Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Set phasers to stun: Star Trek turns 50

Star Trek blasted audiences with important social messages and fired up enthusiasm for space exploration and science. Among the iconic characters in the series are, from left: Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Captain Kirk (William Shatner) and Montgomery “Scotty” Scott (James Doohan). 

Sidney Perkowitz, Emory emeritus professor of physics, wrote an article for Nature about the impacts of Star Trek on science, technology and society as the science fiction series turns 50. Below is an excerpt:

“Half a century ago, in September 1966, the first episode of Star Trek aired on the US television network NBC. NASA was still three years short of landing people on the Moon, yet the innovative series was soon zipping viewers light years beyond the Solar System every week. After a few hiccups it gained cult status, along with the inimitable crew of the starship USS Enterprise, led by Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner). It went into syndication and spawned 6 television series up to 2005; there are now also 13 feature films, with Star Trek Beyond debuting in July this year.

“Part of Star Trek's enduring magic is its winning mix of twenty-third-century technology and the recognizable diversity and complexity enshrined in the beings — human and otherwise — created by the show's originator Gene Roddenberry and his writers. As Roddenberry put it, ‘We stress humanity.’ The series wore its ethics on its sleeve at a time when the Vietnam War was raging and anti-war protests were proliferating, along with racial tensions that culminated in major US urban riots in 1967–68.”

Read the whole article in Nature.

Fantastic light: From science fiction to fact

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