Russian Optics Theory

The Russian Optics Theory, also known as the Russian Optics Conspiracy, Russian Lens Hypothesis, or Samuel's Leak, and commonly abbreviated to ROT, ROC, or RLH, is a proposed explanation for the apparent instances of the slightly larger version of Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars trilogy.

The Leak

Allegedly, the satellite carrying the experimental optics was a Zenit much like this one.

On or around June 23rd, 1998, a man who chose to identify only as "Samuel" first showed up in a Bigger Luke IRC chat. After partaking in rather run-of-the-mill discussions pertaining to Mark Hamill's alleged slightly larger double, Samuel began to claim he had worked for the CIA. He stated that he had important and vital information pertaining to the Bigger Luke hypothesis.

He claimed that in the early 1970's the CIA had acquired a set of experimental lenses from the re-entry capsule of a Russian "Zenit"-type recon satellite, believed to have been recovered from off the coast of Guam. The lenses were apparently designed to magnify images to such an extent that they could take extremely detailed and high-resolution photographs of American military bases. The way they were manufactured was kept secret, yet apparently utilized an advanced, theoretically untested technology that was never used before.

A Panavision PSR 35mm, the camera that filmed Star Wars: A New Hope.

Samuel claimed that samples of these lenses were modified and intentionally swapped with the regular lenses of the Panavision PSR 35mm camera that was being used to film A New Hope. He also claimed that he could not determine whether or not the crew working on A New Hope was aware of this, but he believed it was unlikely most of them knew. If any of them knew, he claimed it was likely they were sworn to secrecy.

Samuel alleged that the lenses didn't function as they were intended - instead having the remarkably unique property of making certain things in the frame appear slightly larger whilst not effecting the rest of the objects in the frame. As such, the project was most likely scrapped by the USSR, as it did not produce the intended results, let alone results that could feasibly prove useful for any application. It was presumably never declassified, and Samuel claimed all remaining lenses were destroyed by the Soviet Union.

The reason the CIA decided to use the first Star Wars film as a testbed for the recovered Soviet lenses was never divulged by Samuel, as he claimed he was unaware of why.


Samuel periodically re-appeared on the IRC chat for about a week, answering questions before disappearing, stating he didn't want the CIA or FBI to track him. He only appeared once more about three years later, during the winter of 2001. A Bigger Luke theorist participated in an email exchange with Samuel - during this exchange, Samuel continued to defend his initial claims, as well as answer a few additional questions. One of the questions asked of him was if the Russian optics were used in The Empire Strikes Back or Return of the Jedi, to which he claimed he did not know, as the documents he alleged only specified A New Hope, then just called Star Wars.

This would imply the possibility that, if Samuel's claims are true, instances of Bigger Luke in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi may have different explanations.


The vast majority of Bigger Luke theorists consider Samuel's Leak to be an elaborate hoax, citing the general absurdity of it, and question whether it would even be possible to create a non-electronically assisted lens that could magnify only certain objects in a frame. Furthermore, if it is to be assumed that Samuel's story is not a farce, why did the camera only enlarge Luke? What criteria determines what is enlarged by these alleged miracle lenses? Was Luke enlarged deliberately by a member of the camera crew? Was it done discretely? What was this lone crewmember's motivation?

Criticisms were also aimed at Samuel's general lack of empirical evidence, as he provided no proof of his endeavors as a CIA agent, let alone direct proof that he uncovered any documents.


Samuel's Leak has a major place in the subculture of the Bigger Luke community, as well as signifying the unofficial end of the Old Era. It is generally referenced ironically amongst Bigger Luke theorists, and there is no record of anyone truly believing Samuel's story.

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