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"Every scientist worth his salt that I know of has read science fiction."
- Greg Bear

Death Star  
  The logical endpoint of a galactic empire.  

Whether you are looking at the development of the trireme, the warship or the bomber, one trend stands out - lets see just how big we can build one of these things.

The star ahead continued to brighten, its glow evidently coming from within. It assumed a circular outline. They drew steadily nearer. Gradually craters and mountains on the moon became visible. Yet there was something extremely odd about them. The craters were far too regular in outline, the mountains far too vertical, canyons and valleys impossibly straight and regularized. Nothing as capricious as volcanic action had formed those features.

"That's no moon," Kenobi breathed softly. "That's a space station."

"But it's too big to be a space station," Solo objected. "The size of it! It can't be artificial -- it can't!"

"I have a very strange feeling about this," was Luke's comment.

From Star Wars, by George Lucas.
Published by Del Rey in 1976
Additional resources -

Compare to the artificial planet of metal from Doc Smith's 1934 novel Triplanetary.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Star Wars
  More Ideas and Technology by George Lucas
  Tech news articles related to Star Wars
  Tech news articles related to works by George Lucas

Death Star-related news articles:
  - Sorry, No Death Star - Obama Administration

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