One of the most successful science fiction programs of all time is Star Trek. The original television series was first broadcast from 1966 to 1969. This sparked the “Trekkie” phenomenon, with a total of six television series and eleven movies as of 2009. A large part of Star Trek’s ongoing popularity with science fiction fans is the futuristic gadgets found in the various episodes. Although transporters, time-travel machines, and the like are not currently feasible, other equipment seems viable and may be developed during our lifetimes. Consider the advanced hologram technology on the ships’ “holodecks,” which allowed characters to create simulated realities. Scientists are working to develop similar technology today and Tele-immersion is one such application. Teleimmersion will create a simulated virtual room that allows people to come together and interact without leaving their own physical location. In fact, many of the Star Trek technologies that seemed dubious or impossible only a few decades ago now are available for use in the real world.
Probably the most notable of these gadgets was the handheld ﬂip-open communicator, often used by Captain Kirk to summon help when he and his crew were in danger on some alien world. It allowed portable and lightweight communication wherever a person was. The appearance of this device started Martin Cooper and his team at Motorola thinking about how to develop a mobile phone. The first mobile phones were hardly convenient: They weighed 2.2 pounds, and the batteries allowed only thirty-five minutes of talk time. However, once the technology was introduced, it advanced and miniaturized until it was developed into the small cell phones we have today, which not only allow voice communications but also allow access to all of the textual and graphic riches of the Internet. As a result, cell phones are now commonplace, with at least 85 per cent of adults in the U.S. and the U.K. owning one.
A number of other electronic devices from Star Trek are also now commonplace. Many of the Star Tek computerized gadgets featured touch screens, including the Starship Enterprise’s controls. Nowadays, touch screens appear on everything from cell phones to smart refrigerators. Our modern e-book readers and Black.erries were also foretold by the small computerized tablets that the Star Trek crew used for reading and storing data. And just as the Star Trek crew could always find its location when on missions to foreign planets by using scanners, we can now do this on Earth by using a GPS (Global Positioning System) device.
Some of the medical technologies on Star Trek have also become reality. In the show, brain surgery was performed by attaching a gadget to someone’s head, which healed internal injuries without cutting into the brain. There is now a similar procedure called gamma-ray surgery, where a number of beams of gamma radiation are precisely focused at a single target, for example a brain tumour. This dissolves and eliminates the diseased area. Since the procedure is noninvasive, there is little pain and much less chance for infection. Star Trek doctors also diagnosed patients using the versatile handheld tricorder scanners. (In fact, the Star Trek tricorder seemed to do everything, from checking a planet’s atmosphere to diagnosing a broken engine!) Modern patients are scanned in essentially the same way, by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and CAT scans, although the equipment is much larger than a handheld device. Even the crusty Dr. McCoy would be impressed.
Another Star Trek technology that appears to be within reach is the universal communicator A number of translators already are available on the Internet, and they do a fair (although far from perfect) job of translating written texts. But translating speech is much more difficult. People speak with a wide variety of dialects and accents, which current voice recognition systems simply cannot cope with. For the best results, the software must be trained to each speaker’s individual voice. However, improvements gradually are being made, and it may be years rather than decades before sufficiently powerful voice recognition software makes simultaneous oral translations possible.
With advances such as these, it is fair, exciting, and perhaps a bit frightening to ask, how far behind can Mr. Spock’s telepathic “mind-meld” communication be?
