Australian maths wizard takes on Star Wars – not sure who wins

I must admit I found this video from Simon Pampena, the Australian Government’s official Numeracy Ambassador, only mildly entertaining. That said it’s a great way to get some basic maths thinking across to the younger Star Wars fans out there.

The YouTube description tells us “Pampena shows us how George Lucas got his maths wrong using numbers!” – which begs the literacy question: Is there a way to get your maths wrong using words? Anyway, Pampena’s whole argument is based on estimates of the numbers of droids and starfighters in Star Wars in comparison to the droid naming scheme.

But that’s where he went wrong you see. I’m sure he thought of it as a novel and entertaining hook for a bit of maths education with Star Wars day fast approaching. Who wouldn’t? Then the Star Wars fans and geeks came out of the forests of Endor and into the YouTube comments to criticise not the maths but the Star Wars facts. Ah well, it made some people think. And that’s a win.

I should say I’m not really criticizing the Start Wars geeks here, just, perhaps, pointing to their lack of self-awareness. I couldn’t help going out and researching where the R2D2 name actually came from – which puts my geekiness in stark relief. Apparently the mythology has the name coming from Reel 2, Dialog track 2 – which is where the droid first speaks. The Star Wars Encyclopaedia puts it into a story line context saying it stands for Second Generation Robotic Droid Series-2.

More interestingly though in the current context – the original droid model was made by an Australian firm!

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