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TrekToday - 'Star Trek' Cited In Technology Boom

'Star Trek' Cited In Technology Boom

By Michelle
March 15, 2004 - 2:28 PM

Several articles highlighting new technological developments draw comparisons between Star Trek's futuristic equipment and the mechanical progress of the 21st century.

The San Francisco Chronicle has a series of articles on Star Trek's vision of the future and current scientific reality.

"Like some wizard, Dr. 'Bones' McCoy needed only to wave his tricorder sensor like a talisman over 'Star Trek' crew members to detect any ailment - and to cure many of them," stated reporter Bernadette Tansey, noting that while McCoy's sensor was a prop made out of a salt shaker, "'Star Trek's futuristic sickbay tools presented a captivating vision of what medicine might one day achieve, inspiring legions of fans who later became some of the world's most inventive scientists."

Another San Francisco Chronicle writer, Benny Evangelista, discussed the development of wireless personal communicators and means for viewing and storing entertainment and news video.

"In the 23rd century universe of 'Star Trek,' people talked to each other using wireless personal communicators, had easy access to a vast database of information and spent hours gazing at a big wall-mounted video screen...on 21st century Earth, that future is already here," he wrote.

"Indeed, 40 years after "Star Trek" creator Gene Roddenberry outlined his vision for the groundbreaking science-fiction TV series, some of the once- futuristic personal technology depicted in the voyages of the starship Enterprise have become a reality."

But Tansey and Evangelista point out in this sidebar that most of the real high-tech developments of Captain Kirk's era, such as warp drive and replicators, are "still in the realm of 'where no one has gone before.'"

An Associated Press article carried by The Baltimore Sun and The Contra Costa Times compares BLEEX - the Berkeley Lower Extremities Exoskeleton, a set of robotic legs "designed to turn an ordinary human into a super strider" - to the Six Million Dollar Man and the Borg.

The strap-on extremities are intended to help soldiers or firefighters carry heavy loads, explained professor Homayoon Kazerooni of the Robotics and Human Engineering Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.

But it won't turn users into efficient Borg drones, noted the article, quoting Kazerooni as saying, "The exoskeleton is not going to magically transform people into killing machines."

Another Associated Press article, this one found in The Chicago Daily Herald, reviews the DocuPen, a scanner the size of a writing implement.

"If...you're not too self-conscious to use something that looks like it was pilfered from the Star Trek prop room," stated Peter Svensson, you can scan text with the portable device and transfer it to a computer later.

And The Washington Times has a feature on a new sensor designed to prevent "friendly fire", the accidental military crisis of troops accidentally firing on their own in combat because they have no way to distinguish enemy soldiers.

Developed by the Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration, the new electronic "tag" can be placed on clothing, weapons or vehicles. "Though the sensor may seem something from 'Star Trek,'" noted the article, it will work with existing radars, requiring no expensive new equipment to decipher.

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