Glenn started by sharing that he loved how well The Mandalorian blended science fiction and western genres, as well as bringing elements from the Star Wars IP, to the show. Dennin concurred stating he loved the show. He observed the initial slow pacing of the show, realizing that it was a show of substance, not reliant on things blowing up. Along with a good plot, interesting characters, and locales, the show was seasoned with dry humor. Dennin also mentioned that for story that takes place in a galaxy far away, why do we always see the not-so-nice places, adding that no one lives anywhere nice, except in the prequels. Siepser agrees with Glenn that the adventuring aspect of the story brings a flair to the show.
The hero of the show, Mando, is both identified with an cultural group - Mandalorian - but also by his profession, bounty hunter. Glenn asks Dennin and Siepser to hypothesize what do bounty hunters need to be successful in their trade. Dennin jokingly interjects he has the hat.
Glenn states that the hunter has to have a tool in which to hunt his bounty. While here we have RFID chips and GPS, in Mando’s world, he has to have a way of tracking an individual across the galaxy.
The physics: Dennin states we have to have a way of tracking the signal. It’s not like the bounty has a chip and if they did, they would just have to extract said chip. Or, Mando would extract the chip, so other hunters could not continue to track his bounty. Tracking is a major power challenge because the bounty’s body would have to send out a signal that in turn would be strong enough to send across a great distance. There are critical challenges on the distance question, but from a molecular perspective, the DNA, unique protein structure, or resonance frequencies could be used to detect the individual. Siepser feels the way to go is with resonance frequencies because everyone’s biology is different. He refers to a Star Trek episode in which a race of bounty hunters used a similar technology. Dennin adds that Star Wars would have a communications network of galaxy towers.
Amban Sniper Rifle
Once the bounty is found, the hunter has to be able to acquire the individual. The hunter needs to have a weapon, because while the hunter might not want to kill his target, he is probably going to have to clear the path to said target. The Amban sniper rifle looks like similar to Earthling rifles and uses cartridges. The similarity ends there’s because Mando rifle has disintegration technology.
The physics: Dennin explains that the rifle’s resonance frequency has to be able to weaken momentarily every molecular bond in the individual’s body, so the atoms become unbound and disperse. Siepser explains how to deliver the energy from the cartridge to the dispersal of atoms. The size of shell presents an interesting challenge because of the amount of energy that would be required. He states that rather than an electromagnetic energy, the rifle expels a bolt. Maybe it is plasma that vibrates at the right rate that spreads evenly over the individual’s body to induce the vibrations to unbound the atoms. Dennin adds to Siepser theory that perhaps there’s a surface resonance taking place through special engineering of fiber optics to change the frequency between the surface (skin type) and the bulk (of the individual).
How do you transport the bounty once captured? Well, carbonite freezing. Glenn shares that he thinks Mando’s technology might be more of encasing a bounty in essentially a suspended stasis wrapped in carbonite. Dennin thinks that it is an effective method of containment.
The physics: Dennin states science has to address the danger of bursting the bounty’s cells. He loves Glenn’s idea of suspended animation and just the surface freezing of the bounty. Siepser reminds Glenn that Han Solo expressed that he was cold and there is the implication of cold with the appearance of mist. He said the way to keep cells from bursting, one needs to flash freeze, which would be difficult to get right. Instead, a suspended animation and cooled to preserve the body is the best way to go. Glenn adds that hibernation would slow the body’s metabolism and would ultimately cause the body to cool. He gives the example of a study about a “snooze button” in bear hibernation.
Payment for the bounty. Mando is paid in beskar which is, in turn, forged into armor. What exactly is beskar and its properties?
The physics: Dennin discusses the frequency range that results in reflection and defection properties of the beskar metal. Siepser thinks the beskar metal has some sort of amplifying or resonance that focuses the properties of the metal. In the show, there are electronics under the suit that probably generates a sort of shielding effect. Glenn adds that the metal enhances and modifies Mando’s abilities and strength.
Mando uses magnetic bombs that stick to anything and has a lot of fire power for a small device.
The physics: Dennin points out that a magnetic device would be his last choice given that many of the surfaces in the show are stone. He would be more apt to use the low-tech glue-based or sticky bombs instead. But then, how would Mando get a gluey bomb off his belt? Siepser assists by offering that perhaps Mando’s magnetic bombs have small plungers of goo that allow the bombs to stick to any surface. Glenn suggests suction cup and Dennin mentions Spider-Man’s “cool” micro-hairs that allow him to climb walls. Siepser offers up small spikes or hooks.
As for the explosive force of the magnetic bombs, Siepser states that explosives are more powerful than we realize. He references Mythbusters and their various experiments with explosives. Dennin asks if we are getting better with making explosives? Siepser says we are. He explains that stabilizing agents are more effectively balanced in explosives today.
Mini Rockets or The Whistling Birds
More gadgets! Glenn asks how close we are to creating mini rockets that launch from our Earthling wrists?
The physics: Siepser says we can make small rockets todays and given the technology in Star Wars, they probably have the knowledge to make tiny guidance systems to fit the mini rockets. Siepser adds that the rockets might contain a fast-acting poison, which Dennin and Glenn thought was a cool idea. Dennin shares the observation that science is effective with creating smaller and smaller technological gadgets. He figures the same can happen in the Star Wars universe.
Sometimes, a person needs a jetpack to get out of a tight situation, when walking isn’t efficient. Glenn quickly shares that just this year, a company created a successful vertical take-off with a jetpack, so Glenn believes we are getting close with this technology.
While flamethrowers are not a new weapon, Glenn asks his guests how can this weapon be made more compact (wrist-sized) and efficient?
The physics: Dennin expresses the challenge is getting something small and hot/sticky enough quickly. Siepser explains that propane can be used to melt roof tiles while the wartime flamethrower were filled with napalm. He thinks that the flame trooper that appears in the show wears a tank and has the napalm that is very dangerous, while Mando has a cool wrist version that gets people to go away.
In the last couple of minutes, Glenn asks both men their favorite gadget from the show. Dennin quickly expressed the floating cradle was his favorite and wished he had that with his children because it would have made his life much easier. For Siepser, the versatile robot, IG-11, was his favorite, while Glenn went for the flamethrower, because of how showy it is.
Glenn, Dennin, and Siepser deliver an engaging and entertaining discussion about the gadgets from The Mandalorian. They creatively mediate Earth-bound science of today with the fictional technology showcased in the show, effectively breaking down the barriers that science can create because of a lack of knowledge and understanding on the part of the viewer. The Mandalorian encourages learning through the exchange of respectful discussion amongst interested fans/science experts and proves the importance of stories and why they matter, and the connection they create between story and audience. In this case, the story of Mando and his gadgets inspire scientific speculation and a way to engage with the story from a different perspective.
The Mandalorian and His Many Gadgets panel has been uploaded to Comic-Con@Home’s YouTube channel and can be viewed here.