Tag Archives: Star Trek

Beam Me Up, Crafty: 15 Quirky Star Trek Finds on Etsy


NASA Declares What Trekkies Knew All Along: William Shatner Rules


William Shatner is presented with NASA’s Distinguished Public Service medal by Bob Jacobs, NASA deputy associate administrator, communications, on April 27, 2014.

NASA awarded Trekkie leader William Shatner its highest civilian honor over the weekend.

While Shatner travelled across Star Trek‘s fictional galaxies on the small screen as Captain Kirk, he’s also a real-life advocate for space exploration. The original Starfleet commander received NASA’s Distinguished Public Service medal on Saturday for his work in encouraging students to study math and science.

Shatner and NASA go way back. The original Star Trek series featured several references to the space agency, and its programs were incorporated into story lines. For example, Star Trek‘s pilot episode, “The Cage,” featured a few nods to NASA spacecraft, including Mariner 2 and Pioneer 5.

Past recipients of this NASA honor include Neil de Grasse Tyson and Ed Stone, the scientist who helped launch Voyager into space.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/04/29/nasa-william-shatner-award/

Could We Build Star Trek’s Starship Enterprise?


Since its first appearance on the original “Star Trek” series in 1966, the Starship Enterprise has become a symbol for space travel. Recently, an anonymous engineer claimed that an approximation of this iconic ship could be built in the next two decades. But just how close is mankind to zipping through the stars at warp speed?

On the website BuildTheEnterprise.org, a self-proclaimed engineer who identifies himself only as “BTE-Dan” suggests that a working facsimile of the iconic ship could be built and launched over the next 20 to 30 years. The ship would require a few modifications, but would look a great deal like Captain Kirk‘s famous ship.

Built in space, the ship would never visit the surface of any moon or planet, and so would never need to reach the high speeds necessary to escape surface gravity. The engines would be powered by nuclear reactors onboard the ship, and use argon rather than xenon for propellant, saving a few hundred billion dollars in cost. As an added bonus, BTE-Dan notes that argon can be mined from the atmosphere of Mars.

Although such a ship would a lack a warp drive (the technology that allows the “Star Trek” version to zip between stars across the galaxy), it could reach the moon in three days and Mars in three months. BTE-Dan suggests it might function as a combination of a space station and a space port, allowing humans to orbit planets and moons within the solar system while using a “universal lander” to travel to and from their surfaces. Such a spaceship could house 1,000 people within its gravity wheel. The entire ship would be more than 3,000 feet (almost 1 kilometer) long, with its central disk making up nearly half its length.

According to the website, much of the technology needed to build the ship described is within our grasp, including the rotating gravity wheel, which could be suspended by electromagnets within a vacuum to eliminate mechanical wear and tear. Also easily within reach, he claims, are a 1.5 GWe (gigawatt electrical) nuclear reactor safe to carry in a spacecraft, and composite materials that would save mass, add strength and improve radiation shielding.

Design challenges
BTE-Dan describes himself as a systems and electrical engineer who has spent the past 30 years employed at a Fortune 500 company. He is presently declining interviews.

Though the prospect of a real-life Enterprise is appealing, the proposed ship is not without problems.

Adam Crowl, an engineer with Icarus Interstellar Inc., a nonprofit foundation dedicated to interstellar exploration, pointed out that a spaceship built with a sufficiently powerful nuclear reactor would need large thermal radiators, ruining the classic Enterprise look.

“Engineering physics doesn’t respect our aesthetics,” he told SPACE.com by email.

BTE-Dan’s ship is essentially an iconic replica of the famous starship, and may not be practical.

“I would love to see 1,000 people go to Mars, but I need convincing that they need to be on the Enterprise to do so,” said Crowl.

Other engineers said the similarities between BTE-Dan’s ship and the Enterprise are only skin-deep.

“He wants to build something using foreseeable technology that just looks like the Enterprise,” said Marc Millis, an aerospace engineer at NASA’s Glenn Research Center. “It’s nowhere close to being what the Enterprise is.”

Still, the site received so many visits soon after its launch that it crashed, revealing how appealing the idea is to many people.

