William Shatner: Star Trek sci-fi tech is “not that far-fetched.”

By : |April 26, 2016 0

We might not be zooming to distant worlds at warp speed, or using a “transporter” to teleport between two locations,but according to William Shatner, the 85-year-old actor best known for his portrayal of the fictional Captain James Kirk from the original “Star Trek” TV series, 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.”



The show, which debuted in 1966, exposed audiences to spaceships, intergalactic space travel and a bevy of high-tech, futuristic gadgets. Now, nearly 50 years after the show came on the air, some “Star Trek” technologies exist in real life — everything from automatic doors to cell phones to Bluetooth.

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].”

However some of the Star Trek technology still belongs to the fictional world. With regard to concepts like faster-than-light travel, teleportation and time travel, the gulf between science and science fiction seems to be as wide today as it was 50 years ago.

Presently, we don’t 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.

Similarly, time travel is a mystery, though Shatner said people are likely familiar with the sci-fi narrative that involves characters traveling through a wormhole “where time and space is curved,” creating a shortcut between two locations in space or time. But, wormholes are hypothetical features, and so far, they have not been proven to exist.

Still, Shatner said it’s fun to mull over these concepts, and science fiction should always serve as a way to stoke people’s imaginations. And from his perspective (at least when it comes to Hollywood), the future is an exciting place. “Transporting is where it’s at,” he joked.

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