You can read plenty of articles online celebrating the wonders of Trek tech. We want the Star Trek universe to become a reality so bad we’ve actually created a lot of the technology already. Things like communicators (cell phones), portable data tablets, universal translators (not very good ones), and holodecks (well, my Oculus Rift comes pretty darn close) are all great additions to our world. But what about the tech that isn’t so incredible? We see some pretty bad stuff happen to people in the Trek Universe. Let’s look at the tech we probably don’t want to see become reality.
1. Food Replicators
In the future, we supposedly don’t cook. Sorry to anyone who was thinking about becoming the cook on a starship somewhere, it’s just not going to happen.
You see, efficiency is king in the Star Trek universe and instead of having humans or androids cook your food, you have a machine just replicate it. For someone who doesn’t like to cook, this might seem like a dream come true. But it isn’t. If you remember that scene in the Matrix where Neo eats the “breakfast of champions” on the Nebuchadnezzar, you’ll recall Mouse’s musings on Tasty Wheat. “How did the machines know what tasty wheat tasted like?”
And while the people in the Federation probably know what Tasty Wheat tastes like, they’re also a giant bureaucratic organization. And bureaucratic organizations like to cut corners. That means that the food replicators we see in Star Trek use up the least number of resources possible.
What does this mean for the food coming out of the food replicators? Well, Tasty Wheat probably doesn’t taste like Tasty Wheat and you’re never going to see a truly gourmet meal again.
Ok, maybe this one would be a good thing for our world. Excessive alcohol use led to about 88,000 deaths in the four years between 2006 and 2010. And that’s not counting how many people died as a result of drunk driving. Also, it really does make sense that if you’re on a starship in the middle of space to not serve a substance that degrades your crew’s judgment.
But all of that aside, it’s quite obvious from how people act in the Star Trek universe that synthehol just doesn’t hold a candle to the real stuff. Officers are constantly breaking out the real stuff behind closed doors. Even some Romulan wine shows up at times despite its illegality.
Besides not needing to research the top ten wine coolers in your star system, why would anyone care if the stuff were real or not. Isn’t the point of synthehol to give the user the positive effects without the negative ones?
The problem is, most (civilized) people drink alcohol for the taste as well as the effects. If synthehol actually tasted like the real thing and did its job as a good substitute, no acting captain would have a secret stash of Scotch in their bulkhead.
Any Trekkie from the time they’re old enough to watch Star Trek has wanted to try out a transporter. Who wouldn’t want to travel from one location to another in the blink of an eye? Think of how much time you’d save and then consider the cool factor.
But the truth is, it’s not cool at all. Putting aside all of the various speculative fiction pieces that assume you either lose your soul or go slowly insane each time you use one, there are just too many things that could go wrong. One of the first scenes in Star Trek: The Motion Picture should be enough evidence as to why we don’t want to ride the energy beam ever.
The Enterprise had been re-fitted with a new transporter system. Science Officer Commander Sonak and one other crew member were the unlucky ones slated to beam aboard immediately after. Panic ensues as the system malfunctions. We watch as the two officers partially form in the transporter room. Ghostly screams rise. Kirk and Scotty try to increase the signal but it’s too late. When Kirk asks if Federation HQ has them they respond, “What we got back…didn’t live long…fortunately.”
This is what happens when you build machines that break down our matter into energy and the reconstructs it on the other end. Not only could things turn out like they did for Sonak and the other officer, how many worse things could happen.
Data loss is a real thing. What if you popped up on the other side with a vital nerve missing? Do you really want to find out how bad it could be?
Conclusion: Space is Scary
While you might dream of one day riding on a transporter ship to the bridge of the Enterprise, you might want to think long and hard about your dream. Like Bones says in Star Trek 0: Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence. So, you think about that for a while and don’t forget to check out more Star Trek on TVOvermind.com.