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To boldly goThough the TV show first debuted in the 1960s, "Star Trek" has sometimes seemed ahead of its time, particularly when it comes to the technologies featured on screen. From crewmembers toting communicators long before cell phones were ubiquitous to the automatic sliding doors aboard the Starship Enterprise, the show's innovation has delighted its fans for decades. This year, "Star Trek celebrates its 50th anniversary, and though some of the technologies from the show now have real-life counterparts, there are some aspects of the show that are still squarely in the realm of science fiction.
From the tech that lets the Starship Enterprise explore the universe to the devices that enable crewmembers to rapidly send information and people across great distances, here are 10 futuristic technologies Trekkies would love to have.
FIRST UP: Going faster than light ...
Warp driveSlide 2 of 21
Warp driveIn "Star Trek," when the crew of the Enterprise wanted to set out for another star, they were able to use warp drive to zip across great cosmic distances (something that's particularly helpful if you need to rescue a Starfleet crew that's fighting off Romulans).
Unfortunately, the physics of warp drive doesn't quite add up, though faster-than-light travel does have a basis in real science. Part of the problem has to do with Albert Einstein's theory of relativity. Simply speaking, as a spacecraft approaches the speed of light, the ship also becomes infinitely massive, which ultimately prevents it from breaking the barrier. Until scientists find a way of getting around that cosmic speed limit, we'll have to putter around closer to home. [Warped Physics: 10 Effects of Faster-Than-Light Travel]
NEXT UP: Beam me upSlide 3 of 21
TransportersSlide 4 of 21
Ah, to be able to commute from Los Angeles to New York City in the blink of an eye. Transporters were a device commonly used in "Star Trek" to beam people (and objects) between the Starship Enterprise and the surface of a planet or moon (and in some cases, between two spaceships).
Real-life teleportation for people is far from a reality, but in the bizarre world of quantum teleportation, there have been some advancements. Quantum teleportation is governed by the nature of quantum physics, which says the fundamental building blocks of the universe can exist in two or more places at the same time. Quantum teleportation involves capturing the so-called quantum states of an object and transmitting that information instantaneously to another location, recreating the exact object someplace else. In 2015, scientists teleported photons (packets of light) across a spool of fiber optics 63 miles (102 kilometers) long. This quadrupled the previous record, and also opens the possibility that such technology could help improve encryption, the researchers said.
NEXT UP: "Printing" food ...Slide 5 of 21
ReplicatorsSlide 6 of 21
"Tea, Earl Grey, hot" is perhaps the best-ever example of product placement in a space-based TV show. Whenever Captain Jean-Luc Picard, from "Star Trek: The Next Generation," was back in his quarters, he often sought a way to relax in between the stressful duties of leading the crew of a starship. On the show, replicators were machines that functioned as molecular assemblers, essentially rearranging subatomic particles into molecules to create virtually anything out of thin air. Crewmembers aboard the Enterprise most commonly used replicators to make food or water.
The closest real-life version of a replicator is a 3D printer, which uses a computer's digital instructions to print plastic, ceramic or metal objects right before your eyes. We're still a long way from being able to make real food in space, but simple tools are now available on the International Space Station, thanks to Made In Space's 3D printer. Over time, Made In Space plans to open final-frontier printing to private clients, and even university students.
NEXT UP: Going back in timeSlide 7 of 21
Time travelSlide 8 of 21