The television series Star Trek — now referred to by fans as The Original Series, or TOS — cast a vision for the future that has endured for almost 50 years now. Between TOS and the spinoffs that followed — The Next Generation, Voyager, Deep Space Nine, Enterprise, and all the feature films based thereon — the world was treated to the notions of space travel at warp speed, dematerialization transportation, and even time travel.
Many of the fantastic notions from Star Trek are still firmly in the realm of science fiction. But there are some things that have found their way into our real world, right off the screen.
This is perhaps the easiest one to point out. The typical Star Trek “padd” was passed around with reports and other written communication. Now we have tablets and e-readers galore: Kindle, iPad, Android tablets, you name it.
This is a bit different than it was envisioned by Roddenberry and gang, but we do have apps that can translate from one spoken language to another, acting as a translator. Examples include Voice Translate Pro and SayHi Translate.
Vocal Computer Interface
Majel Barrett’s familiar computer voice has become the stuff of Trek canon. The computers aboard the Enterprise and every other Federation Starship could accept voice commands, answer questions, and even off suggestions.
And now we have Siri. It can’t initiate a self-destruct sequence or help you program a holonovel, yet. But Siri and its non-Apple cousins are certainly pieces in a puzzle that we no doubt will put together one day.
Believe it or not, this one actually predates Star Trek. It is called a jet injector and was used for administering vaccines to the masses without the use of needles. Nowadays they are used for insulin and other applications.
When Scotty cavalierly violated what we would later call the “temporal Prime Directive” and handed a 20th-century engineer the formula for transparent aluminum in exchange for some Plexiglas thick enough to contain some whales and sea water, most people probably just chuckled. But not everybody.
Introducing ALON, a substance that is made much like a ceramic material, with aluminum, oxygen and nitrogen. The resultant material is clear, can be polished, and is used for armor, sandwiched with regular glass and polymer. It can stop a bullet.
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