Starlog 6: Adventures and Star Trek: Technology

Professor: Adventures

Professor meets alien life form (alf) 1

You’re green, professor observes.

I am not green.  Research shows that I am a combination of the primary colors yellow and blue.

Star Trek: Technology

Technology on Star Trek sometimes was predictive of the development of similar future technology in the real world. In Stark Trek Vault: 40 Years from the Archives, Scott Tipton discusses  “updated versions of Star Trek” technology “like the phaser, the communicator, and the tricorder” and a new addition to Star Trek: The Next Generation: “the Personal Access Display Device, or PADD. About the size and width of a magazine, the PADD gave Starfleet crew members a sort of handheld conduit to the Enterprise’s larger computer system….Fast-forward a mere twenty-five years, and the . . . gadget on the market is Apple’s iPad, a magazine-size computer with a tactile-function screen and only one or two visible buttons” (61).  Clearly, the PADD was predictive of the iPad.  According to Elizabeth Howell in “Star Trek: History and Effect on Space Technology”, the communicator was predictive of the flip phone while tricorders now exist as MRIs.   

One essential Star Trek technology is the transporter, which allows for human teleportation.  In the video “Star Trek and Imagined Technologies” that is part of the course “Star Trek: Inspiring Culture and Technology”, Scott Mantz, President and co-Founder of the LA Online Film Critics Society and recipient of the ICG Publicists Guild Press Award (honoring outstanding entertainment journalism), states that Star Trek technology “tended to be influenced by two factors–imagination and practicality…. The transporter . . . was devised by a budget-conscious Gene Roddenberry as a way to get Captain Kirk and crew down to the various planets they’d be visiting every week without requiring costly special effects sequences showing the Enterprise landing”.  On this basis, the Star Trek universe could not exist without this type of technology.  The Star Trek universe is better with this technology not only due to its practical nature but also because landing the ship or even an exploratory vessel on some planets might have resulted in dire consequences.  The ship’s crew in “The Cage” already experienced illusions while floating in space a distance from Talos IV. The illusions were manifested by Talosians who initially wished to enslave humans.  What might have been the consequences of landing the ship on Talos IV—especially prematurely?  

While no technology that allows for instant human transportation exists, the fact that Star Trek has been predictive and that quantum teleportation is a currently reality both allow for pause.  Perhaps some time in the future, be it decades or light years away, humans will hear this in preparation for travel in the real world: “Beam me up!”.

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