From Science Fiction to Science Fact: Star Trek Technology
The Science of Star Trek has become today’s reality in a great many ways. The late Leonard Nimoy once told a story about when he was walking down the street talking on his flip phone. He noticed that a number of people were stopping dead in the street and were staring at him. For a few minutes, he wondered what was going on. But then he realized that people were not staring at Leonard Nimoy talking on his cell phone, but rather Mr. Spock talking on his communicator.
Since then, mobile phones have advanced far beyond what the iconic 1960s science-fiction TV show imagined. The communicators that Spock and Captain Kirk used while on a landing party on an alien planet could only transmit voice. Modern smartphones can access voice, text, images, video, and just about any information imaginable. If anything, what seemed fantastic almost 50 years ago is old-fashioned just two centuries away from the starship Enterprise’s five-year voyage.
What about the medical tricorder, that marvelous hand-held device that Dr. McCoy used to diagnose just about any disease or injury imaginable?
According to Gizmodo, a company called Scandou has a product somewhat like that called the Scout. Place the Scout against the forehead and it will return a person’s vital signs in ten seconds. Currently various companies are developing wearable devices that will do much the same thing, and perhaps much more. In a few years, Dr. McCoy will not even need his tricorder, at least for crewmembers. They’ll all have wearable devices that will tell him everything he needs to know.
Finally, the USS Enterprise flew from star system to star system using a warp drive that allowed it to fly faster than light. For a time, warp drives were not only considered science-fiction, but fantasy. But a current understanding of physics has caused NASA to start a small-scale laboratory project to build an actual warp drive, something that would move space-time instead of the physical starship, so that voyages to those strange new worlds would take perhaps weeks instead of hundreds of years. Perhaps in a hundred years or less, Star Trek will be a reality in every sense of the word.