On the Compaction of Trash in a Death Star

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On the Compaction of Trash in a Death Star

Post by Straha » 2017-12-19 03:26pm

Joshua Tyree wrote:I maintain that the trash compactor onboard the Death Star in Star Wars is implausible, unworkable, and moreover, inefficient.

The Trash Compactor Debate turns on whether the Death Star ejects its trash into space. I, for one, believe it does. Though we never see the Death Star ejecting its trash, we do see another Empire ship, the so-called Star Destroyer, ejecting its trash into space. I therefore see no reason to suspect that Empire protocol dictating that trash be ejected into space would not apply equally to all Empire spacecraft, including the Death Star.

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The Death Star clearly has a garbage-disposal problem. Given its size and massive personnel, the amount of waste it generates — discarded food, broken equipment, excrement, and the like — boggles the imagination. That said, I just cannot fathom how an organization as ruthless and efficiently-run as the Empire would have signed off on such a dangerous, unsanitary, and shoddy garbage-disposal system as the one depicted in the movie.

Here are the problems, as I can ascertain them, with the Death Star’s garbage-disposal system:

1. Ignoring the question of how Princess Leia could possibly know where the trash compactor is, or that the vent she blasts open leads to a good hiding place for the rescue crew, why are there vents leading down there at all? Would not vents leading into any garbage-disposal system allow the fetid smell of rotting garbage, spores, molds, etc., to seep up into the rest of the Death Star? Would not it have been more prudent for the designers of the Death Star to opt for a closed system, like a septic tank?

2. Why do both walls of the trash compactor move towards each other, rather than employing a one-movable-wall system that would thus rely on the anchored stability, to say nothing of the strength, of the other, non-moving wall, to crush trash more effectively?

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3. Why does the trash compactor compact trash so slowly, and with such difficulty, once the resistance of a thin metal rod is introduced? Surely metal Death Star pieces are one of the main items of trash in need of compacting. It thus stands to reason that the trash compactor should have been better designed to handle the problem of a skinny piece of metal. (And while I hate to be the sort of person who says I told you so, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that a one-movable-wall system would have improved performance.)

4. Why does the trash compactor only compact trash sideways? Once ejected into space, wouldn’t the flattened, living-room-sized, and extremely solid panes of trash that result from such a primitive, unidirectional trash compactor pose serious hazards for Empire starships in the vicinity?

5. And what of the creature that lives in the trash compactor? Presumably, the creature survives because the moving walls do not extend all the way to the floor of the room, where the liquid is. After all, if the walls reached the floor, the creature would be killed each time trash is compacted. The design employed on the Death Star must allow the organic trash to filter down to the bottom, where the parasitic worm-creature devours it. But what happens when heavier pieces of non-organic trash fall down there? Would such trash not get wedged under the doors, causing them to malfunction? Do stormtroopers have to confront the creature each time they retrieve pieces of un-compacted trash?

6. Why not have separate systems for organic and inorganic waste, thus allowing full compaction of the inorganics and a closed sanitary system for the organics?

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7. Why does the Empire care, anyway, about reducing its organic garbage output? Are we to believe that the architects of the Death Star, a group of individuals bent on controlling the entire known universe, are also concerned about environmental issues? Would organic garbage rot in space? So what? Furthermore, why has the Empire gone to the trouble of acquiring a frightening parasitic worm-creature and having it eat all organic trash, especially given the aforementioned flaws in the design of the compactor and overall maintenance hassles?

8. Personally, were it up to me, I would have designed special garbage ships instead of employing a crude, cumbersome, and inefficient (to say nothing of unsanitary) compactor-worm combo to deal with the trash.

9. If the Empire insists on ejecting trash into space, why do they bother compacting it? Space is infinite, is it not? In such an environment, it hardly matters what size the trash is. In fact, a persuasive argument can be made that it’s actually better for the trash to take up more space, so that it appears on radar systems as something for Empire ships to avoid. Compacted trash creates smaller chunks of harder trash that would undoubtedly cause serious damage to Empire starships. And needless to say, damage to starships would, in turn, create yet more hassles and headaches for the Empire.

Please understand, gentle reader, I am all for creating hassles and headaches for the Empire. I just doubt that the Empire would have created so many for itself. Q.E.D.
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Re: On the Compaction of Trash in a Death Star

Post by GuppyShark » 2017-12-19 03:48pm

A few assumptions in here:

That the trash monster was a design decision and not an opportunistic parasite
That it remains in the compression chamber during compacting
That compacting is done for environmental reasons and not for the same reason they do it in garbage trucks (handling ease)
That compressed garbage floating in space is somehow dangerous to a starship

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Re: On the Compaction of Trash in a Death Star

Post by LadyTevar » 2017-12-19 04:04pm

Please note the compactor was turned off before we saw the end-stage. It could, like a modern car crusher, have had a secondary stage which further flattened the garbage into a cube that would be more easily ejected.
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Re: On the Compaction of Trash in a Death Star

Post by Solauren » 2017-12-19 04:59pm

My thinking is the trash compactor(s) associated with the Dentention level are for dramatic effect and limited trash compacting functionality.

You know, toss the rebel in as a form of intimidation.

Imagine being a prisoner or group of them tossed down, without R2? Most people would be confessing everything out of fear.

Would also explain the handy escape hatch.

Basically, Leia took them all into an dual purpose garbage chute/torture device.
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Re: On the Compaction of Trash in a Death Star

Post by Broomstick » 2017-12-19 05:55pm

The Death Star is huge. Compacting trash deep in the interior of the ship makes it easier to transport it to the surface for ejection into space. Heck, even in the store I work in we'll sometimes break down cardboard boxes and stack the flattened sheets on a pallet to make it easier to transport them in bulk to our bailer and that's a lot shorter distance than from the inside to the exterior of the death star. Compacted shit is easier to transport in bulk.

