User:Vtaylor/CIS2/Star Trek technologies/

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Star Trek Technologies

Star Trek technologies, as the name itself implies, are technologies that are inspired or taken from the Star Trek series. When it was first aired as a TV show in 1966, many of the technologies and equipment used were way ahead of their time. However, now, at the beginning of the 21st century, a lot of the technologies presented during the fictitious TV show are making their way into reality, from weapons to medical devices to different forms of transportation.


In the Star Trek universe, the main weapons used by infantry are phasers, which are similar to lasers. While there are still pistols and machine guns, the trademark weapon remembered by most people that have watched the Star Trek series would be the phaser.

While on their ship, however, they can fire proton torpedoes which are missiles that are loaded with antimatter, which would, in theory, break down matter. However, given the high costs of creating antimatter, it can be safely assumed that proton torpedoes won't come into existence for quite a while.

Additionally, as is the case with most science fiction movies, ships usually have some type of force field that is able to negate enemy attacks for a while, keeping harm at bay.

What technologies will we see in the next 3 to 5 years?

In recent years, the military has been trying to create a weapon that could incapacitate someone without harming them much like the Star Trek phaser could stun an enemy. The gun, dubbed the PHASR (Personnel Halting and Stimulation Response), essentially temporarily blinds the target, and, while there has not been much else released about it. It is hoped to be a safe alternative to weapons that would harm. Similar to the PHASR, is the already in production taser that emits a electric shock to incapacitate a target.

Likewise, the Trophy Active Protection System is a shielding device designed to protect tanks against RPGs and other anti-tank weapons. It aims to shoot down any incoming missiles or projectiles before it becomes a realistic threat. The Trophy system, like the PHASR, is still waiting to see mass production and will likely be something widely used in the field.

U.S. Scientists are developing Star Trek type ray guns to deter unwanted individuals from the Department of Energy Nuclear sites. Based on millimeter-waverays and called Active Denial Technology (ADT), these wave directed weapons can heat human skin to unbearable levels without causing burning or other effects. The beam will penetrate only approximately 1/64 of an inch into human skin, but will still trigger the nerves to send a message of pain. Test subjects indicate the sensation was intense, similar to touching a hot frying pan. Because, of limited exposure and intensity, the skin is not harmed.

Negative or Positive?

The weapon will likely be a positive addition to apprehending enemies without having to actually harm them, making it a positive invention/technology overall. In fact, the idea of blinding or dazzling is already being utilized outside of the actual weapon, which only goes to show its usefulness.

The Trophy system can be seen as both a positive and a negative depending on which side of the fight one looks at. The idea behind it is to protect tanks from counter measures. However, should both sides utilize it, then wars will inevitably come to a stand still.

The ADT is a positive development in providing a deterrent that will not harm the perpetrator.

How will this affect us?

For the most part, unless you are involved in the military, this won't affect you very much if at all. Many of these will only be used for military purposes and will probably never be seen by civilians.

Who is driving the development?

In theory, the general population is given that it is mostly being researched and tested by the military. In other words, part of the taxes we pay as citizens goes towards funding and researching new technologies such as the PHASR and the Trophy system that will aid the military.


In Star Trek, since the beginning of the TV series broadcast, there has been a need for treating health problems and wounds. To diagnose, they would use the multipurpose tricorder to find the problems inflicting the patient. When the problem had been found, they could use the hypospray to inject medication directly into the patients blood streams without requiring usage of a needle (the hypospray was created for the Star Trek series because the TV show hosts wouldn't allow actual hypodermic needles on the set).

What technologies will we see in the next 3 to 5 years?

While there is no specific machine we currently use to diagnose problems, many of the new machines that we have nowadays like the CAT scan and xrays that can help doctors in defining the problem. Additionally, a new technology that has yet to be named is currently in development that will use ultrasound waves to aid doctors in helping patients.

A new technology called the Standoff Patient Triage Tool or (S.P.T.T.) is similar to the triquarter used in Star Trek as far as taking vital signs is concerned. The S.P.T.T. cannot diagnose and treat as the triquarter. It can take key physiological readings of pulse, body temperature and respiration from several feet away. The technology used is Laser Doppler Vibrometry. A vibrometer measures the velocity and displacement of vibrating objects then converts that into a meaningful measurement for emergency medical responders.

As a real world example of the hypospray, the SonoPrep seeks to also allow for injections of medication without using a needle. This, like the real world tricorder, uses ultrasonic waves to open up microscopic pores in the patients skin that then allow the medication to pass directly into the blood stream.

An non-invasive needle-free system is being devised that uses light to measure pH and oxygen. This prototype is called Venus and is being developed by Dr. Babs Soller of the University of Massachusetts medical school. The device would be used for astronauts and space travel and for critically ill patients. Inferred light is used the blood vessel will reflect light back to a sensor which then can determine metabolic rate, tissue oxygen and pH.

Negative or Positive?

While there are minor negative points to this, the general public opinion for this should be positive given that both the tricorder and the SonoPrep will be very useful in diagnosing and saving lives, as well as the S.P.T.T.

How will this affect us?

In a few words: diagnosed and painless injections. Also, faster vital signs to help determine who needs help first. No needles means less chance of infection and more patient comfort.

Who is driving the development?

The two driving forces in the development of these technologies would be the University of Washington for the real world tricorder and a Professor Joseph Krost at the Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, Israel.


And last, but not least, travel. Much like the title of the TV series suggest, Star Trek is a trek among the stars. And, while satellites and probes have been sent out and a few manned space trips to the moon have happened, none of this is really close to what is presented in the Star Trek universe.

