The Science of Star Trek


Abstract

  • "The Science of Star Trek" was the title of an article written by the speaker in 1993, just after the inception of the World Wide Web. Because of the popular topic and because the article was hosted on a NASA educational web site, it became well-known, widely linked, copied, illustrated, and translated into other languages. Journalists have cited it and interviewed the author in numerous media (Star Trek Communicator magazine, Wired On-line, The Economist, Fortean Times magazine, Geek Le Magazine, IstoƉ - Brazil, National Geographic On-line, the San Francisco Chronicle, PBS's fund-raising special "Science Trek," Smithsonian Channel's "The Real Story: Star Trek"). A web search for "star trek science" usually finds Batchelor's article as the top-ranked non-commercial result. It is currently hosted at http://www.nasa.gov/topics/technology/features/star_trek.html In the Engineering Colloquium talk, Batchelor will engage the scientific credibility of the key technologies in the Star Trek shows and movies. The Star Trek writers made an array of predictions of future technologies, from today's cell phone communicators, medical advances and emerging artificial intelligences to debatable transporters and warp drive. Batchelor regards these technologies as devices to uplift the viewer's vision of what advanced engineering might achieve within a story Universe with structure informed by valid laws of physical science. The ultimate value of Star Trek lies in the encouragement that viewers experience about a future of progress that we can build.