This week’s edition of
Geek Trivia includes a special shout-out to CNET engineer extraordinaire Bryan
, who put me on the scent of some of this week’s magnificent

When a full-scale model of a certain world-famous fictional
spacecraft was under construction in a decommissioned Welsh aircraft hangar in
1979, locals referred to it only as the Magic Roundabout.
Today, geeks the world over know this craft by sight, by name, by its pilot,
and by virtue of the uber-popular science-fantasy franchise it helped launch.
We speak, of course, of the Millennium

Piloted by Han Solo,
maintained by Chewbacca, originally owned and nearly destroyed by Lando
Calrissian, and lifesaving transport of Obi-Wan Kenobi,
, R2-D2,
and Luke Skywalker, the Millennium Falcon is the preferred star-freighter for
fans of the George Lucas Star Wars
franchise. But you knew that already—otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this column.

In fact, even money says you also knew that the Millennium
Falcon was a heavily customized version of the a standard YT-1300 Corellian
Transport that—thanks to some “special modifications”—can achieve the
vaunted hyperspace velocities of “point-five past lightspeed,” which
in turn enabled Han Solo to make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. This
is all padawan-level stuff for the average Star Wars fan.

(Yes, we all know that a parsec is measure of distance,
rather than of time, but if you start quibbling with those details, you have to
ask what “point-five past lightspeed” means, why relativistic time
dilation never applies for the Falcon’s trans-luminal travels, and why any
technological civilization that can solve such problems can’t make a targeting
computer that would bulls-eye a two-meter thermal exhaust port. It’s just best
not to go there.)

Slightly higher up the Jedi geek-o-meter is the knowledge
that George Lucas’ inspiration for the Falcon’s counterintuitive quasi-flying
saucer design came from staring at a half-eaten hamburger. To kick it up
another dorkish notch, you probably know that the inspiration for the Falcon’s
bizarre outrigger cockpit
came from an olive used to garnish said
half-eaten hamburger.

Your knowledge of the Force must be truly great, however, if
you’re aware that the famous design for the Falcon was a last-minute change
during the original Star Wars
production—one caused by the original Falcon model’s uncomfortable similarity
to another famous science-fiction spaceship.


What other semi-famous science-fiction spaceship bore an
uncomfortable similarity to the original design for the Millennium Falcon,
forcing George Lucas to revamp the legendary craft into the now familiar saucer-and-outrigger-cockpit
it sported during the original Star
film trilogy?

The Eagle shuttle used by the Moonbase Alpha crew in the
British sci-fi television series Space:
looked remarkably close to George Lucas’ original conception of
Millennium Falcon. When compared side-by-side, the Space: 1999 Eagle
and the
original Millennium Falcon model
aren’t exactly identical twins, but they
were still too close for Lucas’ comfort, considering the filmmaker was trying
to carve out a bold new vision of space opera while consciously avoiding any
direct homage to then-contemporary sci-fi movies or television.

And make no mistake, when Space: 1999 ran between 1975 and 1978, it was arguably the most
ambitious sci-fi show on television, sharing some direct production
ties—notably effects director Brian Johnson—with Stanley Kubrick’s
groundbreaking 1968 film version of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Thus, any sci-fi film planning to debut on Memorial Day in 1977 had best take
the Space: 1999 factor into account.

Thankfully, Lucas’ revised design was not only viable, but
beloved. As for the original Falcon model, it not only didn’t get cut from the production—it garnered one of the most
portentous and visible spots in the entire original Star Wars film.

Since the effects team had already developed the original
Falcon as a hyper-detailed model—the better for use in close-ups—it seemed a
waste not to use it. So Lucas had its cockpit modified—insisting on preserving
the original spider-web-windowed cockpit for use in the new Falcon, if only to
make the exteriors match the already-shot interior sequences—and dropped it
into another role where visual first impressions were paramount.

The modified original Millennium Falcon became the first
spacecraft ever shown in a Star Wars
film, reborn as the Tantive IV, Princess
Leia’s Corellian Corvette
blockade runner that booms overhead in Star Wars‘ first scene, relentlessly
pursued by Darth Vader’s Imperial Star

The same ship (though, obviously, not the same production
model) appeared again in Star Wars Episode
III: Revenge of the Sith
, used by Leia’s adopted father, Senator Bail
Organa, who presumably later bequeathed the vessel to his daughter. That’s not
just artistic closure, my friends, that’s great Geek Trivia.

Free mug to the greatest Geek Trivia

Attention Geek Trivia fans: I’m asking all of you to start
using digg, reddit,
and to pimp this column! If any
of you use these services and wouldn’t mind tossing Geek Trivia into the mix,
I’m not above begging—or bribing—for the help.

Whichever TechRepublic member successfully submits the most
Geek Trivia columns to the above and similar services will receive a
can’t-buy-it-because-we-don’t-sell-it TechRepublic Smug Mug. To prove your
work, just post
a comment to this blog post
that includes the link to your profile page on
digg, reddit,, etc.

The profile with the most obvious (non-scientifically
measured) Geek Trivia pimpage will earn the coveted mug. Ladies and gentlemen,
start your pimpin’!

Check out the Trivia Geek’s blog!

Keep in touch
with Trivial Pursuits
, the
Trivia Geek’s online journal of rants, opinions, crazy ideas, half-baked
notions, bizarre concepts, wild schemes, and trivial observations unfit even
for Geek Trivia.

The Quibble of the Week

If you uncover a questionable fact or debatable aspect of
this week’s Geek Trivia, just post it in the discussion area of the article.
Every week, yours truly will choose the best post from the assembled masses and
discuss it in the next edition of Geek Trivia.

This week’s quibble comes from the March 8 edition of Geek
Trivia, “Life,
the universe, and Easter eggs.”
TechRepublic member Iguanasrule called me out for
forgetting another more ‘prominent’—and we’re talking about an Apple product,
so I use this term loosely—bit of software that contains a Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy-themed 42-based Easter egg.

“Those of you who use Apple OS X will also see it on
the scientific calculator. It’s on the start-up screen and can be found under
Ultimate Answer in the Constants menu.”

Shocking as it may seem, I don’t have any more than a
passing knowledge of Mac OS X, but thanks for letting us know that even Apple
developers have a taste for decent science-fiction comedy. Keep up the good
work, and keep those quibbles coming!

Falling behind on your weekly Geek fix?

Check out the Geek Trivia Archive,
and catch up on the most recent editions of Geek Trivia.

Test your command of
useless knowledge by subscribing to TechRepublic’s Geek Trivia newsletter. Automatically
sign up today!

The Trivia Geek, also
known as Jay Garmon, is a former advertising copywriter and Web developer who’s
duped TechRepublic into underwriting his affinity for movies, sci-fi, comic
books, technology, and all things geekish or subcultural.