the true meaning of ‘parsec’
At the weekend I went to see the new Star Wars film, The Force Awakens. It was lots of fun, a bit hokey in places but very entertaining. However, one bit awoke the pedant in me: Han Solo’s ship, The Millennium Falcon, is claimed to have made the “Kessel Run” in “under twelve parsecs”. An obvious error: a parsec, like a light-year, is a measurement of distance, not of time. Having looked it up on wikipedia I can inform you that a parsec is “the distance at which one astronomical unit subtends an angle of one arcsecond”. I have very little idea what that means but it translates as 3.26 light-years – or 31 trillion km, or 19 trillion miles.
Clearly, though, the scriptwriter thought a parsec was a unit of time. Doesn’t anyone check these things? Why didn’t they just run it past an astronomer? Or look it up on wikipedia, like I did?