User:EEMIV/Star Trek's influence on science and technology

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Star Trek has had a significant influence on science and technology. The franchise's depiction of science and technology have inspired viewers to enter related fields, while Star Trek's devices and ideas have inspired actual products and theories. Additionally, references to the franchise's fictional technology are sometimes used to explain a scientific or technological advance in the real world.

Cellular phones[edit]

Martin Cooper, the engineer credited with inventing the mobile phone, says he was inspired by the handheld communicators in Star Trek.[1]


The Star Trek franchise is "a paradise of computers", and computers are what make Star Trek seem futuristic.[2] David Pogue said Star Trek presents the "ideal" of accurate conversational computers,[3] and technology professionals have hoped to turn into reality Star Trek's depiction of a spoken natural-language computer interface.[4] Additionally, Star Trek scenic art supervisor Mike Okuda said Star Trek's interchangeable data chips presaged USB flash drives.[5]

Google developers and staffers have compared its products and goals to the computers depicted in Star Trek. In 2010, a Google spokesman told Slate's Farhad Manjoo that it considered its Android devices a combination of Star Trek's tricorder and computer system. Two years later, a Google director of product management told Manjoo the "Star Trek computer" is Google's "roadmap" for developing its search product. In March 2013, Amit Singhal, who headed Google's search rankings team, told the reporter that Google's search product was "destin[ed] ... to become that Star Trek computer".[6] According to Singhal, Google developers internally refer to Star Trek computers' capabilities and the way characters interact with them. Singhal said the Star Trek computer is "the perfect search engine" because it understands natural language and anticipates users' needs.[6] Singhal also said Google looks to Star Trek for inspiration regarding ubiquitous computing.[7] Anand Lal Shimpi said the Xbox One's voice recognition was "not bad", but also not as robust as that of the computer in Star Trek: The Next Generation.[8]

Tablet computers[edit]

Smaller tablet computers such as the iPad Mini, Kindle Fire, and Nexus 7 have been compared with the handheld Personal Access and Display Devices (PADD) introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation.[1] In addition to their comparable 7-inch (180 mm) sizes, users' increasing perception that they "can take a beating" makes them similar to the rugged PADD seen in Star Trek.[1] Star Trek visual effects artist Doug Drexler, comparing the original iPad to the PADD, called the former "the true Star Trek dream".[9]

Medical devices[edit]

The Tricorder X PRIZE encourages competition to create a medical sensor similar in capabilities to the tricorder in Star Trek.[10]


A United States military intelligence center, designed in consultation with a Hollywood set designer and reminiscent of the Enterprise bridge, evoked Star Trek. One military officer said the chair in the center in the room was called "the Captain Kirk chair", and another officer responsible for dignitary visits said members of Congress of other guests "wanted to sit in the chair at least once to pretend he was Jean-Luc Picard".[11]

Quantum teleportation[edit]

Quantum physicist Andreas Wallraff told National Geographic that people think of Star Trek when they hear references to quantum teleportation.[12] He explained that in Star Trek, people disappear from one place and reappear in another without physically traveling the distance; in quantum teleportation, quantum information in one place disappears and instantaneously reappears in another place.[12] NASA said they "don't have a clue" about how to build a transporter similar to the kind depicted in Star Trek.[13]

Space exploration[edit]

Star Trek's popularity led to a successful letter-writing campaign to have America's first space shuttle to be named Enterprise in honor of the television vessel.[14] A University of Iowa physics professor told The New York Times that the Voyager 1 probe's departure from the solar system was "'Star Trek' stuff, for sure."[15]


  1. ^ a b c "Martin Cooper (1926- )". Time (magazine). Time Inc. Retrieved September 18, 2013.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name ":0" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  2. ^ Gresh, 2
  3. ^ Pogue, David (2010). "Talk to the Machine: Progress in Speech-Recognition Software". Scientific American. Nature Publishing Group. 303 (6). Retrieved August 28, 2013.  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help)
  4. ^ Kissell, Joe (August 26, 2013). "My office is not a starship, or why speech recognition is not for me". Macworld. Jason Snell. Retrieved August 27, 2013. 
  5. ^ Foresman, Chris (August 9, 2010). "How Star Trek artists imagined the iPad… 23 years ago". Ars Technica. Condé Nast Digital. p. 2. Retrieved August 28, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Manjoo, Farhad (April 11, 2013). "Where No Search Engine Has Gone Before". Slate. The Washington Post Company. Retrieved June 27, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Google develops computer inspired by Star Trek". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. October 22, 2012. Retrieved August 28, 2013. 
  8. ^ Lal Shimpi, Anand (November 20, 2013). "The Xbox One - Mini Review & Comparison to Xbox 360/PS4". AnandTech. Anand Lal Shimpi. Retrieved November 22, 2013. 
  9. ^ Foresman, Chris (August 9, 2010). "How Star Trek artists imagined the iPad… 23 years ago". Ars Technica. Condé Nast Digital. p. 1. Retrieved August 28, 2013. 
  10. ^ Boyle, Alan (May 13, 2011). "'Trek' tricorder could win $10 million". NBC News. NBCUniversal. Retrieved October 15, 2013. 
  11. ^ Heil, Emily (September 16, 2013). "NSA director inherited Star Trek digs". The Washington Post. Katharine Weymouth. Retrieved October 29, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b Kramer, Melody (August 14, 2013). "Teleportation: Behind the Science of Quantum Computing". National Geographic. National Geographic Society. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 
  13. ^ "The Science of Star Trek". NASA. May 5, 2009. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Does ‘Star Trek’ Really Influence Science and Technology?". Voice of America. May 21, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 
  15. ^ Barnes, Brooks (September 12, 2013). "In a Breathtaking First, NASA’s Voyager 1 Exits the Solar System". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved September 18, 2013. “I don’t know if it’s in the same league as landing on the moon, but it’s right up there — ‘Star Trek’ stuff, for sure,” said Donald A. Gurnett, a physics professor at the University of Iowa and the co-author of a paper published Thursday in the journal Science about Voyager’s feat. “I mean, consider the distance. It’s hard even for scientists to comprehend.” 

Further reading[edit]

  • Shatner, William (August 1, 2002). I'm Working on That: A Trek From Science Fiction to Science Fact. Pocket Books.  Unknown parameter |coauthor= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)

External links[edit]

Category:Star Trek