‘Star Trek’ Tech: How Long Before We Really Have Transporters, Tricorders and Holodecks?
— M. Dunne
Let's not stop our nerd-out there. Let's go full-on dweeb for a second. And why not? "Star Trek: Into Darkness" debuted this week.
To answer your question — and discuss other "Star Trek" technologies ranging from tricorders to photon torpedoes — we wrangled David Saltzberg, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles — and an advisor for the sitcom "The Big Bang Theory."
That's right. We're giving you yet another "Big Bang"-on-"Star-Trek" mashup. Bazinga me up, Scotty.
We asked Saltzberg about your particular hangup first — transporter beams.
"We've known since the 19th century that light has pressure," Saltzberg points out. "You can make tweezers out of light. People actually are using light to grab things."
In other words: A transporter sometime in the future? Not a completely crazy idea.
But what about...
Unless, by then, we have...time travel?
"Then you have other senses: smell, taste and touching. That's more problematic from a scientific point of view.
"I would imagine that it, in the future, it would probably be easier just to access the brain directly, delivering the tactile cues, the smells, the tastes and the auditory cues, by pumping that information directly into the brain, eventually."
(Photo: REX USA)
(Geek bonus points: Just last year the brainiacs behind the X Prize announced a competition to, yes, come up with a real, live, working tricorder. This is going to happen, people!)