Science Fiction Roundup: Star Trek Stuff and Food-Related Tech
Posted by erikthereddest
Hello, everyone! Tis I, the lit-critical tech junkie with a penchant for misnomers, Erik the Reddest, back on rotation with a suite of science fiction for you and yours. Frankly, I spent my whole last run on such a narrow topic, I want t spread out a bit this time, and since I talked on and on about someone else’s writing, I’d like to present some of my own.
But first, something fun (yet still relevant): a science fiction roundup! I haven’t done one of these in a while. It’s just a mashup of tech and sci-fi articles to tickle your imagination for your own writing, and to make a point about some of the things I jabber on about in my own posts. Anyway, here you go.
Ok Fine, so I Guess Star Trek Had Some Merit
The chicken/egg first debate surrounding science fiction and technology makes my head spin sometimes. Here we had a goofy, low-budget space odyssey show from the 60’s and it still managed to predict/inspire things like the cell phone, tablet computers, and now apparently, warp drives and tricorders.
Being able to use a handheld device to analyze the chemical properties of a sample on the fly would be useful for numerous fields of science. Since Star Trek, fans have been speculating and dreaming about developing real tricorders like the ones in the show, and we appear to be getting closer to that goal. One hurdle to this device is handling non-metal samples such as plant or animal cells, since it would be nearly impossible to tell without treating with chemicals and lab processes if you are actually testing what you mean to test, and not just a contaminant like crumbs from someone’s turkey sandwich. Luckily, researchers at Penn State have figured out how to use special sound waves like tweezers to sort different microscopic cells, making it possible for a computer to one day figure out what it’s analyzing.
Star Trek had a habit of making up reasons for technology long after it has been in canon for the series. The most famous example is, of course, warp drives. Initially thought of as just going really, really fast, writers for the show eventually settled that the ships can go really fast (breaking the speed of light barrier without problems) because they’re warping space around them, making it more “dense” behind and less “dense” before a ship.
Initially, the plausibility of this idea was just kind of shrugged off, but Harold White of Nasa recently breathed new life into the idea at the 100 Year Starship Symposium, taking a physics model presented in 1995 by Miguel Alcubierre, and claiming that it could take far less energy than initially thought, bringing it back into the realm of plausibility. The method would involve a football-shaped ship surrounded by an outer ring which would let it ride in front of a bubble of warped space.
I feel like I’m eating some crow on this one, considering how much I’ve made fun of Star Trek’s supposedly impossible science. I guess anything can happen when your fanbase is made up of a bunch of really smart nerds.
Meanwhile, in the Dairy Industry…
Leaving science fiction behind, let’s take a quick look at heath. I know several people with digestive problems when eating food with high fat and dairy content, and I gather that’s not a lot of fun. Food allergies in general can be extremely unpleasant to life threatening, and there’s a whole realm of research science dedicated to figuring out ways around that. This article comes out of New Zealand, where they figured out how to use gene therapies and hormone treatments to make cows give milk that doesn’t contain certain proteins known to cause allergic responses in certain people. This line of research holds promise for controlling other desirable traits in livestock, but this is just one of the first successes for the technique. I can only imagine how expensive this milk will be when it eventually comes to the market, but hey, to some people it’ll be the only milk they can drink, and that’s better than nothing.
I hope you have enjoyed this reprieve from heavy analysis and semi-scholarship. I realize some of what I write is not everyone’s cup of hot Earl Grey, and I’ll try to stick to smaller-scale stuff so it doesn’t get dry. On top of that, I’ll be presenting some of my own actual writing this month to hopefully demonstrate some of what I’ve been talking about for the last few years. Until then, who wants to tell me “I told you so” about this warp drive thing? Let me know in the comments below!
About erikthereddestI'm a Masters student in English, and I love technology and Science Fiction. I am refining and enhancing my (admittedly novice) writing talents under the sage advice of my friends here at Lantern Hollow Press, and with the great many books I am reading from the best authors I can find.
Posted on October 3, 2012, in Erik Marsh, Lantern Hollow Press Authors, Science Fantasy, Science Fiction, Science Fiction Roundup, Star Trek, Technology, Universes and tagged genetic modification, science fiction, Star Trek, Tricorder, warp travel. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.