mark) explains both how to blow up a planet ("physics 102"), and what would happen to our planet if Mars were blown to smithereens (we'd lose the Curiosity Rover).

"Now you have a device that can pump that energy into your planet and have that planet absorb the energy, rather than have the energy come out the other side, it will completely destroy the planet to smithereens, entirely," Tyson said. "So, that’s how one would go about it."

Listen to the entire episode, which features everyone from Colin Jost to Bill Nye, below or at StarTalk:

By Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email

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Blow-up Neil Degrasse Tyson Planet Science Space Star Wars Startalk Video