In astrophysicist Ethan Siegel’s new book Treknology: The Science of Star Trek from Tricorders to Warp Drive, he looks at the impact of Star Trek and science fiction in general on technological innovation and development : Star Treknology: Imagining The Future Into Being : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture : NPR
And how about that most Star Trek of Star Trek transport modalities — the transporter? Siegel manages to be both concise and complete in his discussion of the various ways a transporter might work. Do you actually move all the atoms of your body from one place to another? Or do you just transport the information about those atoms and then rebuild the body? These questions allow Siegel to unpack some basics of quantum physics, like the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. From there, he opens discussions of information and quantum computing with questions like: How can you map the atoms in your body for transport when you can’t know exactly where they are leading? All of these ideas are laid out at just the right level for a light-hearted science book about science fiction.
Treknology is pretty complete. It has a section on weapons and defense (deflector shields, phasers), a section on computing (the holodeck, androids) and a section on medicine and biology (recorders, cybernetics). There is a lot more, too, and each chapter in each section is richly illustrated with images from the shows and well-composed scientific diagrams. That means a lot of eye-candy here for both Trek and science fans.