Sunday, April 29, 2007
Scotty Finally Beamed Up
James Doohan, Star Trek's "Scotty", has finally made it to space for real. He died in 2005 aged 85, but this week his ashes, along with those of Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper and about 200 others, were launched into space from Spaceport America, a commercial spaceport, which charged US$495 per... er... ex-person. Star Trek Creator Gene Rodenberry had his ashed launched into space in 1997.
Perhaps at this point its worth stopping and considering how much of the science fiction and fantasy that Star Trek showed, has actually become real in the 35 years or so since the show was first envisaged. Yesterday I downloaded the latest episode of a TV show from a world-wide computer network, transferred it to my pocket-size ipod device, and watched it on the bus on the way into town, pausing only to answer my cell phone (half the size of Kirk's communicator). When I bored of that, I listened to a few of the 8,000 music tracks on the device. I watched the show through a disposable plastic lens in my eye which corrects my poor vision, and when I got home I heated food in 2 minutes in a microwave, a device unthought of in original Star Trek time, and brushed my teeth with a motorized toothbrush. Then I turned on the wall-size-image video projector and watched the News that had been on half an hour earlier, and skimmed the entire world's News headlines on the computer on my desk (which has 80,000 times more storage than the entire State Education Department computer system had when I was at school), where I noticed a story about Scotty's ashes and commercial spaceports trying to out-compete each other for customers. Because I was moved by the story, I wrote a few paragraphs about it and seconds later, anyone anywhere in the world could read my comments.
When you've got an hour or two to spare, go and watch some of those early Star Trek episodes. Remember that most of what you see on the show was intended to show the amazing things of the future, even though they look laughably ancient to us now. See for yourself just how lucky we are, to live when we live.