The most notable form of travel is their warp drive, which allows for speeds faster than light. While it seems like an impossibility, scientists claim otherwise, and, while it won't become a reality for quite a while, it will happen eventually.

The transporter, created because of budget problems for the actual show, is something that is widely used. Much like a teleporter, it allows for just what its name suggests: transporting matter over a distance.

What technologies will we see in the next 3 to 5 years?

Space travel is becoming a greater focus as mankind tries to push it's way to the stars. Space travel, while not something that will happen within the next 5 years, is something that is being researched and advocated for.

On the other hand, the transporter is a reality already, if only on a small scale. Scientists have been able to successfully transfer atoms over a small distance. However some complications are present given that transporting a human would require studying every atom in the human body (10^27 along with every proton and electron) and then recreate it at another place.

Beginnings of a tractor beam on a nanoscale was reported by a research team at Cornell University in January of 2009. A beam of light push through a small channel stopped free floating DNA molecules and non-particles from moving and trapping them. Although this was completed on an extremely small scale, it may be the beginnings of stopping, trapping and then transporting to a desired location.

A device that can make something invisible by cloaking is moving closer to reality. Development of metameterials, a fabricated composite, guide electromagnetic waves around an object to emerge on the other side making it seem they have passed through empty space. There are numerous applications of such a device such as, more powerful lenses and improved wireless communication.

Negative or Positive?

The presence of any of the things mentioned here would certainly change the world as we know it (and space). While there are always both sides to things, the positives of technological advancements certainly outweigh any negatives that could be put forth. The presence of warp drives and transporters would certainly allow for faster travel and space travel. While space travel is still something that can't be concretely described as a negative or positive thing, a transporter that could instantly mail packages or send people to work or home would definitely be a positive addition as it would increase convenience.

How will this affect us?

While space travel, as far off as it may be, seems like something that will be widely used, given the costs of it, it will mostly likely become something only the rich can afford at first. Transporters as well, given that the cost of production will be incredibly high before it drops, if it even drops. As such, though the technologies may appear soon, it is safe to assume that the majority of the world will not see it or be affected by it for many more years to come.

Who is driving the development?

Currently, the people who are probably the furthest in terms of research and success with creating a transporter than can move atoms and particles would be researches at the University of Copenhagen.

New Innovations

There are several innovative technologies that have come to pass that, at their beginnings, mesmerized us of what the future could hold, as we watched with excitement the “next generation” battle the evils of the world and try to coexist with other intelligent forms of life. Such was the case with the cellular phone, which ranked among the top ten inventions known as the Star Trek era. Other inventions that have become a part of our society and their intended benefits are described at [Christensen, Bill. Top Ten Star Trek Tech].

Global Lifestyle Effects

Telecommunication as we know it today bares little resemblance to its predecessor. The phones of yesterday, which were party lines connected by switchboard operators, have been replaced by a tiny device that weighs less then 3ozs and can fit in the palm of one's hand. The cellular phone or mobile phone has taken the place of the landline phone as our society moves closer and closer to it’s realization of a society always on the go. Globally, mobile phone technologies have served as a life line in many countries and are “sparking economic hope and growth". Take for example, a small business woman in Muruguru, Africa who, prior to mobile phones, “had to walk several hours to the nearest town to buy yarn or meet with her customers”. This business woman, Grace Wachira, now states “I’m saving time, I’m saving money.” In as much as cellular phones have impacted the lives of individuals, economists reporting on the area state that the effects of this communications explosion is big [Ewing, Jack. Upwardly Mobile in Africa].

Other parts of Africa also boast of the positive impact cellular phone service has made on their economy. In South Africa, the rise in cellphone services has led to a growth in the banking industry. [Africa's Cellphone Boom Creates a Base for low-cost Banking]

Effects on the Economy

While other countries around the world are experiencing economic growth due in part to the increase in mobile phone availability and usage here at home, the news does not appear as promising. Article after article attest that cellular phone sales in the US are on the decline. One report indicates that in quarter one of 2008, consumers in the US bought “31 million phones spending $2.7 billion”. Furthermore, indicating a “22% decline in shipments and 7% decline in revenue from Q1 2007”. What could be the cause of this decline in an industry that is seeing rapid growth in other countries? One leader in the industry Virgin Mobile USA reports that customers were discontinuing services “because they could not afford it anymore”, [Frommer, Dan. Economy Burns Cellphone Sales].

Others, such as Allen Hepner, scholar at the New Millennium Research Council, see the current recession as the reason mobile phone service is “…undergoing fundamental changes that will just get bigger as the economic downturn deepens”, and also states that “the era of cell phone penny pinching is officially here” [Perez, Marin. Economy May Lead to Cellphone Penny Pinching].


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Medicine in Star Trek.

Smallman, Wayne. How close are we to Star Trek technology?


Choi, Charles Q. Reality Check: The Science of 'Star Trek'.

Knight, Will. US military sets laser PHASRs to stun.

Trophy Active Protection System.

Joel. Life Imitates Star Trek: SonoPrep Needle-less Injection.

Hickey, Hannah. Star Trek medical device uses ultrasound to seal punctured lungs.

Triage Technology with a Star Trek Twist

Thomas, Brad. Stra Trek Technology Offers Noninvasive Monitor

Jaques, Robert. US Aims Star Trek Ray Guns at Nuclear Sites http://www.vnunet/news/2139292/aims-star-trek-ray-guns-nuclear

Nano "Tractor Beam" Traps DNA.

Next Generation Cloaking Device Demonstrated.