The Death Star might have some sort of recycling system that turns organic waste and fluids into potable water and some sort of food for personnel on board. We only see a small part of a gigantic space ship, the life support machinery and systems required must be substantial and incorporating recycling just makes it more efficient long term. And while the resulting food make not be great it may be quite sufficient for emergency military rations which, being a military ship, might be of some logistical importance.

I'm guessing the compactor monster is an opportunistic critter and not a design feature, rather like rodents and insects stowing aboard terrestrial ships.
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Re: On the Compaction of Trash in a Death Star

Post by Batman » 2017-12-19 06:25pm

Fuck around here everybody breaks down cardboard boxes before they go in the trash because they're too damned bulky otherwise (except when they're used as containers for other paper waste).
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Re: On the Compaction of Trash in a Death Star

Post by Lord Revan » 2017-12-19 07:07pm

Honestly I've not heard of anyone who doesn't flatten/break down cardboard boxes when putting them into the trash. There's no many good reasons why to do that and not really any good reason as to why not do it.
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Re: On the Compaction of Trash in a Death Star

Post by KraytKing » 2017-12-21 11:30am

First thing I noticed was his assumption that the dianoga stays in the trash compactor. It doesn't. Right before it starts compacting, the dianoga releases Luke and swims away. We then hear the sound of a door closing. It left.
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Re: On the Compaction of Trash in a Death Star

Post by Shroom Man 777 » 2017-12-22 06:04pm

My personal theory is that Palpatine designed the massive chambers of the Death Star to actually house like orphans, children he'd kidnap from worlds he'd hold hostage with the DS superlaser. He'd blow up the planets, so the children would be parentless - thus sorrowful orphans. Then at the peak of their sorrow, as they're stacked in those massive chambers, they would get crushed and turned into Orphan Juice that Palpatine would use to create coagulated Sith holocrons for pure evil. I am sure the EU has stories about such orphan-extract holocrons.

Anyway, the Stormtroopers had no clue about this and just threw their crap at a few of these crushing chambers.

Other chambers were meant to be used for a massive Imperial High Command Pool Party, when everyone takes a swim and Palpatine Force Lightnings them all, cooking them and leaving him as the absolute sole ruler of the cosmos.

Oh and the Orphan Juice holocrons would make Palpatine go AKIRA and his mutated tissues would expand and grow inside the massive Death Star chambers, turning the battlestation into a massive shell. His face would form on the outer hull of the Death Star.

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Re: On the Compaction of Trash in a Death Star

Post by Soontir C'boath » 2017-12-23 09:39am

  • I'm rewatching the scene and Chewie can smell the sewage from the detention block.
  • They managed to land on a pile of what looks to be a bunch of plastic parts mixed with metal which is presumably how Leia and Chewie, without having any armor on, managed to land unscathed. Plus, they must have fallen at least 15+ feet which should still hurt a bit. Despite the disgusting water, Leia manages to keep her dress white too!
  • There must be a large chute in-between the detention blocks to allow the trash to land in the compactor from a maintenance facility.
  • The eyeball creature seems to be able to come in and out of its own volition through a doggy door. The fact that you can even hear a door shut after it leaves seem to indicate they do serve an intentional purpose.
  • There's a "pressure maintenance hatch" on one side that's big enough to fit workers through. The other side presumably allows for the removal of the trash and maybe another component to compact them even further.
  • Random tidbit, when the stormtroopers find 3PO and R2, the squad leader decides to depart to look for the heroes instead of calling it in for other troopers to act and leaves one trooper to stand guard. Seems it would be more fitting given that as big as the DS is, they would send the troopers that would be more nearby.
While I agree with some points like not having the compactor in its own circulation system. At the end of the day, it all goes back to shitty design where this is the same Death Star that does not include the concept of hand rails on walkways that span over an empty expanse.
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Re: On the Compaction of Trash in a Death Star

Post by Elheru Aran » 2017-12-27 11:27am

Perhaps dianogas serve a function of eating organic matter, which is occasionally alive and wiggly? Maybe they keep live food stock in the DS kitchens?
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Re: On the Compaction of Trash in a Death Star

Post by Q99 » 2018-01-01 03:55am

Soontir C'boath wrote:
2017-12-23 09:39am
[*]Random tidbit, when the stormtroopers find 3PO and R2, the squad leader decides to depart to look for the heroes instead of calling it in for other troopers to act and leaves one trooper to stand guard. Seems it would be more fitting given that as big as the DS is, they would send the troopers that would be more nearby.[/list]
Large amounts of Death Star wouldn't have any reason to have troopers in them, I'd think.

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Re: On the Compaction of Trash in a Death Star

Post by LadyTevar » 2018-01-01 06:08pm

Elheru Aran wrote:
2017-12-27 11:27am
Perhaps dianogas serve a function of eating organic matter, which is occasionally alive and wiggly? Maybe they keep live food stock in the DS kitchens?
Or had the function of a ship's cat, clearing out the ship-rats?
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Re: On the Compaction of Trash in a Death Star

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-01-02 11:19am

LadyTevar wrote:
2018-01-01 06:08pm
Elheru Aran wrote:
2017-12-27 11:27am
Perhaps dianogas serve a function of eating organic matter, which is occasionally alive and wiggly? Maybe they keep live food stock in the DS kitchens?
Or had the function of a ship's cat, clearing out the ship-rats?
Yeah, that's a fair enough guess too, though from the little we see of them they seem aquatic. Probably they can use droids for dry parts like vents and such, though.
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