Tag Archives | Star Trek

To Boldly Go to There: The Proto-Post Scarcity Economy of Star Trek

Pic: Desilu Prouctions (C)

Pic: Desilu Prouctions (C)

“The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force of our lives. We work to better ourselves and the rest of humanity.” – Captain Jean-Luc Picard

Rick Webb has written a fantastic piece about the economics of Star Trek, and then speculates about whether or not we could begin to incorporate some of these notions…

“Take a mental journey for a moment with me: what if, one day, technology reaches the point that a small number of humans — say, 10 million — can produce all of the food, shelter and energy that the race needs. This doesn’t seem like insanely wishful thinking, given current trends. There’s no rational reason why the advances in robotics, factories, energy and agriculture couldn’t continue unabated for long periods of time. Of course I’m not saying they will, but rather, they could.

“So, then, take that journey. What, then, of labor? In today’s terms, a ‘healthy’ economy now is one at or near full employment.

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Hershey Developing 3D ‘Printable Foods’

HersheyCoContinuing with the meme that any technology Gene Roddenberry and the writers of Star Trek dream up eventually makes its way into our lives, Hershey and 3D Systems Corp. have announced plans for 3D printable foods, reports MarketWatch:

Hershey Co. and 3D Systems Corp. reached a multiyear joint development agreement to explore and develop ways to use 3-D printing technology to produce edible foods, including confectionary treats.

“We believe that innovation is key to delivering relevant, compelling consumer experiences with our iconic brands,” said William Papa, Hershey’s vice president and chief research and development officer. “Whether it’s creating a whole new form of candy or developing a new way to produce it, we embrace new technologies such as 3-D printing as a way to keep moving our timeless confectionery treats into the future.”

Financial terms of the deal weren’t provided.

In a widely seen report, research firm Gartner Inc. last year said the number of consumer 3-D printers globally was set to double and that combined end-user spending on the devices was expected to rise 49% during 2013.

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The Oswald Conspiracy

OswaldThe television show In Search Of is a strange little chestnut from my childhood. I knew the show’s host, Leonard Nimoy from his turn as “Spock” in Star Trek repeats, and In Search Of’s focus on unexplained phenomena, missing persons and extraterrestrial encounters was right on target for a kid who already loved Sci-Fi.

I remember being terrified by the “Bigfoot” episode of the show and equally traumatized when the program took its cameras beneath the deep green waters of Loch Ness. But, not all of the show’s subjects were so “out there.” In 1980, their “Lee Harvey Oswald” episode dramatized the circumstances surrounding the assassination of JFK, including key evidence from authors and experts along the way.

The result is an insightful portrait of the self-proclaimed “patsy” that challenges the “lone gunman” contentions of the Warren Report. The centerpiece of the show is a Dallas police dictaphone recording that proves that there were four shots in Dealey Plaza that day in 1963.… Read the rest

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NSA Chief’s “Information Dominance Center” Designed To Look Like Star Trek

ifWe are officially living in someone else’s fantasy. The Verge writes:

Foreign Policy describes NSA head Keith Alexander’s data-processing “Information Dominance Center” in Virginia as a high-tech homage to Star Trek.

Alexander reportedly had his operations center redesigned to mimic the Enterprise bridge, “complete with chrome panels, computer stations, a huge TV monitor on the forward wall, and doors that made a ‘whoosh’ sound when they slid open and closed.”

“The Center’s primary function is to enable 24-hour worldwide visualization, planning, and execution of coordinated information operations for the US Army and other federal agencies,” says a paper by designers DBI Architects. “The futuristic Commander’s console gives the illusion that one has boarded a star ship.”

The officials and lawmakers who were apparently treated to presentations at the center, however, seemed duly impressed. “Everybody wanted to sit in the chair at least once to pretend he was Jean-Luc Picard,” says an officer who helped coordinate the visits.

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Star Trek-Style Deflector Shields – Coming Soon!

