Plausibility of Star Trek Tech.

I have to tell you, I have been an avid trekkie all my life, just like my parents. The only one I never followed was Deep Space Nine. Too depressing. Too much angst. What more can I say?

Anyways, I have wondered for some time how plausible some of the forecasted technology is in the series. Are some some day possible? And are some, as far as we know, never possible? (I think I heard somewhere that matter-energy transporters may be impossible, due to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. But in the series, the employ something called a Heisenberg compensator. Is that possible?)

Here is what I hope at least is a partial list. More may follow:

[li]Matter Replicator[/li][li]Matter-energy transporter[/li][li]Warp (i.e., FTL) drive[/li][li]Stasis field[/li][li]Holodeck (i.e., fully-imersive virtual reality[/li][li]Phaser (i.e., laser-like weapon, in the palm of the hand)[/li][li]Etc.?[/li][/ul]

Actually, the one I wonder about is the stasis field. A medical device that creates suspended animation, apparently by stopping all motion IIRC. Just how plausible is THAT?

Thank you all in advance for your kindly replies:).


MISSED EDIT WINDOW: Also, I have wondered about the plausibility of fully-immersive SIMULATED reality. And they did cover that briefly on the pilot with Menagerie 1 and 2 and with the Thaw on Voyager I believe you could say.

FWIW, here is the Wikipedia list:

Star Trek technologies:
[ul] [li]Cloaking device[/li][li]Holodeck[/li][li]Replicator[/li][li]Tractor beam[/li][li]Transporter[/li][li]Universal translator[/ul][/li]

Everything that you have mentioned is incredibly highly implausible to the extreme–starting with the “a bowl of alphabet soup spontaneously spelling out the lyrics to any given song from Labyrinth” level and reaching the “violates everything currently know about physics” level. Star Trek is as plausable as…um…Labyrinth.

Oh, I dunno; replicators don’t seem all that far-off, really. We have 3-D printers that can theoretically print food, and can print guns. They don’t make these things out of pure energy, though.

Warp drive is impossible according to our current understanding of the universe. Star Trek’s explanation is that there’s this thing called subspace in which the light-speed speed limit doesn’t apply.

There is a huge gap between being able to squeeze globs of melted plastic out of a tube and being able to recreate arbitrary organic compounds an atom at a time. A 3D printer is one of these–a replicator is filling the bag with water and dirt and squirting out a fully baked cake

I’d say the most plausible Star Trek tech would be the universal translator. We’ve already got tech like Google Translate that does a fairly decent job. It’s not nearly as much of a stretch as something like transporters or warp drive.

The first thing to say is that of course whole books have been written on this topic e.g. this one and this one.

Star trek wasn’t necessarily intended to be a realistic prediction of the future, and so the tech runs the gamut of things that have already been realized (e.g. communicators) to things that seem impossible (transporter), and everything inbetween.

However, my personal prediction is that much of the technology of a few centuries’ time will look implausible to us. So it’s both true that the tech in star trek is ridiculous and it’s a reasonable picture of a possible future direction.

Yes, and also there have been papers published on how warp could be used to travel FTL (yes, I’m thinking Alcubierre). Of course there are many, many problems with creating such a device and if the universe doesn’t contain exotic matter, we’re SOL. But certainly you can suspend disbelief that one day humans can do something like this.

A friend of mine and I once determined that the ST universe was dependent on about six or seven fundamental breakthroughs of which, aside from fusion power, we’d be lucky to get any one in the next three hundred years. Essentially it’s a universe that, in risk players parlance, rolled all sixes.

Although, I do think that the Cloaking device and the force field might be almost in the current state of the art. Of course, we’d never use the latter for confinement cells because practically speaking it would never be cheaper than iron bars.

In the sense of a fluentish system of instant machine translation between multiple known languages, yes, that is plausible. To learn a new language after hearning 5 words? No, that isn’t.

I’m responding on my miniaturized communication device that can translate dozens of languages.

Sent from my HTC U11 using Tapatalk

Try giving it a language where the rules *haven’t *been programmed into the system based on thousands of hours of human effort. Something from a language family unrepresented in its database. Plug in a block of Warao and have your miniaturized commucations device translate it.
The key element of the Universal Translator is that it is a universal translator–you meet up with someone who speaks a language unrelated to anything ever encountered, and the device instantly learns it. This isn’t going to happen.

I just like the way their communication devices lack encryption, so they have to rely on clever wordplay.

I always assumed the Universal Translator was an interface between two computer systems – both have the same function: translate sounds into words like contemporary software does. Convert the words into definitions, like contemporary software does. Email definition to other computer. Other computer does the reverse.

'Course that just adds different problems. How does sarcastic tone, snide facial expressions, and other duplicity translate for the various Federation, Klingon and Romulan languages, when even on contemporary Earth, they’re different across nationalities?

I always like the actor playing the Klingon Gowron. You could never tell what he was thinking – his face was always a blank slate, no matter what he was saying. Don’t know if it was the actor or if the mask was too restricting for him to show expression.

Bryan and Darren at the Dope.

Arkon, his sails unfurled.

One of the big problems with the transporter is stated to be the shear number of atoms to analyze and then re-arrange at a different location. Well beyond even today’s vast-yet-cheap storage devices. But what about if we Jpegged people, man? That should really cut down the number of individual atoms needed. I mean, one type of skin cell is like another - boom, we just saved 10 ^ 100 calculations.


That could work between two advanced civilizations (assuming both had developed effective “basic primers” to get their computer systems to learn from each other) but the various crews are always meeting new low-tech species and members of new high-tech species minus hardware–and the Universal Translator still works (except where a plot point demands that it doesn’t, as referenced by AncientHumanoid–Shacka, the eyes rolled!)

What about the stasis field?;):slight_smile:

It was established in “Metamorphosis” that the Universal Translator is essentially a mind reader. There are certain concepts, like Male and Female, that are common to all forms of sentient life. The UT detects brainwaves, selects the concepts it recognizes, and provides the necessary grammar. Not 100% efficient, according to Kirk, but nothing is. It has nothing to do with computer interfaces or, in one of the most laughable items of ST: ENT “matrices.” A matrix is worth diddly-squat if you have no a priori knowledge of the target language, as Egyptologists working without the Rosetta Stone knew well.

Speaking as a professional translator of more than 30 years experience, I can also tell you computer-generated translations are almost always pure crap.

As far as phasers go, it seems to me the main problem would be finding an energy source strong enough to power the device and yet safe enough to store in the hand grip (what Captain Tracey was talking about when he demanded extra “power packs” in “The Omega Glory”). What kind of material is capable of doing this? Obviously none that we know of today.