Unicode makes R2D2 work.

And maybe it is possible to make the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs.

It used to bother me that R2D2 was an R2 unit and therefore only the D2 part of his name is variable and different for each droid, leaving just 260 possible R2 unit names. Now I’m not so sure.

Back in the old days, we used the ASCII character set with 127 characters, some of which are just control characters and can’t really be used in normal text. As computers moved outside the US (Not that they started there, but that’s another story) we needed to print text in different languages. Early ideas like code pages forced computers to only work in one language, though it was up to the owner to choose which language.

Then along came Unicode with over a million possible symbols, it can hold all of the worlds alphabets, and more. Klingon was rejected from Unicode in 2001, but Tolkien’s Elvish language is currently there, albeit unofficially.

But that’s only in this little corner of this galaxy. In a galaxy far far away, the planetary systems are all a few minutes travel away from each other – especially in a ship that can make the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs*. With all of those planets and all of the people on them, there must be a huge number of languages in use. C3PO says he’s fluent in over 6 million forms of communication.

Lets imagine that 10% of the languages spoken by C3PO have different alphabets. I don’t know if that’s a realistic estimate, but I know most of Europe on earth use the same alphabet, but not all of Europe, so it’s a guess based on the fact that some languages share one and some don’t. Now lets assume that 26 letters is about average for an alphabet.  That means there are 15,600,000 letters required. Unicode isn’t big enough, but If they have the technology to make light sabres, they probably have the technology to stick a few million characters in their equivalent of Unicode.

So they could go from R2A0 to R2?9, where ? could be any one of 15,600,000 characters. Which means they aren’t limited to just 260 R2 units, but could actually make 156 million before running out of names. I feel sorry for the ones that get the equivalent letter to our U+1F4A9 though.

 

* The statement about making the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs isn’t as bad as it first seems. My first thought was that parsecs are a distance measurement and surely he should be using a time measurement to boast about how fast the Millennium Falcon** is. But there is a phenomena called Lorentz contraction, which makes distances contract when travelling at a substantial fraction of the speed of light. Therefore, if the Kessel run is much more than 12 parsecs. Going fast would make the apparent distance smaller and presumably, if you go really, really, impressively fast, the Kessel run will appear less than 12 parsecs.

** Apparently, this all takes place in a galaxy where the only common lifeforms between there and The Earth are Humans and Falcons.

One Reply to “Unicode makes R2D2 work.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *