They boldly predicted, and time proved them right

Science debate: Children can't accept reality, even as 'Star Trek' turns out to be fact
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The Independent Online

For millions of viewers around the world "Beam me up, Scottie" was an escape into a future world they never expected to experience. But an exhibition opening today will show Star Trek was soundly based on science.

For millions of viewers around the world "Beam me up, Scottie" was an escape into a future world they never expected to experience. But an exhibition opening today will show Star Trek was soundly based on science.

The exhibition, at the Science Museum, London, has a working model Transporter Room, and a mock-up of Starship Enterprise. Flick a switch, and you see yourself instantly transported from South Kensington to a tropical beach.

The exhibition explains the real science that lies behind behind the fiction, and the hands-on exhibits are displayed by staff gallantly wearing the tight Star Trek uniforms.

Gene Rodenberry, the author and originator of Star Trek, worked with countless scientific consultants, academics and Nasa engineers to portray what was, for the Sixties, a realistic vision of the future. And large chunks of that future are with us now.

In the Sixties, automatic sliding doors were ultra-futuristic and voice-activated recognition systems and controls were out of this world. But both were on Starship Enterprise, and both are standard today.

The floppy disc was used on the Enterprise long before it became a reality here on earth. The sick-bay did not have syringes. Instead it had a nifty machine that gave hypodermic injections using compressed air, now in real-life use.

Nasa, untroubled by fuel strikes, is getting its ion propulsion drive system to work, an innovation the Enterprise had up and running in 1964 with its "impulse" mechanism.

And even that was outdated. As Scottie said at the time: "You'll not be going all the way on impulse power, surely, Captain? That will take a great deal of time. You'll be using the warp drive instead."

Sadly, not even Nasa has conquered the warp drive which takes short-cuts through "worm-holes" in space. Thirty years ago, worm-holes, bending around point-sized black holes in the fabric of space-time, were a mind-bending concept. Now they are accepted by cosmologists everywhere, even if no one has yet been down one.

Star Trek: Federation Science. Exhibition explaining science through Star Trek, at the Science Museum, South Kensington, London, until April. For prices, call 020 7942 4000.

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