If you have no life, you may be aware of the heated debate surrounding the fact that Greedo shot first. Note that I said fact. In the 1977 theatrical edition of Star Wars , Han Solo shoots the bounty hunter Greedo in cold blood. In the 1997 Special Edition and all subsequent versions, Greedo shoots first and is immediately blown away by Han. The idea is that if a crusty drug smuggler preemptively shoots a hit man who’s obviously planning to kill him, he doesn’t seem like such a nice guy.
Some people took exception to this alteration. These people will tell you that it neuters the character of Han Solo and ruins a perfect homage to The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly . And we should be sensitive and respectful when we explain to them why they’re wrong, because sheltered individuals have difficulty coping with change.
My premise here is that Greedo shooting first actually enhances our appreciation for the character of Han Solo. That idea isn’t just valuable by virtue of being my opinion. It has objective, scientific merit. Many people assume that my good looks conceal a lack of intelligence, but in fact, I am quite scientifically literate and am skilled at applying real world physics to outlandish fictional scenarios, which is how I’m able to calculate that if Sean ever fathered a child, it would be born with Super Asperger’s, a neurosis so debilitating that anyone who touched the infant would be compelled to complain about the Star Wars Special Editions.
So I’m going to bring my scientific acumen to bear on the problem of Greedo shooting first. The pertinent data here are the speed of Greedo’s blaster bolt and Han’s reaction time.
I’ve found conflicting information about the composition of blaster bolts. The Essential Guide to Weapons and Technology says they’re plasma, while the Incredible Cross-Sections series says they’re lasers and that the visible bolt is an optical effect that follows behind the bolt, which travels too fast to be seen. I had to borrow these books from Sean, as my bookshelf is devoted entirely to men’s fitness magazines and the novels of McCarthy and Hemingway. I choose to assume that blasters fire laser bolts because it’s attested in novels like Labyrinth of Evil and Shadows of the Empire , which have been described to me by the nerds I sometimes allow to hang around me. That assumption also gives me a convenient figure for the velocity of the bolt, namely the speed of light.
I estimate the space between Han and Greedo is about two meters. The accuracy of this figure doesn’t matter a whole lot, because a half a meter or even a whole meter isn’t going to make much difference when we’re talking about relativistic velocities.