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Let's face it: Funding a Death Star would push the federal budget off the fiscal cliff and into a fiscal Death Valley.
The 25,000-plus signers of a "We the People" petition calling on the federal government to start building a Death Star by 2016 must be feeling as peppy as the Rebel Alliance, now that they've put their plea over the threshold that will trigger a response from the White House.
Campaigns on 4chan, Reddit and Twitter helped put it over the top with a day to spare. This means someone at the White House will have to take a good look at the Death Star issue and draw up a response (unless officials decide it would be improper to speak out on something that's more appropriately addressed by, say, the Defense Department, NASA or Lord Vader).
The rationale for securing the funding and resources to start construction was laid out in the petition, created on Nov. 14 by John D. of Longmont, Colo: "By focusing our defense resources into a space-superiority platform and weapon system such as a Death Star, the government can spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense."
Building the kind of moon-sized Death Star portrayed in the "Star Wars" saga would be a heck of a stimulus program, however. Earlier this year, Centives calculated the cost of the steel alone at $852 quadrillion, or roughly 13,000 times the world's gross domestic product. At the current rate of production, it would take more than 833,000 years to produce enough steel to begin work.
I'm afraid the White House's political deflector shield will be quite operational when that petition arrives.
Administration officials have had a lot of practice dealing with "We the People" petitions that address far-out topics like the Death Star: Last year, for instance, two petitions calling for full disclosure on extraterrestrial visitations reached the standard requiring a response, and the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy rose to the challenge.
"The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race," OSTP's Phil Larson reported on the WhiteHouse.gov website. "In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public’s eye."
I'm hoping that the Death Star petition will provide an opportunity for Larson and his colleagues to come up with a pithier, more creative response ... maybe something that will satisfy the fanboys. Here are a few examples that have popped up over the past few days:
- "The farce is strong in this one." (Commenter on The Ticket)
- "We find its lack of signatures disturbing" (MSNBC's Ed Schultz)
- "We have a bad feeling about this" (Modern Man)
Which "Star Wars" cliches would be most fitting for the task? Try to think of some suggestions you can leave in the comment space below. On second thought, try not. Do, or do not. There is no "try."
More on the Death Star and other petitions:
- White House petitions range from serious to silly
- How the online petition program got started
- Management lesson: Don't rebuild the Death Star
- How much would the Death Star cost?
Alan Boyle is NBCNews.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the log's Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence. To keep up with Cosmic Log as well as NBCNews.com's other stories about science and space, sign up for the Tech & Science newsletter, delivered to your email in-box every weekday. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.