Today’s technology
Though some aspects of the Enterprise are far out of reach today, many are within our grasp, and some are part of our daily lives. Sliding doors, futuristic in the 1960s, now welcome almost every grocery store visitor, and today’s flip-open cellphones resemble Star Trek’s tricorders. The touch-screen devices ubiquitous today even look like those used in the 1990s episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

“If you had shown someone an iPad in the 1990s and told them it was 23rd century technology, they would have believed you,” Richard Obousy, co-founder and president of Icarus Interstellar Inc., told SPACE.com.

Advances with 3D printers also provide opportunities for voyages through space, allowing the replication of parts while using materials found at the destination. Andreas Hein, an aerospace engineer also with Icarus Interstellar, suggested that it might not be long before such printers make food similar to the way meals were synthesized by replicators on the Enterprise.

Additionally, engineers working at NASA’s Advanced Propulsion Physics Laboratory, informally known as Eagleworks, are working on a Q-thruster that bears a striking resemblance to the impulse engines on the Enterprise.

Nuclear woes
Millis suggested the next step in rocket propulsion will likely include utilizing a nuclear power source, an option that is stymied by the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. He acknowledged that the barriers aren’t just political ones, as people are nervous about the idea of launching nuclear rockets from Earth’s surface, despite the fact that it could be done safely.

Obousy agreed that nuclear rockets could provide the necessary thrust, pointing to the large, multi billion-dollar projects around the world seeking ways to unlock fusion as an energy source. Of course, such projects primarily focus on powering homes and cities on Earth, but once unlocked, fusion could be used to travel through the stars.

“In terms of propulsion technology, fusion engines are potentially within a generation or two,” Obousy said, though he added that sudden technological jumps could accelerate the process.

Visiting a planet without being seen may also be not too far out of reach.

“We’re doing things with meta-materials that’ll allow practical cloaking, maybe even invisibility,” Crowl said.

Gravity presents one of the greatest challenges: The Enterprise of television and the movies lacks a gravity wheel, instead utilizing synthetic gravity. According to Millis, if we could find a way to master gravitational forces, such technology could also be utilized in tractor beams or the ship’s propulsion.

Warp speed ahead
“Star Trek”-like propulsion remains a key problem. Fans are familiar with the warp drive, which accelerated the ship faster than the speed of light and allowed its crew to zip between stars. Such travel defies our present understanding of physics.

“I think this is one of the most important aspects that prevents an Enterprise-type ship in the near future,” Hein said.

Obousy agreed. “One of the staples of these warp drives is that they require an exotic form of energy that we have not been able to create in the labs, dark energy being the salient example,” he said.

Dark energy is the unexplained force behind the accelerated expansion of the universe. Scientists don’t yet understand what it is, which makes it a challenge to use in propulsion.

A warp drive would require an enormous amount of energy. Theoretical calculations using dark energy to move a starship would require more energy than that contained within the planet Jupiter, making it uneconomical.

In the “Star Trek” universe, the warp drive relied on antimatter. When matter and antimatter annihilate one another, the energy produced is immense. Though such an energy source could conceivably power the ship, it is available only briefly.

Crowl pointed out that antimatter technology itself is developing rapidly. Ultra-high intensity lasers may soon allow it to be directly created from energy, and useful amounts may be trapped in the magnetic fields of planets like Earth and Saturn.

But, like dark energy, antimatter may prove to be more trouble than it’s worth.

“Using antimatter right now is very expensive,” Millis said. “But that doesn’t mean that it always will be.”

When mankind finally travels to the stars, we may have to forgo warp speed for something else, such as the manipulation of space-time itself. According to Albert Einstein, nothing in the universe can travel faster than the speed of light. But Millis points out that such limits do not necessarily apply to space-time. Theories in peer-reviewed journals explore the possibility of surrounding a craft with a bubble of space-time that expands and contracts, perhaps allowing it to exceed the speed of light.

“It’s the difference between moving a pencil across a piece of paper or moving the whole paper,” Millis said.

Beam me up, Scotty

Another potential challenge to recreating the “Star Trek” universe is the system of matter transmission. The crew often traveled to a planet by transporter, beaming from the Enterprise directly to the surface by way of machines that could scan a body, atom-by-atom, and then recreate it in another place.

