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Science meets sci-fi in new ILM retrospective

"Star Wars" actor Mark Hamill narrates a new special -- "Raiders, Raptors and Rebels: Behind the Magic of ILM" -- with interviews of George Lucas, Joss Whedon, Robert Downey Jr. and more. It airs at 10 p.m. ET/PT today on the Science Channel.

After having his hand cut off by Darth Vader in "The Empire Strikes Back," Luke Skywalker used this prosthetic. James Martin/CNET

Mind-controlled bionic arms resembling those in "Star Wars?" Futuristic printers influenced by "The Terminator?" Life-saving plastic surgery inspired by "The Hulk?"

The special effects from Industrial Light & Magic -- the Lucasfilm division for visual effects that was created by filmmaker George Lucas in 1975 -- have actually given rise to innovative technology in real life, according to a new documentary.

Narrated by "Star Wars" actor Mark Hamill, the one-hour special -- "Raiders, Raptors and Rebels: Behind the Magic of ILM" -- explores ILM's most memorable special effects and how they have inspired technology and science.

The documentary features interviews with scientists, directors, actors and artists as they tell the stories behind favorite movie moments from "Star Wars," "Indiana Jones" and "Jurrasic Park" with exclusive, behind-the-scenes footage of this summer's blockbuster, "The Avengers: Age of Ultron."

"Who knows what 10-year-olds were inspired by pushing of the lever on the Millennium Falcon, and say 'I'm not going to accept the world the way it is?'" "Star Wars" director George Lucas says in the special. "'I'm going to see if I can figure out scientifically all those questions that are unanswered.'"

He adds this dramatic note: "Our only chance at survival is to try to figure out how we're going to get off this planet, because it's going to be destroyed."

Tune into "Raiders, Raptors and Rebels: Behind the Magic of ILM" on the Science Channel at 10 p.m. ET/PT today. (Fans in the UK and Australia, check your local Science Channel websites for the time and date of the episode.)