December 12, 2012 in Editorial
The White House is currently being petitioned to build The Death Star. If successful, the initiative is expected to stimulate the economy and create numerous jobs in glamorous fields such as engineering and space exploration. But there are logistical questions that have to be answered such as “how would we mop the floors?”
The Death Star is a sphere with a 140km* diameter, made up of layers upon layers of flooring. Picture a huge office building, except ball-shaped.
To figure out how much moppable floor space there was we decided to assume 4m high ceilings. This is higher than usual to take into account the space that is used by hangers/engines/planet destroying superweapons.
Height of average ceiling:
Number of floors:
Area of each floor:
Varies; bigger at the center
We then used some clever mathematics (that you can find over here) to figure out that the total floor space of the entire space station is 359.2 million square kilometers.
Let’s assume a very generous mopping rate of 1 square meter per second. If Darth Vader were to try to mop the entire station without a break then it would take him 11.4 million years to do it. Which seems like a lot, but would at least give him plenty of time to think about his children.
Together we could finish in 5.7 million years!
But the canteen probably wouldn’t be pleased with a kitchen that is only cleaned every ten million years or so. There’s not too much mud in space so let’s assume that the entire station has to be cleaned once a year. We also assumed a standard workweek of 40 hours. To get the job done in a year 48.0 million workers would have to be hired. This represents around 33% of America’s total labour force.
If you could somehow convince them all to work for minimum wage then the owners of the Death Star would have to budget $723 billion a year to keep the floors clean. This would represent about 30% of the American federal government’s annual budget. Or, if the Pentagon was made responsible for mopping the weapons platform, then you’d have to more than double their budget if you wanted them to maintain existing operations in addition to the mopping. (Although the Pentagon would probably agree to make spending cuts in other areas if they were promised a Death Star in return.)
Area of flooring that can be mopped per hour per employee:
Area of flooring that can be mopped per year per employee:
Annual wages per employee
Many Americans might be unhappy about working for minimum wage, especially with such a long commute. But if they raise the issue with their superiors then management may find their lack of faith…disturbing.
Our special thanks to commenter Philip ‘Moo’ Birch of Matlock, UK, for the inspiration and correspondence whilst writing this article.
*At the time of writing of our previous article on the Death Star, this was the figure given by Wikipedia for the diameter of the first Death Star, though this has now been changed to 160km. For the sake of continuity we’ve stuck to 140km. Students who quote Wiki, beware.
If you enjoyed this, then you’ll probably enjoy reading about how much it would cost to build the Death Star, and how much it would cost to become an unbeatable evil overlord. You can find this and other articles in our Editorials although for a selection of the best check out our Greatest Hits. And be sure to stay in touch: