It may seem fanciful to imagine a world in which you can actually say, “Beam me up, Scotty,” and be transported through a pillar of light, but according to William Shatner, a world full of the sci-fi technology we saw in Star Trek is “not that far-fetched.”
During a panel on the plausibility of science fiction concepts at Smithsonian magazine’s “Future Is Here” festival Friday, the former Captain Kirk addressed the audience about how much of the technology from his late-’60s Star Trek series is not as out-of-this-world as it once seemed.
“It’s not that far-fetched,” Shatner said. “Although a lot of the concepts in science fiction are absurd to our Newtonian minds, anything is possible because of the new language of quantum physics.”
Certainly, some of the tech shown in the original Star Trek series has already entered our everyday lives in the 50 years since premiering. Back in 1966, Kirk’s communicator, Uhura’s bluetooth, and even the Enterprise’s automatic sliding doors seemed revolutionary, but now the prevalance of smartphones and automatic doors make these pieces of technology seem archaic. According to Shatner, the military has even based some of their vessels on the Enterprise’s design.
“The Navy did come in and look at some of the ergonomics of the bridge, and apparently copied it,” he said. “A captain of a vessel not too long ago [said] some of the bridge stuff on his ship was designed after what our designers had [done].”
But what about one of the show’s most ambitious technological mainstays: teleportation. Of course, we don’t currently have a technology that allows human beings to transport themselves instantaneously through space, but Shatner seems hopeful that science is making advances in that realm of research.
“Can you transport all the molecules in a human being? Apparently, it’s impossible. Can you transport a replica of that person? Possible, but the amount of computer energy and space is overwhelming,” Shatner explained.
Technologically speaking, we’re still not done exploring the final frontier just yet.