When science fiction loses the fiction

When science fiction loses the fiction

NASA has announced that its scientists are working on an early version of a “Star Trek”-like main ship computer. It’s pretty interesting in its own right, but it also says something else.

If you think about it, probably the vast majority of scientists and engineers at NASA are, or have been, Trekkies. If you figure that anyone under the age of about 50 or 60 was in the prime demographic when Star Trek first aired in 1966, i.e. teenager, then you can be pretty sure that a lot of them were influenced in some way into becoming space scientists by the show. Or even some other scifi, like Star Wars, 2001, or the like.

So as they develop new technologies, it’s not surprising that they will be similar to those things that were first imagined for TV and that made them say, “Cool!” as kids. For example, there’s an old story that when engineers are Motorola were developing the first pocket-sized cell phones, they deliberately designed them as flip-phones so they’d look like Captain Kirk’s communicator. It’s an example of life imitating art.