Have I mentioned I’m a Star Trek fan? Oh yeah, there it is. Like I’ve said, I’m not exactly a Trekkie, mostly because I never tried to learn Klingon or create a lifesize replica of the bridge of the Starship Enterprise in my basement.
I will admit though that I have watched every single episode of every single Star Trek series – and that’s not something a lot of people can or will say. I blame it more on my tendency to get obsessed with any TV show I’m watching and consume every available episode as quickly as possible. It just so happens that Star Trek has a lot of material to offer.
But every once and a while I am truly amazed by some aspect of the franchise. Like how many pieces of fake technology created on Star Trek have actually become a reality. There are tons of examples (just take a closer look at Uhura’s comm earpiece and tell me it isn’t bluetooth technology). Here are my favorites:
1. The communicator a.k.a. flip phone
I owned this exact phone four or five years ago and if you don’t think that on occasion I flipped it open just like Captain Kirk, you obviously don’t know me very well.
2. The Padd a.k.a. iPad:
I mean, they called it a Padd for crying out loud!! So crazy.
3. Replicator a.k.a. 3D printer
This one I just realized and it BLOWS MY MIND. Ever since I first heard about 3D printing a couple of years ago, I have been completely fascinated. The idea that we can print out actual, physical, 3D objects from a printer is just too cool. These days there are plans to print everything from dinosaur robots to prescription drugs to commercial airplanes!
But it wasn’t until I read a story about NASA developing a 3D printer that could be used in space that it hit me – that is the EXACT idea behind a replicator in Star Trek. Obviously space travel wouldn’t be practical if you had to bring every conceivable part that you might need for long journeys. Nor would it be safe if you didn’t have at least one spare for every crucial system. DUH, you’d have to take along technology that can manufacture those parts while you’re boldly going wherever you’re going.
This realization hit me over the head so suddenly last night I think The Flying Crane thought I was going into cardiac arrest. I don’t know why it struck me so profoundly, but I am still a little in awe. Maybe it’s because this piece of science-fiction-made-reality could actually help us travel the stars…or at least go to Mars in 2030.
For years The Best Friend and I have joked somewhat wistfully about someone inventing a Star Trek transporter so we could instantly pop in for a visit with each other instead of the entire day of plane travel it takes now. It has always sounded so fantastical, but then so did a machine that could instantly synthesize 3D objects on command. I wonder if that beaming technology would hurt…