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By Charlotte Connelly on

The science of ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’

Charlotte Connelly from the Science Museum spoke to Sky News about whether science has inspired Star Trek, or whether Star Trek has inspired science.

This week marks the release of Star Trek Into Darkness, a science fiction extravaganza which is full of fantastic technologies and science way beyond our abilities today.

Star Trek Into Darkness

I was invited over to the Sky News studios in west London to talk about whether science has inspired the Star Trek TV programmes and films, and indeed whether Star Trek has inspired science.

We spoke about how strange the world of Star Trek must have appeared to audiences when it was first released in the mid sixties.

Trying to put myself in their shoes reminded me that in the 1960s, atomic energy had been realised, many businesses had computers, and the first steps toward the internet were being taken in the form of a network called ARPANET.

Those technologies really were cutting edge, so although technological developments like the computer were rooted in the scientific knowledge of that era, they were not a part of most people’s everyday experiences.

Inside the Sky News studios, image courtesy of Charlotte Connelly
Inside the Sky News studios (image courtesy of Charlotte Connelly)

Star Trek has also inspired people in their engineering work.

Martin Cooper, the man who made the first mobile phone call, has said that he was inspired by James T. Kirk talking on his communicator. However, in a recent report about science fiction and technology, Jon Turney wonders whether referring to the communicator was really just a good way to explain to other people how the technology might work.

And what about the Star Trek ‘predictions’ which currently only exist in the world of film and television, but might still come true?

I think we might be heading towards an even more connected world, with new machine to machine (or M2M) technologies just around the corner. These will allow constant monitoring of all sorts of things—meaning that your computer really will be able to keep tabs on lots of different environments, from your home to your spaceship!

This is probably the closest I'll ever get to a Hollywood red carpet! (Image courtesy of Sky News)
This is probably the closest I’ll ever get to a Hollywood red carpet! (Image courtesy of Sky News)

Speaking to Sky News was really good fun, I enjoyed letting my inner sci-fi geek out. My interview appeared on the Sky News iPad app, alongside interviews with Trekkies and the cast and crew of Star Trek Into Darkness.

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