Recent advances have been made in quantum teleportation, but Obousy and Millis both stressed the difference from “Star Trek”-style travel.

In quantum teleportation, “it’s not the same photon you started out with, but a replica,” said Obousy.

Such travel would require enormous precision. “If you were going to recreate a human being transported from one place to another, you’d want to make sure everything’s in the exact place,” he said.

Millis suggested that, rather than matter transmission, scientists might one day learn how to utilize very small wormholes for travel. “Of course, if you put mass through it, it might make the wormhole collapse,” he noted.

Ultimately, the greatest challenge to replicating the Star Trek journeys may not come from the technological front.

“One of the things that I really liked about watching [the show] was the very good behavior of the crew,” Millis said. “The prejudices and petty human differences that make up so much of television are pretty much absent. When I think about relative impossibilities, I think it will be easier to make technology for the starship Enterprise than to finally make humans behave that honorably.”

Visit www.buildtheenterprise.org to see more details on the proposed construction of a real-life Enterprise.

Copyright 2012 SPACE.com, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Image courtesy of iStock, BrendanHunter

This article originally published at Space.com

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/07/07/build-starship-enterprise/

U.S.S. Enterprise Spatula Is Flippin’ Awesome


Product name: U.S.S. Enterprise Spatula
Price: $17.49 on ThinkGeek
Who would like this?: Trekkies with a partiality to pancakes

Your mother may have taught you not to play with your food (“It’s rude! You’ll make a mess! Your sister still has cranberries in her hair from last night!”) But she never said anything against playing with utensils in the kitchen, right?*

Nerdy novelty site ThinkGeek created a Star Trek-themed spatula that’s modeled after the famed U.S.S. Enterprise. The just-what-it-sounds-like contraption is six inches in diameter, with BPA (Bisphenol A)-free silicone and a zinc alloy metal handle.

It works just as well as any other spatula, but it doubles as a toy, so it’s perfect for any Star Trek fan with a knack for cooking. Plus, it just looks awesome.

*Exception: Knives

Video: YouTube, ThinkGeek

If you’re looking for the full Trekkie dining experience, Tumblr page Food Replicator posts weekly recipes of the series’ most infamous dishes, including Bularian Canapes, Senarian Egg Broth and Seska’s Mushroom Soup. They’re easy to follow, and include ingredients you can find here on Earth, so it’s a good jumping-off point for you and your flipping machine.

Tumblr not your thing? There are also several books on the market with all the Trekkie recipes you can imagine. The Star Trek Cookbook, for one, is available for $17.96 on Amazon.

And there’s no shortage of other swag, either. ThinkGeek has a long history of selling Star Trek merchandise, ranging from pajamas to jewelry to shot glasses. You can customize your own, sweet bachelor/bachelorette pad, too, so that special someone is especially impressed when you invite him/her over for dinner.

Try one, two or all of them — it’s bound to be a job majQa’ either way. You can boldly go to ThinkGeek for more details.


Image: PandaWhale

BONUS: 8 Romantic Gifts for Space Lovers

‘Star Trek’ Actors Star in New Mars Rover Landing Videos


How do you get people excited about a Mars rover that will attempt to land on the Red Planet in five days? You enlist the help of “Star Trek” icons Captain James T. Kirk and Wesley Crusher.

Actors William Shatner and Wil Wheaton, two stars who made their mark in different installments of the hugely popular Star Trek television series, narrate two new NASA videos about the agency’s Mars rover, Curiosity, which is scheduled to arrive at the Red Planet in less than a week.

After a roughly 8.5-month journey through space, Curiosity is scheduled to touch down on the Martian surface on Aug. 5 at 10:31 p.m. PDT (1:31 a.m. EDT Aug. 6).

Shatner, who played the legendary Captain Kirk in the original Star Trek TV series, provides the voice-over for one video, while Wheaton, who memorably portrayed the boy genius Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, narrates the other. Since their turns on the hit series, Shatner and Wheaton have become pop culture icons thanks to legions of fans around the world who affectionately nickname themselves “Trekkies.”

The NASA videos, both titled Grand Entrance, detail the stages of the Curiosity rover’s entry, descent and landing on Mars. The two versions are almost identical, but with both actors adding their own characteristic flair.

