That’s right, grab your leotard, because it looks like Star Trek: First Contact was right. Here’s how the predictions of Gene Roddenberry are coming true.
1. The development of warp drive
Though it may have seemed far fetched back in the sixties, physicist Miguel Alcubierre proposed a way to bend space time. (1) While what he did what technically correct, his calculations calculated the amount of energy necessary would be a mass the size of Jupiter- read technically impossible. However, very recently another physicist- Harold White of NASA- showed that changing the shape of the bend in space-time can greatly reduce the amount of energy necessary. It would only take a traditional rocket’s worth of energy to bend space time. (2) There are some complications, but I believe future advances will find a way to slip around these difficulties. For example, MIT recently discovered (3) a new type of magnetism that could lead to a high temperature superconductor- this technology could help us break away from hydrocarbons (gasoline and coal) as a fuel source and help make solar power efficient. Warp drive may not happen tomorrow, but it becomes more and more feasible with each decade.
Also, according to the Star Trek Timeline the warp drive was created in 2061/63 in Bozeman, Montana by Zefram Cochrane. While it’s not exactly the same, an interesting little development was just recently announced: a company called Golden Spike is planning the first private moon mission by 2020, which means robotics beforehand. While it’s not Bozeman, it’s a big sky, rocky mountain state and they all look the goddamn same anyway. This company has NASA bigwigs on it- it’s a serious endeavor to make space travel affordable. The similarity is that they are both private space endeavors in the Rockies.
2. The Eugenics Wars
While the mid-nineties didn’t see a genetics war, we are seeing quite a few advancements in the field of genetics. 60 years ago, the double helix structure was discovered. 10(ish) years ago, the human genome was sequenced. Drugs are starting to become individualized down to the gene, and many inheritable diseases are being mapped. (14) (15) Genetics is the next field of medicine, and soon the possibility of individually tailored medicine and preventative genetics will become realities. Star Trek was a bit early with their predictions, but the field of genetics is expanding. Hopefully it doesn’t end in a war.
3. World War Three
Star Trek predicts a third, nuclear World War in 2053 that devastates the population. While it’s not a perfect picture, there are some similarities to pre-World War 2 Europe in the current global situation that, science forbid, could culminate with other factors to lead to a hypothetical nuclear world war.
After World War 1, Germany was forced to pay so many war reparations that their economy tanked. Germans were divided, and a strong anti-foriegner sentiment grew. (4) This is what allowed the Nazi party to rise. Similarly, Greece’s economy is in the tank (5) and the euro (and quite a bit of europe) is struggling. (6) (7) Fiscal desperation was one of the driving forces behind World War 2, and with the fiscal troubles in Greece has come the rise of Golden Dawn, an extreme-right party with ties to neo-Nazism. Golden Dawn has “22% favorable support”, won 7% of the popular vote in parliamentary elections, and has been violently interacting with immigrants. (9) (10)
Austria and Hungary were arbitrarily split up after World War 1, and this did not settle well. People of different nationalities were displaced and governments were set against each other because of the spoils they received. Economic tensions grew and nationalistic tendencies set in, causing strife between the new nations. (8) We can see similar tensions between multiple nations today. For example, in 1947 the British Raj was dissolved, leading to the formation of India and Pakistan. India formed a secular government with a strong Hindi population and Pakistan formed a Mulsim theocracy. The two countries are strongly divided by religion, and treatment of religious minorities in either country have frequently sparked conflicts between the two governments. There have been multiple wars and acts of terrorism on both sides, and in 1998 nuclear programs were developed by both countries. (11) (12) There have been some interactions by the countries to improve relations, but tensions are still present. Other factors include the Israel-Palestine conflict, American aggression toward Iran and the possibility of Iran developing nuclear weapons, and the multiple Islamic theocracies that are rising out of the Arab Springs revolts are all contributing to international tensions.
4. Star Trek tech that actually exists
While the above is speculation, quite a few technological advances have brought us some of the gadgets in Star Trek. The cell phone and accompanying technologies like blue tooth, voice activation, and touch screens, which are so integral to modern interaction, were commonplace forms of communication on the Enterprise. (13) Computing has also been growing along the lines Star Trek predicted- we can store large amounts of data in small computers, computer-human interaction like Siri and Dragon Go!, and artificial intelligence like Data are in the works right now. Universal translators allow you to converse with people who speak other languages while speaking your own. Medical advances like the tricorder, diagnostic bed , hypospray and Giordi’s VISOR are in their baby steps and show promising results.
So what’s the point? I don’t know- other than all the war, this shit is cool. Gene Roddenberry did a strikingly accurate job of predicting how the future might develop. Space is where most new technology is being developed, and hopefully these technologies can help us better the daily lives of people.