Life Imitates Star Trek

With the passing of the great engineer, I thought that it’d be fitting if we posted some of the real life things that had been inspired by Star Trek.

CDs and 3.5 floppies were inspired by episodes of Star Trek. The Navy came out and studied the original bridge design (no idea if they incorporated anything) back when the series first aired.

Anybody know of anything else?

The flip-top cellphone, of course. It’s impossible to get one of those and not say, “Beam me up, Scotty!”

Automatic doors, would be one guess.

True story: many years agio, the groupI was in was doing research on Laser Propulsion for space flight. This wasn’t light pressure, but a system suggested by Arthur Kantrowitz in which you ablated a thin layer of a propellant block with a powerful laser pulse, then pumped energy into it, causing it to expand. In essence, you keep the rocket motor on the ground and only have to send up reaction mass with your payload (Yes, this was ground-to-orbit launching).

We needed something to put into the reaction mass to make it ionize easily. Alkali metal compounds looked good, because it’s easy to pop off the extra electron. We looked through the list of compounds and found…

Dilithium Tartrate

In crystal form.

We put it in, and it didn’t work worth a damn. Butm, as far as I know, we’re the only people who ever tried to use real Dilithium Crystals for spacecraft Propulsion.

The tricorder

Nope. Those predate Star Trek by a number of decades.

But what about doors that make that “shhhh-uck” noise? :stuck_out_tongue:

Not life imitating Star Trek, but in scientific circles the pointy end of a stegosaurus really is called the “Thagomizer.”

Dr McCoy’s sick bay bed [PDF]. More info here.


While we haven’t yet gotten up to taking a person from point A to point B, we have transported photons and othr sub-atomic (and maybe even atomic) particles.

The first thing I thought would qualify turns out to have been proposed prior to the series. The Hypospray looks like it was originally done in the 40s.

While used in SF for a while (Asimov used positrons for his robotic brains starting in the early 40s), I wonder if Star Trek expanded the general public’s awareness about antimatter.

And without Star Trek, we would lack the joke “wiping out Klingons around Uranus”. I don’t know what kind of a world that would be, but I wouldn’t want to live in it. :smiley:

Not to piss on anyone’s cornflakes but the future didn’t always turn out like we expected and yes, I have a copy of The Dilbert future. One of the things that always struck me was the way the shuttle landing area was arranged so that one that didn’t stop on it’s own had to crash into a barrier. This is approximately how aircraft carriers were designed until the British got wise and designed an angled deck. Perhaps the barricade crashes were more dramatic but ST copied an already absolete design.

If you’re thinking of quantum teleportation… no, we haven’t.

red shirt = death

How would an angled deck help slow down a runaway shuttle on a starship?

Actually, the British getting their hinder areas handed to them as a result of red shirt wearing (during the American Revolution) predated Star Trek.

Re: aircraft carrier design: look at how the new Battlestar: Galactica’s doing it. It has two hangar bays, which are open at each end. If a Viper (one-man craft) doesn’t stop while landing, it’ll just come out at the other end and have to try again. And the pilot would probably be the laughingstock of the ship for a week, but still.

I have read that the navy incorporated several Star Trek like design features into the bridge of the Knox class destroyers, most notably the swivel mounted central command chair.



And Here say we have.

Granted, it’s not anything liek a Star Trek transporter, but they do convey the information about one photon’s quantum state to another’s, in essense making the first photon in the second’s location, and by getting the information from the first, thery changed it so it’s no loinger the same first photon.

Good posts.

Today’s PDAs are a lot like the pad and styluses used in the original ST series, and a bit like PADDs and tricorders.

Uhura’s little earpiece thingie is a lot like the teeny phones that hang from your ear and are rapidly becoming more popular.

A columnist noted a few years ago that the popularity of warmups and gym clothes recalls the original velour uniforms.

Some of the SDI research projects bore a strong resemblance to phasers and photon torpedoes; ditto some of the nonlethal crowd-control technologies now being researched by the Pentagon.

Which all means exactly what I said: you haven’t teleported a particle, you “teleported” a quantum state. You might as well claim that a telephone teleports my vocal cords.