News / Science & Technology

Star Trek Influence Lives Long and Prospers

Star Trek Influence Lives Long and Prospersi
X
May 23, 2013 3:51 PM
As the dazzling new sci-fi adventure Star Trek Into Darkness thrills theatergoers, academics, professionals and Star Trek fans alike are once again discussing the iconic franchise's influence on society, science and technology. VOA's Suzanne Presto in Washington has more.
Star Trek Influence Lives Long and Prospers
Suzanne Presto
Academics, professionals and Star Trek fans are once again discussing the iconic franchise's influence on society, science, and technology, as the dazzling new sci-fi adventure Star Trek Into Darkness plays in theaters.
 
The starship Enterprise is well-known to viewers of the iconic Star Trek TV series and visitors to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, where the original model is on display in the gift shop.  The fictional craft - whose long-running mission has been to explore the farthest reaches of "space, the final frontier" - even inspired the name of NASA's prototype space shuttle, said museum curator Margaret Weitekamp. 
 
"Well, the very first space shuttle was actually named Enterprise as a result of a write-in campaign orchestrated by Star Trek fans of the 1970s," she explained. 
 
Star Trek and Society
 
Weitekamp, who recently took part in a panel discussion at the museum about Star Trek's relevance, noted the television series began airing in the 1960s as women and minorities pressed for equal rights.  
 
"Star Trek has been a really important vision not only of what future spaceflight could look like, but also a reflection of what the hopes were, especially in the 1960s, for what human society could look like," she said.  "So, very importantly in 1966, it is a mixed-sex, racially integrated, multinational space crew that even includes an alien going out and really working together as equals."    
 
Star Trek Tech
 
Nancy Reagin, a professor at Pace University in New York and editor of the book "Star Trek and History", noted the show's creator, Gene Roddenberry, was a futurist.  She says some of Roddenberry's friends worked in technology development, and the original series showed technologies that have become reality.    
 
"You see the first depiction of a plasma-screen TV.  You see the first depiction of what I would call a cell phone.  I mean the communicators - they sort of flip open just like the first cell phone that I ever had," she explained.  "You see the first example of Bluetooth technology, where Uhura is wearing the little Bluetooth in her ear.  You see the first use of tablets, you know, where they are using multi-touch pads."
 
Star Trek still inspires engineers, said Mike Gold, corporate counsel at Bigelow Aerospace.  The Nevada-based company is developing next-generation spacecraft.
 
"I'd like to think that our entire program is again very much in keeping with the spirit of Star Trek, which is to push the boundaries for human exploration," he said.
 
The Bigelow Expander Activity Module will be tested on the International Space Station in 2015.  Gold notes its acronym, BEAM, harkens back to Star Trek characters' abilities to teleport or "beam" from one location to another. 
 
Continuing Relevance
 
Star Trek fans gathered at the Air and Space Museum in Washington and the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City for a Google Hangout with the stars and writer of the newest movie, Star Trek Into Darkness.  Two astronauts at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, and one on the International Space Station joined in to discuss Star Trek's appeal.
 
Astronaut Kjell Lindgren in Houston said it fires up the imagination.
 
"That's one of the real fun things about these movies and just science fiction in general: that opportunity to imagine what the future could be like and what technology is going to be like," he said.
 
Lindgren, a physician, said he would love to see a wand that could diagnose illnesses, similar to the medical tricorder seen on Star Trek.
 
Fellow astronaut Michael Fincke said researchers are testing a device called Microflow, which is designed to quickly assess astronauts' health.  Microflow is on the International Space Station now.    
 
"It uses these really tiny, little disposable cartridges and chips, and that same technology finds its way into the hospital room just a few years after we experiment with it," Fincke said. 
 
Astronaut Fincke, speaking from Johnson Space Center, added that Star Trek motivates him during tedious office meetings on Earth.   
 
"Then you think about some of the recent Star Trek episodes you've watched and you start to say, 'Yeah, that's inspirational.  That's why I'm here at NASA,'" he told fans.
 
Star Trek has been a part of popular culture for nearly 50 years and with yet another movie in the planning stages, it will continue to inspire people to think about space, the final frontier.  

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid