Some of the 8+ technologies (or story elements) of Star Trek that I discuss include:
1) Warp Drive
2) Universal Translator
3) Handheld Computers
4) Medical Tricorder
5) Energy Weapons
8) Intelligent Aliens
9) Other Technologies
Although some Star Trek technologies are still clearly in the realm of science fiction (e.g., the warp drive), others like the medical tricorder are coming close to reality. And some design elements (like the flip-style communicators of Star Trek: TOS) have already come and gone as consumer products in the real world.
One of my favorite television miniseries is the HBO production, “From The Earth To the Moon“. This series details the saga of the Apollo space program, with the goal (in President Kennedy’s words) of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth”.
Although I’m not a supporter of government-funded science for the same reasons Ayn Rand laid out in her essay “Apollo 11“, like Rand I still marvel at this tremendous achievement which was a triumph of man’s reason and courage.
Of the various episodes in the series my favorite is probably episode 5, “Spider“.
“Spider” depicted the development of the Lunar Module (LEM) by Grumman Aircraft, led by engineer Tom Kelly. Kelly and his team solved engineering challenge after challenge through a combination of reason, ingenuity, creativity, intellectual integrity, and above all an utmost respect for the facts of reality. The episode is upbeat and nicely captures the joy of engineering.
The whole episode is superb and worth watching. But I was especially glad to find this short excerpt of the final 5 minutes on YouTube:
Kelly’s musings about how each LEM has a “soul”, consisting of the souls of all the men who built her, designed her, and dreamed about her was very reminiscent of Dagny Taggart’s musings in Atlas Shrugged during the first run of the John Galt Line when she thought that the motors running her engines were alive — operated by remote control by the souls and minds of the thinking men who designed them.
(The video track just above is from a different television show, but the audio track is from the HBO series.)
I’ve always thought of these as wonderful musical concretizations of the optimistic American sense of life that was so widespread and normal just a few years ago.
So if you find yourself getting depressed over current events, just remember that many Americans still retain that marvelous implicit sense that life is good, happiness is desirable and attainable, and great achievements are possible to men. And as long as we still have that, this country still has a chance.