Recently in the Star Trek Technology Category

Santa Clara University's Dr. Philip Kesten visits Google to discuss the Physics of Star Trek.

Warp Drive Research at NASA JSC

"This paper will begin with a short review of the Alcubierre warp drive metric and describes how the phenomenon might work based on the original paper. The canonical form of the metric was developed and published in [6] which provided key insight into the field potential and boost for the field which remedied a critical paradox in the original Alcubierre concept of operations. A modified concept of operations based on the canonical form of the metric that remedies the paradox is presented and discussed. The idea of a warp drive in higher dimensional space-time (manifold) will then be briefly considered by comparing the null-like geodesics of the Alcubierre metric to the Chung-Freese metric to illustrate the mathematical role of hyperspace coordinates. The net effect of using a warp drive "technology" coupled with conventional propulsion systems on an exploration mission will be discussed using the nomenclature of early mission planning. Finally, an overview of the warp field interferometer test bed being implemented in the Advanced Propulsion Physics Laboratory: Eagleworks (APPL:E) at the Johnson Space Center will be detailed. While warp field mechanics has not had a "Chicago Pile" moment, the tools necessary to detect a modest instance of the phenomenon are near at hand." More

"Microflow is a miniaturized version of a flow cytometer (a common research or clinical laboratory instrument used for a range of bioanalysis and clinical diagnoses). Microflow can spot cells and biological molecules rapidly by using optical fibre-optic technology to detect them in a sample of liquid as they pass single-file in front of a laser--all within 10 minutes. Different detectors positioned at the point where the stream meets the laser can analyse the physical and chemical properties of molecules or cells in the sample. Unlike most current flow cytometers (which are used only in labs because they can weigh hundreds of pounds and take up as much space as three laser printers and an espresso machine), Microflow weighs less than 10 kg and takes up about the same space as a toaster. Microflow's small size and light-weight make it ideally suited for use in space, since it costs much more to launch heavier objects into space, and bulky objects are more difficult to stow aboard sleek spacecraft and the ISS." More

"Move over "Bones" McCoy. Future voyages of the starship Enterprise just might include astro surgery as this dynamic discipline jumps from the pages of fiction to reality. A team of biomedical engineering researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Louisville are developing surgical tools that could be used for future expeditionary spaceflights to the moon, an asteroid or Mars. "In deep space, surgical procedures will be severely complicated by absence of gravity, where it becomes difficult to prevent cabin contamination from blood and body fluids," said James Antaki, a professor of biomedical engineering at CMU." More

Someone Has Created a Holodeck

A Queen's University researcher has created a Star Trek-like human-scale 3D videoconferencing pod that allows people in different locations to video conference as if they are standing in front of each other. "Why Skype when you can talk to a life-size 3D holographic image of another person?" says professor Roel Vertegaal, director of the Human Media Lab.

Open Source Tricorder Project

Star Trek-like open-source tricorder sees magnetic fields and more, MSNBC

"A person with that level of smarts, apparently, has enough brain power leftover in his spare time to invent tricorders, not to mention the greedlessness to share the blueprint with DIYers who want their own. Instructions are available from his Tricorder Project website. Like the Trek devices, Jansen's gadgets will measure the environment, things such as ambient temperature, humidity and magnetic fields, as well as take spatial readings for distance, location and even motion. They won't, however, identify aliens for you."

How to make your own tricorder, Smart planet

"Take one part open-source code, two parts OLED display, mix in a generous helping of curiosity and serve with a side of extra-delicious geekiness. That's your basic recipe for a real-life tricorder, as envisioned and modeled by Dr. Peter Jansen. The result is a handheld device with sensors for reading atmospheric, electromagnetic and spacial properties in the surrounding environment. Dr. Jansen's tricorder won't necessarily detect alien life-forms, but there's plenty of room to expand on his open-source design. Your mileage may vary."

Researcher publishes specs for real Linux-powered Star Trek tricorder, Ars Technica

"The Mark 2 tricorder, which is the more sophisticated of the two devices, runs Debian Linux on an ARM920T-based Amtel microcontroller. It is designed in a clamshell form factor, with a pair of OLED resistive touchscreen panels on the inside. Jansen's Mark 2 tricorder is powered by a lithium polymer battery (more energy efficient than the Mark 2 EMH, which is powered by Andy Dick) that fits inside the device's housing. The built-in sensors can measure temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, magnetic fields, color, ambient light level, GPS location, and distance to a surface."

A New Scanner Bed for Sickbay

Augmented Reality Promises Astronauts Instant Medical Knowhow

"A new augmented reality unit developed by ESA can provide just-in-time medical expertise to astronauts. All they need to do is put on a head-mounted display for 3D guidance in diagnosing problems or even performing surgery. The Computer Assisted Medical Diagnosis and Surgery System, CAMDASS, is a wearable augmented reality prototype. Augmented reality merges actual and virtual reality by precisely combining computer-generated graphics with the wearer's view. CAMDASS is focused for now on ultrasound examinations but in principle could guide other procedures."

Using T-Rays To Make Tricorders

T-rays technology could help develop Star Trek-style hand-held medical scanners

"Scientists have developed a new way to create electromagnetic Terahertz (THz) waves or T-rays - the technology behind full-body security scanners. The researchers behind the study, published recently in the journal Nature Photonics, say their new stronger and more efficient continuous wave T-rays could be used to make better medical scanning gadgets and may one day lead to innovations similar to the 'tricorder' scanner used in Star Trek."

Video: Hacking Kinect - NASA Applications?

Think for a moment: Remember all of the things in "Avatar", "Star Trek", and other SciFi films that were controlled by people waving their hands over sexy looking devices, wandering around holodecks, or using remotely controlled bodies. When Kinect was first released, Microsoft was against anyone hacking it. A similar thing happened when LEGO Mindstorms was released and hobbyists began to fiddle with the software. As was the case with LEGO, Microsoft has done a complete 180 and has overtly embraced the notion that people can take technology and do things that its originators never imagined. How could Kinect hacks change the way that NASA does things? What would it be like to use Kinect as a whole body interface with 360 degrees of movement while living in microgravity aboard the ISS? Could NASA control Robonaut this way?

Updating Galactic Cartography

Constructing a Galactic coordinate system based on near-infrared and radio catalogs

"The definition of the Galactic coordinate system was announced by the IAU Sub-Commission 33b on behalf of the IAU in 1958. An unrigorous transformation was adopted by the Hipparcos group to transform the Galactic coordinate system from the FK4-based B1950.0 system to the FK5-based J2000.0 system or to the International Celestial Reference System (ICRS). For more than 50 years the definition of the Galactic coordinate system has remained unchanged from this IAU1958 version. On the basis of deep and all-sky catalogs, the position of the Galactic plane can be revised and updated definitions of the Galactic coordinate systems can be proposed."

Inventing the Tractor Beam

NASA Studying Ways to Make 'Tractor Beams' a Reality (with video)

"Tractor beams -- the ability to trap and move objects using laser light -- are the stuff of science fiction, but a team of NASA scientists has won funding to study the concept for remotely capturing planetary or atmospheric particles and delivering them to a robotic rover or orbiting spacecraft for analysis."

Backward Pulling Force from a Forward Propagating Beam, Chen et al

"We show explicitly that the necessary condition to realize a negative (pulling) optical force is the simultaneous excitation of multipoles in the particle and if the projection of the total photon momentum along the propagation direction is small (as in some propagation invariant beams), attractive optical force is possible. This possibility adds "pulling" as an additional degree of freedom to optical micromanipulation."

Tractor beam, Wikipedia