Trek to walk a long distance, usually over land such as hills, mountains or forests: We spent the day trekking through forests and over mountains. spark to cause the start of something, especially an argument or fighting: This proposal will almost certainly spark another countrywide debate about how to organize the school system. The recent interest rises have sparked new problems for the Government. feasible able to be made, done or achieved: With the extra resources, the scheme now seems feasible. [+ to infinitive] It may be feasible to clone human beings, but is it ethical? viable able to continue to exist as or develop into a living being: There is a continuing debate about the age at which a human fetus can be considered viable. fetus (US for foetus) a young human being or animal before birth, after the organs have started to develop dubious thought not to be completely true or not able to be trusted: These claims are dubious and not scientifically proven. He has been associated with some dubious characters. ﬂip when something turns over quickly or repeatedly: a flip of a coin The acrobats were doing somersaults and flips (= jumping and turning their bodies over in the air). somersault a rolling movement or jump, either forwards or backwards, in which you turn over completely, with your body above your head, and finish with your head on top again: She was so happy she turned three somersaults on the lawn. ﬂip-open crew a group of people who work together, especially all those who work on and operate a ship, aircraft, etc: an ambulance/lifeboat crew a TV/film/camera crew The aircraft has/carries a crew of seven. portable light and small enough to be easily carried or moved: a portable radio/telephone/computer mobile convenient suitable for your purposes and needs and causing the least difficulty: Our local shop has very convenient opening hours. A bike's a very convenient way of getting around. [+ that] It's very convenient that you live near the office. [+ to infinitive] I find it convenient to be able to do my banking by phone. What time would it be convenient for me to come round? batteries device that produces electricity to provide power for radios, cars, etc: a rechargeable battery a battery-operated hair dryer refrigerator a piece of kitchen equipment which uses electricity to preserve food at a cold temperature: Don't forget to put the milk back in the refrigerator. tablets a thin flat often square piece of a hard material such as wood, stone or metal: The poem was engraved on a tablet of stone. UK a tablet of soap a small computer bigger than a smart phone with a touch screen Sumsung/Apple tablet mission an important job, especially a military one, that someone is sent somewhere to do: Your mission is to isolate the enemy by destroying all the bridges across the river. a peace/rescue/fact-finding mission global relating to the whole world: a global catastrophe/problem dissolve (of a solid) to be absorbed by a liquid, especially when mixed, or (of a liquid) to absorb a solid: Dissolve two spoons of powder in warm water. Nitric acid will dissolve most animal tissue. magnetic with the power of a magnet magnet an object that is able both to attract iron and steel objects and also push them away dialect a form of a language that people speak in a particular part of a country, containing some different words and grammar, etc: a regional dialect The poem is written in northern dialect. accent the way in which people in a particular area, country or social group pronounce words: He's got a strong French/Scottish accent. She's French but she speaks with an impeccable English accent. He speaks with a broad/heavy/strong/thick Yorkshire accent. I thought I could detect a slight West Country accent. impeccable perfect, with no problems or bad parts: impeccable taste/manners/credentials His English is impeccable. cope with to deal successfully with a difficult situation: It must be difficult to cope with three small children and a job. The tyres on my car don't cope very well on wet roads. He had so much pressure on him in his job that eventually he just couldn't cope. software the instructions which control what a computer does; computer programs: He's written a piece of software which calculates your tax returns for you. hardware (computer) the physical and electronic parts of a computer, rather than the instructions it follows oral spoken; not written: an oral agreement/exam verbal spoken rather than written: a verbal agreement/description/explanation Airport officials received a stream of verbal abuse from angry passengers whose flights had been delayed. mind meld The Vulcan mind meld or mind probe was a telepathic link between two individuals. It allowed for an intimate exchange of thoughts, thus in essence, enabling the participants to become one mind, sharing consciousness in a kind of gestalt. beams gamma ray a beam of gamma radiation noninvasive antonym of invasive invasive moving into all areas of something and difficult to stop: an invasive disease They treated the cancer with non-invasive methods/surgery (= not cutting into the body). resonate to produce, increase or fill with sound, by vibrating (= shaking) objects which are near: His voice resonated in the empty church. The noise of the bell resonated through the building. resonance magnetic resonance This poem has many resonances (= connected thoughts and memories) for me. crusty a young person who does not live in a way that society considers normal, typically with untidy or dirty clothes and hair, and no regular job or permanent home: Lots of crusties came into town for the festival. foretold past and past participle of foretell. foretell to state what is going to happen in the future: [+ question word] He was a sixteenth-century prophet who foretold how the world would end. commonplace happening frequently or often seen or experienced and so not considered to be special: Home computers are increasingly commonplace. summon to order someone to come to or be present at a particular place, or to officially arrange a meeting of people: General Rattigan summoned reinforcements to help resist the attack. HUMOROUS I'm afraid I'll have to go - I'm being summoned by my wife. On July 20th, the council was summoned to hear an emergency report on its finances. holodecks The holodeck is a fictional plot device from the television series Star Trek. It is presented as a staging environment in which participants may engage with different virtual reality environments. From a storytelling point of view, it permits the introduction of a greater variety of locations and characters that might not otherwise be possible, such as events and persons in the Earth's past, and is often used as a way to pose philosophical questions.
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