Are we a little late to the party? Sorry, must have been the Romulan Ale we had at the 8th of September, when „Star Trek“ turned 50. Half a century ago James Tiberius Kirk sat down on his command chair for the first time on television. Nowadays „Star Trek“ is still the biggest franchise in Science Fiction with 13 movies, 6 different series and it’s still running.
From the beginning academics debated about how scientific the „science“ in this science fiction actually was. Sure, to this day, we don’t have interstellar starships or any techonolgy with that potential at the horizon. But still: The warp drive may be the better shortcut through the laws of relativity than just jumping into five-dimensional hyperspace. But we admit: Both models are fiction and not science at all.
Many inventions made by Gene Roddenberry and his crew envisioned are already here or in development. Let’s begin with the communicator. A handheld telephone sporting no cablework at all was fiction 50 years ago. Today smartphones even may outwit the board computer on the original Enterprise.
In 2016 there’s a paten filed for a cloaking device, the Navy really developed transparent aluminium – with or without the help of Montgomery Scott – and there ist something that slowly starts to resemble something that could be called the grandfather of the replicator.
That’s all very nice, but what about the transporter? Isn’t that the most convenient of all Star Trek inventions. And I’m not typing this stuck in a traffic jam at all. If you listen to the „International Business Times“ Russia plans to develop transportation until 2035 by spending over $ 2 trillion dollars into science.
Given all that, Star Trek still is fiction And will continue to be. But deep in the vision behind the franchise is science and the belief that science is able to make the world a better place. Star Trek biggest competitor, Star Wars, is all fiction, no science to be found in the Force, in Midichlorians, virgin birth or even light sabres.
So, if you work in science and do not even have the slightest glimpse of what we are talking about: Live long and prosper!
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