Students work out bugs in the deflector shields

Deflector shields

Deflector shields are a pain in the $#%&.

On “Star Wars,” they keep the Rebel Alliance from being blowing up the Death Star (until a group of guerilla teddy bears helps them knock out the shield generator).

Meanwhile, over in the United Federation of Planets, Capt. Kirk and Mr. Spock are forever trapped on inhospitable worlds because Scotty can’t lower the shields long enough to beam them back to the Enterprise.

However, energy shields do come in handy. On “Doctor Who,” how would the Doctor and Romana board the Skonnan freighter if the Doctor had not been able to rig the TARDIS’ defense shield to create a boarding ramp?

That’s way, for all the headaches energy shields create, that students at the University of Leicester are trying to learn how to build one of their own. You never know the Romulans, Daleks or Imperial Stormtroopers might attack. reports that students have just published in the student-run Journal of Special Physics Topics that details how energy plasma could be used to create a barrier around a ship, or other object, which could deflect certain kinds of energy. (Let’s pray that includes Klingon disruptors.)

According to the website, the technology is nothing new. The same law of physics apply when communication signals off plasma in the ionosphere. That’s how you send a radio signal across the horizon. You play a little game of planetary billiards and bounce the signal off the upper atmosphere.

The same principle applies to the students’ hypothetical shield.

According to, they conceived of walling themselves off with plasma to deflect electromagnetic radiation (like a Sontaran energy weapon).

Ronald Reagan would have loved this stuff.

During the 1980s, Reagan promoted the idea of some kind of computer defense against missile attacks. He would have loved the idea of a deflector shield. But just as Reagan ran head first into reality 30 years ago, this latest idea has some serious flaws as well.

ExtremeTech reportsa plasma-based deflector shield powerful enough to hold off the Daleks and their energy weapons would be gigantic and consume a huge amount of power.

Our best hope remains that there is no such thing as Daleks.