Star Wars tech: close to reality or just real cool?

Our weekly roundup of interesting stories online including Star Wars technologies and their real-world counterparts, and the tech skills employers are looking for in new hires.

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Star Wars tech

Is it possible to make a real light saber? Can a Death Star actually blow up a planet?

These are just some of the questions that I found myself thinking about in anticipation of the latest Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens. Are all those cool weapons and technology possible, or just plain fantasy?

As it turns out, there are a number of sites that have already looked into this.

Take this YouTube video: Nerding out on Star Wars science. According to the video, that mega laser weapon used to blast the planet Alderaan is more likely to melt the Death Star itself because of the heat needed to generate such power.

Now laser swords, they’re feasible. The key is to be able to control the plasma. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are already experimenting with something similar using gamma rays.

What about force fields? Aerospace company Boeing actually holds a patent on using lasers to produce some sort of force field.

According to, it may be possible to zoom back and forth through galaxies, just as Han Solo does in his Millennium Falcon (the movie is hazy about hyperdrives and faster-than-light travel.)

It may be impossible to travel faster than the speed of light, but decades ago Albert Einstein suggested that space could be distorted to shorten the distance between two points.

Too close for comfort

Researchers from the University of Toronto, who are working on an interactive database of Internet traffic routes, warn that Canada’s Internet infrastructure is “intimately linked to U.S. databases” — and this could be a bad thing.

Each time Canadians log on to U.S.-based sites like Facebook, Google, YouTube or Amazon, we are inadvertently exposing our private and sensitive information such as financial and health records, political affiliations and religious beliefs.

Andrew Clement, professor at U of T’s Faculty of Information, says Internet users need to be fully informed about what is happening to their personal data in order to make smart choices.

The best of expertIP

The 11 tech skills that could get you hired in Toronto

Are you eyeing a new IT job in 2016? Check out the research conducted by LinkedIn and the Toronto-based coalition of civic leaders, CivicAction.

Using data culled from LinkedIn’s 1.9 million members in the GTA, the report hashed out the most likely tech skills that employers are looking for in new hires. These findings give you a pretty good idea if your skill sets are up to snuff or if they need some spiffing up.

While there appears to be a glut of tech skills in Toronto, demand remains high among non- traditional IT firms. And, one in 10 GTA companies (that’s around 11,000 firms) look for early-career technology skills.

What are the tech skills that companies in the GTA are looking for in new hires? The top three are mobile development, game development and Perl/Python/Ruby skills.

Image courtesy of Free Digital Photos

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