Copyright 2007 Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios Inc. (Fair Use)

Copyright 2007 Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios Inc. (Fair Use)

It’s always fun to see Gene Roddenberry’s fictional devices become reality. CNN reports on the latest:

You’ve answered the call for volunteers, signed up for the Mars trip and you are looking forward to boldly going to space, the final frontier, to explore a strange new world.

But wait. Recent evidence from NASA’s Curiosity rover mission to the Red Planet has revealed that astronauts on the round-trip would be exposed to high levels of radiation from cosmic rays and high-energy particles from the sun contained in solar storms. NASA says a Mars voyager would receive a radiation dose around 100 times the average yearly exposure on Earth.

Along with all the other risks of spaceflight, this would clearly be bad for your health — and it is proving difficult to find a solution.

Eddie Semones, a radiation health expert at NASA’s Johnson Space Flight Center, told CNN that shielding to completely block the radiation danger would have to be “meters thick” and too heavy to be used aboard a spacecraft.

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Real Life Tractor Beam

Gene Roddenberry & The Star Trek Cast

Yet another one of Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek gadgets of the future now exists in the 21st Century. Via BBC News:

A real-life “tractor beam”, which uses light to attract objects, has been developed by scientists.

It is hoped it could have medical applications by targeting and attracting individual cells.

The research, published in Nature Photonics and led by the University of St Andrews, is limited to moving microscopic particles.

In science fiction programmes such as Star Trek, tractor beams are used to move much more massive objects.

It is not the first time science has aimed to replicate the feat – albeit at smaller scales.

In 2011, researchers from China and Hong Kong showed how it might be done with laser beams of a specific shape – and the US space agency Nasa has even funded a studyto examine how the technique might help with manipulating samples in space.

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SpaceX Takes Star Trek’s ‘Scotty’ (And Others) to The Final Frontier

James Doohan

Doohan at the Dryden Flight Research Center in 1967.

Aside from the news that the United States’ space program has effectively been privatized in the wake of the retirement of the Space Transportation System (Shuttle) program, this noteworthy craft was carrying the ashes of over 300 people. That’s $2,995 per gram of ashes into Earth orbit. As Clara Moskowitz writes on Space.com:

Scotty has finally been beamed up. The ashes of the actor James Doohan, who played Scotty on the 1960s television series Star Trek, were launched to space this morning (May 22nd) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The unmanned Falcon 9 blasted off at 3:44 a.m. EDT (0744 GMT) from here at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, carrying the Dragon capsule filled with cargo bound for the International Space Station. Also packed aboard the rocket was a secondary payload carrying remains from 308 people, including Doohan and Mercury program astronaut Gordon Cooper, according to ABC News and Reuters.

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How Hollywood Killed The Las Vegas Starship Enterprise

Gary Goddard, CEO of entertainment design firm The Goddard Group tells the story of how a full scale Starship Enterprise very nearly came to Las Vegas in 1992, only for Paramount Pictures' CEO Stanley Jaffe to ruin every Trekkie's wet dream:
...We learned everything we could about the Starship — its actually size and dimensions, how it would exist in “dry dock” on the planet if indeed such a situation had been possible. We imagined what it could be, and how we might achieve it. We got Ken Ball (former head of engineering at Disney’s MAPO) involved to figure out how to engineer and support it. (Ultimately we realized we would need to add some supports on the outer edge of the “disc” section due to the extremely high wind conditions in Vegas. For this we created a high tech “scaffolding structure” that gave the ship more of the appearance of being in an open-air dry dock. I have not yet located that sketch, but I’ll try to find it.) Source: The Goddard Group The “big idea” was building the ship itself at full-scale. That was the main attraction. That being said, we also knew we would have to have some kind of “show” on board...
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Star Trek Background Scenery

The Space Trek tumblr is a collection of lushly colored, eerily beautiful establishing shots from Star Trek episodes — the brief moments on the show during which the actors were out of frame. It presents a vision of a calm, pristine, simultaneously alluring and foreboding distant future, and supports my theory that most television programs would be better minus the characters.

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