Star Trek has inspired a lot of things: kids splitting their fingers like Mr Spock and saying, ‘live long and prosper’, speaking…in…staccato…sentences like Captain Kirk and demanding a Tribble – a small furry, cute alien – of their very own.
But those kids sometimes grown up to be scientists, and those scientists often use what they saw all those years ago for ideas in the work that they do.
William Shatner boldly goes in search of those scientists to see how Star Trek has influenced their work in How Techies Changes The World.
He begins by looking at the life of Dr. Marc D. Rayman, the chief propulsion engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and shows how Dr. Rayman became interested in propulsion through Star Trek. He also investigates how NASA's deep space probe's ion propulsion was inspired by the Star Trek episode Spock's Brain.
Think some mobile phones look eerily familiar – particularly some of those made by Motorola. There’s a good reason for that, Martin Cooper, the chief engineer at Motorola, who invented the mobile phone says that Star Trek was his inspiration. During the show he discusses how Star Trek also introduced the concept of computer voice recognition dialing.
The show also explores how Star Trek popularized the notion of the user-friendly personal computer, and how Trek fan Ed Roberts, invented the first home computer, the Altair 8800, named after the solar system Altair (Altair 6) in the Star Trek episode Amok Time.
This led to Bill Gates writing the computer programming language BASIC for the Altair and forming Microsoft.
Then it’s on to Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise -- and their impact and how they differed from the original series.
Steve Perlman, who was principal scientist at Apple Computer, who was inspired to invent the QuickTime media player by watching an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
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