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More Star Trek, Please

Posted by Matt Power

Feb 14, 2014 11:34:33 AM

Some people can’t stand science fiction. When you ask them why, they say it’s too unrealistic, and they just “can’t get into it.” I understand that we all come to the table with different biases and beliefs—I never could watch The West Wing, for example. The idea of the country being led by people with integrity and a sense of responsibility to the public just seemed too far-fetched.

For a few minutes, I’d like to defend science fiction. Can I convince you unbelievers that the world of Star Trek may be far more “real” than you imagine? The line between science fiction and reality is becoming more blurred every day. If you’re not familiar with the work of physicist Michio Kaku, for example, you may want to look him up. He’s one of the theorists who came up with string theory—the idea that the universe is constructed not of matter at all, but of infinitely small vibrating strings. In other words, we’re all made of music. Read his book, Hyperspace, and you’ll soon realize that most of us barely scratch the surface of what we think is reality.

Kaku says almost anything you’ve ever seen on Star Trek is theoretically possible: time travel, teleporters, interstellar transport, and so on. We just lack certain key ingredients, such as the ability to harness a black hole, or produce as much power as a star.

Back to the USS Enterprise. The reason the short-lived Star Trek TV show became a global hit is not because of its gadgets and technology, but because it represents a future where human beings survive their own success. In the Star Trek future, the home base (Earth) is depicted as a utopia, balanced between technology and nature, where wars are infrequent, and the cycle of production and consumption has become largely ho-hum. If you want something, you reach out your hand and a device fabricates it for you.

It’s hard to imagine an environmentally destructive orgy of consumption such as “Black Friday” taking place in Star Trek’s universe, where all eyes are on the stars, not the big screen TV. Everyone lives well, leaving time for pondering the mysteries of the heavens.

Positive thoughts result in positive outcomes. But the opposite is true, as well. Most of today’s TV shows focus on serial killers, gangsters and flesh-eating zombies. Popular media fuels despair and surrender, not hope and promise. In their “reality,” humans are doomed to scarcity and decline.

I prefer the Star Trek future. And as you’ll see in our January issue, it’s a world that new ideas and technology have put within our reach. It’s not too late to change the way we live, to shut off our televisions and work toward a world of solar-powered vehicles and green cities. But we’ll have to start thinking bigger—and boldly go where no one has gone before.

 

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