Trek at 50: The quest for a unifying theory of time travel in Star Trek by Xaq Rzetelny [Ars Technica] [more inside]
Our Science Fiction Movies Hate Science Fiction. An intelligent discourse from The Awl about the state of modern science fiction movies. [more inside]
In 1994, theoretical physicist Miguel Alcubierre proposed a scheme for virtual faster than light travel using a real-world analog to the familiar science fiction trope known as "Warp Drive." The basic premise exploited certain space-time warping effects predicted by General Relativity to fold space-time, theoretically allowing a specially designed space craft to reach distant destinations effectively at FTL speeds without actually having to accelerate to light speed or beyond at all. There was, however, at least one major problem with the proposal: The math suggested it would require as much energy as the mass of the planet Jupiter to power the thing. But according to newer calculations based on a modified version of Alcubierre's original proposal, warp speed travel may now theoretically be within reach (warning: eyeball-gouging Space.com link), requiring drastically less energy than originally thought. Of course, not everyone's convinced there's anything to see here. And even so, prohibitive energy input requirements may not be the only serious challenge facing the development of real-world warp drive technology, so don't go packing your bags for that long overdue vacation to Risa just yet.
Qualcomm and the X Prize Foundation have launched a new contest: Envision and build the equivalent of Star Trek's medical tricorder, a portable health monitoring device that can remotely diagnose patients. The winner will receive $10 million. [more inside]
The new Star Trek movie is both canon and a (partial) reboot. Screenwriter Roberto Orci explains using canon examples - and a discussion of the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics. [more inside]
The Particles of Star Trek. Confused about dilithium, trilithium, and neodilithium? Can't tell a tachyon from a temporal wake? Here's an obsessive and growing list of just about every particle used across the generations: "So tiny, you can't tell it's a deus ex machina!" (Also includes minerals, chemical compounds, energy waves, and other miscellanea.)
U.S.S. Enterprise analyzed. "For StarTrek [sic] fans we tested the USS Enterprise in our super-orbital expansion tube... We perform similar tests on other models investigating dissociation and ionisation processes which occur during atmospheric re-entry."
Teleportation finally? Not quite "beam me up scotty" yet, but a definite surge forward. The mechanics of it aren't quite sophisticated enough yet to handle humans, but this does make quantum computers close to reality.
Transparent aluminum is here. Star Trek IV, The Voyage Home: documentary?