Also from SPACE.com: Video: William Shatner Describes Mars Rover Landing

“Shatner and Wheaton are mavericks in inspiring film, TV and social media audiences about space,” Bert Ulrich, NASA’s multimedia liaison for film and TV collaborations, said in a statement. “NASA is thrilled to have them explain a difficult landing sequence in accessible terms that can be understood by many. Thanks to their generous support, Mars exploration will reach Tweeters, Trekkies and beyond!”

In the videos, Shatner and Wheaton describe the intricate details of Curiosity’s harrowing journey to the Martian surface.

When Curiosity reaches Mars, the 1-ton rover will be lowered to the surface by a rocket-powered sky crane. This contraption will help slow the spacecraft’s speed from about 13,200 mph to zero in only seven minutes. This thrilling entry, descent and landing process is nicknamed “the seven minutes of terror” because of its complexity.

Shatner and Wheaton’s videos will be shared online and through social media channels, and will be broadcast at events around the country to promote Curiosity’s mission and build awareness about the historic landing, NASA officials said in a statement.

Interestingly, this is not the first connection between “Star Trek” and Mars. Enterprise-D, the fictional starship that was the main setting for “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” was said to have been built at the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards in orbit around Mars.

NASA is planning a range of educational and public outreach events surrounding Curiosity’s landing, including its first-ever multi-center social media event on Aug. 3. The event will connect six NASA centers in a simulcast with the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. for participants to learn more about the mission and each respective NASA outpost.

The gathering, called NASA Social, will be held simultaneously at six NASA centers, including the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., the Johnson Space Center in Houston, and the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

This article originally published at Space.com

Read more: http://mashable.com/2012/07/31/star-trek-new-mars-rover/

Cats In Space – Short Stark Trek With Cats Parody

What could every space exploration movie or TV show use more of? Cats, of course! 

 made this exciting and entertaining digital science fiction short, but added a special kick. Live cats. The results are truly spectacular!

The week old video just went viralviral today, and was just covered by YouTubeTrends, LaughingSquid, Mashable, MarySue, and the DailyWhatGeek.


Read more: http://www.viralviralvideos.com/2012/04/18/cats-in-space-short-stark-trek-with-cats-parody/

Wil Wheaton Auctions Ruined ‘Star Trek’ Card for Charity


Wil Wheaton card

Wil Wheaton made a mistake. He admits it. Thankfully, he covered it up the natural way: with a doodled pair of sunglasses, the phrase “YEEAAHH!!” and a charitable eBay auction.

Wheaton, known in part for playing Wesley Crusher on the TV series Star Trek: The Next Generation, is auctioning off a trading card (pictured above) of his character — signed, doodled and all.

According to Wheaton, he intended to autograph the card for a friend of a friend. When he accidentally wrote a line over his character’s face, he drew the sunglasses to cover it up. As he says:

But then you get an idea! You know how to save it and turn it into a priceless work of collectable art that will surely sell on an online auction site for ones or even fives of dollars. I mean, we’re not talking dented ping pong ball money, but it’s still something nice to give to your local humane society.

As for the “YEEAAHH!!” part?

And that’s when it hits you: dude, you’ve got this. You know how to save this, because you’re a professional and you know exactly what the hell you’re doing. You turn the sunglasses into THE SUNGLASSES OF JUSTICE and write, “YEEEAAAHHHH!” right across the top. You slam the card down on the table and say, “Nailed it,” because you did.

The rest of Wheaton’s hilarious post is definitely worth a read.

The current price for the card is at more than $600, with two days left to bid. Would you bust open your USS Enterprise bank to bid on this Trekkie collectable?

BONUS: 15 Quirky Star Trek Finds on Etsy

Ohio State Marching Band Honors Space And Science Fiction

Ohio State Marching Band Honors Space And Science Fiction

The Ohio State University marching band honored all things space during the Buckeyes game versus Illinois halftime show. The theme was called They Came from Outer Space, and their performance including music from Star Trek, Apollo 13 and Armageddon. They even marched in the formation of the Starship Enterprise. Live long and prosper!  


Read more: http://www.viralviralvideos.com/2014/11/02/ohio-state-marching-band-honors-space-and-science-fiction/