Lately I have become more transfixed by the whole Star Trek universe. I am quire slow to get on the bandwagon, but hey, I got here. I cannot say how many times I've sat at my desk and thought, "Man, if only I could transport myself to the grocery store, they I wouldn't have to go outside." When I realize I really cannot transport myself to the grocery store without getting in my car, I open the fridge and sadly gaze into its emptiness and think, "Wow, if I had a replicator I wouldn't have to leave the house!"
Now, I'm a newbie to the Star Trek genre, but I've seen some of the original series, some of The Next Generation, and am currently working my way through Voyager (and I'd like to have a Tom Paris/Harry Kim/Chakotay sandwich).
So here are five pieces of Star Trek technology that everyone needs to have (and don't worry, everyone is safe here, even those of you wearing red shirts).
Wouldn't it be nice if you could walk the stores or downtown and know if someone was talking about you in another language? It would also be nice to be able to travel and not feel inferior by not knowing the native language.
Well, that's where the Universal Translator (that was later built into the Combadge) would come in.
So, how likely is it that this technology will exist in our lifetime? Well, with the rapid advancements in computers and technology, perhaps this piece of technology is closer than we think. While not yet small enough to fit on a Combadge and considered "one way," the Voxtec Phraselator is a hand-held device used mostly by the military to translate phrases in several language.
Computers and the Internet have opened up the entire world to anyone with a phone line/cable and a computer in a virtual manner of speaking. However, the images are not completely interactive or tangible. Although 3D television is on the horizon, it has not become a true reality.
The Holodeck allows for interaction within Holonovels (because the Starfleet crews are much too busy to actually read a book). They also allow the crew to visit other places and to work out simulations without being in harm's way.
It is possible that this technology is coming sometime in the future, but it may play out differently than depicted, though, since the Star Trek Holodeck doesn't seem to rely on anything to measure a person's movements, but I can imagine that would be required to simulate movement.
Seriously, what can't a TriCorder do? It can detect life, elements, chemicals, medical conditions, and so much more. While it seems like some medical procedures have not changed in the last few decades, some have changed dramatically. Some procedures are less invasive and require less healing time. And currently it takes larger computers and several pieces of equipment to detect life forms or elements.
Technology has not progressed enough for the technology to become hand-held or widely distributed and cost effective, but it seems as though technology and science are headed in that direction. This advancement would certainly help with everything from diagnosing medical conditions, to helping find mineral deposits for mining, to locating some missing people.
Ran out of pickles before a big BBQ and don't have time to run to the store? Out of toilet paper at a rather inconvenient time? This is when a replicator would come in quite handy.
This bad boy can take any type of molecules and recycle them into anything else. It is the ultimate form of recycling!
Unfortunately, we'll have to stick with plan ol' recycling and sending out cousin Frank to pick up the pickles. Until scientists have learned how to turn matter into energy and back into matter (a very long way off), we'll have to keep dreaming.
Ah, with the rising oil and gas prices getting in the car for work every day or driving to visit family not only takes forever, but it's also expensive. If all I had to do was step on a transporter (or initiate a site-to-site transport) and say "energize" to get somewhere, you can bet I would be visiting every person I know! This technology would completely revolutionize every day life and probably put transportation companies out of business.
This technology doesn't look like it'll be coming around any time soon. Although some scientists have experimented with moving light and small matter a few inches, moving a person over a long distance is definitely out of the question for now. Besides, who would want to be a guinea pig to test out having themselves broken down to the molecule?
In other words, we'll probably have to keep dreaming. Besides, Star Trek was set in the future. Although people of the past imagined we would have hover cars and food in pill form by now, we still have a little bit more time to develop Star Trek-like technology.