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Feb 21 2013

# Starbucks on the Death Star

Why I love the Internet: I thought to myself, they often talk about overseas military bases as being places where a lot of famous chains come and claim territory (the obligatory McDonald’s in Baghdad or what have you), and presumably Starbucks would be one of those chains. So if the United States really did ever build a Death Star as so many folks wanted, how many Starbucks would it have?

Then I thought, this is the Internet. Someone will find out for me. So I took to Quora and asked. Here’s the best answer so far, from  Tom Vaughan:

Quick back-of-the-napkin math here…

The Death Star is probably going to be a pretty densely populated place; perhaps comparable to Manhattan. According to an article I found on Slate, there are about 400 Starbucks on the island of Manhattan which is essentially a 2-dimensional plane about 87 square kilometers. That equates to about 4.6 Starbucks per km^2

There seems to be some debate amongst Star Wars fans about the size of the 1st Death Star and the 2nd Death Star (read this for a facepalm: Death Star II ) but let’s use 200km wide as the size of the second Death Star (from the Return of the Jedi movie).

I forgot the calculus to do this “the right way”, so what I’ll do is pretend the Death Star is a cube (width^3) and figure out how many 2D “floors” it has on which Starbucks would exist, and then account for the fact that it’s actually a sphere (4/3 * pi * r^3), where r = 100km.

Assume the average deck of the Death Star is… say… 10m high ? Then a 200km high Death Star has 20,000 floors. Each floor is 200km^2 which, using Manhattan density, is 184,000 Starbucks per floor. If it were a perfect cube and all 20,000 floors had 184,000 Starbucks, the whole thing would have 3.68 Billion Starbucks.

Let’s shave off the edges and make it a sphere and I think we just divide our Starbucks by the same ratio as (200^3) :: (4/3 * pi * 100^3). That ratio is about .52, so I think you’re looking at around 1.9 Billion Starbucks in the Death Star.

Looking at that 1.9 Billion number, I realize I may have made some false assumptions about the relative density of the people in the Death Star, or I may have just misjudged just how damn big a 200km sphere is my whole life.

We can make some assumptions about the volume of Tie Fighter docking bays, shield generators, planet-destroying weapons systems, etc. where it wouldn’t necessarily make sense to have a Starbucks but if there’s one thing we’ve discovered on Earth, it’s where there’s an opening, someone _will_ build a Starbucks there.

Thank you.

1. 1
##### Marcus Ranum

Remember, at that scale for all intents and purposes a TIE fighter is round and so is a stormtrooper.

2. 2
##### Robert B.

Hahaha, well, Manhattan has one Starbucks per 6000 people, which would put the human population of the Death Star at twelve trillion. And I hope all those Starbucks have plenty of muffins and whatnot, because that population would need twenty-four petagrams of food every single day.

3. 3
##### lochaber

hahaha. fairly amusing.

Although, I’d probably try and base the inhabitable area of of something like the skeleton maintenance staff of the CERN large hadron collider, the skeleton crew staffing of a (really large) aircraft carrier, or maybe the staffing of the ISS rather then manhattan.

Also, I imagine that some of the abundance of starbucks in cities is due to competition- I don’t think you will find a starbucks anywhere you have a population of ~6K people. I think in this case, the military base analogy would be a good model, since there wouldn’t be the same competition on a restricted access military base as you would have on a similarly populated area.

But, that’s also assuming the… empire?(I’m not well-versed in starwars lore…) is capitalistic, but since they are evil, and the movie was produced in the U.S., wouldn’t they have to be communist? or something…

But, this would be a great topic for a nerd bar-argument. :)

4. 4
##### Aliasalpha

The entry on wookieepedia (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Death_Star#Description) says DS1 was 160km in diameter, DS2 was 900km, much of it was heavy industrial stuff like cargo bays, reactors and superlaser components so probably not many Starbucks’ (Starbuckses, Starbucksi?) there. It was divided into 24 sections, seemingly each would have residential zones which is likely where the Starbucks’ would be located. The crew complement of DS1 is supposed to be something around 1.2 million people so if the 6000:1 ratio holds true everywhere, it’d be around 200 Starbucks but I’d expect more because of dispersed population.

Why yes, I am a nerd, however did you guess?

5. 5
##### M, Supreme Anarch of the Queer Illuminati

A decent comparison of population density between the Death Star and Manhattan would really have to start by calculating the population of Manhattan per unit volume. Because I suspect that usable ground/floor/street/tunnel area in Manhattan is sufficiently greater than land area that assuming 10m between-floor distance for the Death Star doesn’t lead to equivalent population density.

Besides, the interior spaces of the Death Star that we see are mostly big, cavernous rooms, industrial machinery, etc., and mostly sparsely populated. Less Manhattan, more suburban.

Of course, one will also have to take into account the biological flexibility of loosely-written fiction; the population of the Death Star is less susceptible to sociology than to the forces of plot and narrative convenience. Why, the impending arrival of the Emperor can lead to a 473% increase in the stormtrooper reproduction rate in order to prepare a suitably dramatic welcoming committee…

6. 6
##### StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

Now how many Starbucks will there be in Battlestar Galactica?

(Hint – at least one – the character! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lieutenant_Starbuck )

:)