Star Trek: Treknology by Ethan Siegel, PhD (book review).

Now here’s a book that will open different doors, depending on your interest in ‘Star Trek’ and real science and technology. Amongst the photos from the various ‘Star Trek’ series and films and from our reality, Ethan Siegel’s book, ‘Star Trek: Treknology’, looks at the fictional technology against how it would be done or has been done in real life. In some instances, we’ve moved beyond the expectations of the 1960s series and a little bit into the latter series as well. Backed up by Siegel having several science degrees, you’re getting informed knowledge here. He also appears very conversant with all things Trek. In that respect, it gives me more time to think on the subject than discovering any errors.

A book about technology should make you think and I don’t think you just want me to just drily say there are six sections covering ‘Starship Technology’, ‘Weapons And Defence’, ‘Communications’, ‘Computing’, ‘Civilian Technology’ and, finally, ‘Medial And Biological’. In case you’re wondering where androids fit in, you’d need to look under ‘Computing’. ‘Civilian Technology’ documents medical equipment amongst other things. I should point out that much of the book is about human technology than any, outside of the Romulan cloaking device, of those created by aliens from other worlds. I imagine, they have their own writers there writing similar books.

Something that suddenly dawned on me was the use of tractor beams and I was moving beyond his observations. This came from his point that the Borg’s tractor beam was powerful enough to grab the Enterprise encasing its own deflector shield meant it was just grabbing energy regardless of its function. When you consider the scale of each starship, the Borg clearly had more energy to play around with. Cross-connecting to the transporter, wouldn’t it make sense that a tractor beam was encapsulating people or materials to keep track of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle of where atoms stay for a brief moment before relying on quantum entanglement to deconstruct and reconstruct in a different location. Imposing a low level tractor beam within the Enterprise, other starships are available, would probably explain the form of gravity they are using as well rather than have some seriously heavy element that drew matter towards the floor.

Oddly, one photo on page 75 shown of the phaser being demonstrated as being used in a variety of combat situations is actually from ‘The Enemy Within’ where Sulu is actually using his phaser to warm up some rocks for himself and his team to keep warm on a planet’s surface.

On reflection, seeing the amount of energy that a photon torpedo can generate, you don’t need a direct detonation to cause damage, just nearby to your target. As to destroying a planet, I will correct Siegel a little. It’s all a matter of placement and creating a chain reaction using the energy of a planet’s own core than just relying on one or more photon torpedoes.

Probably the one area where ‘Star Trek’ has had the most influence has been in communication devices and the current mobile telephone owes a lot to the original 1966 show. I still think Uhura’s earjack might make a comeback if only because it carries its own aerial and power supply and at least you won’t lose it on the floor.

The size of computer memory surprises me less. Without such large sizes you wouldn’t be able to store information for the transporter or for manipulating matter from the replicators. I would correct him here in that atoms aren’t made but there is material stored to be manipulated into food and other things.

I do have to wonder at the primitive VISOR that Geordie LaForge wore in such a futuristic society when things would have moved along much further but I suspect eye replacements would have looked too much like that of ‘The Six Million Dollar Man’.

As a Type One Diabetic, their hyposprays do bother me, assuming diabetes doesn’t have a better remedy in the future. It would be too easy to self-administer too much insulin or, worse, someone over-dosing and killing me or anyone else unknowingly. I had a thought about never saw seeing any scenarios where non-medical people use such devices except the one occasion when the Borg did when they kidnapped Pickard. It did make me ponder on how regulations were maintained to keep such drugs with medical staff on starships and planets.

I should point out that Siegel does not get too technical in other than a few diagrams and gives pointers to see the current state of modern technology. Although I can see the ‘Star Trek’ influence on the likes of mobile phones and the series has contributed to all things in space, I do hope you folk will realise Man might still have achieved similar results if not now but later. ‘Star Trek’ benefits from being one of the first more serious SF shows from the 1960s. The technology is from Man’s own efforts to make it work. It just needs more effort and finance to get us further into the final frontier.

GF Willmetts

October 2017

(pub: Aurum Press/Quarto. 215 page illustrated index medium hardback. Price: £19.99, $30.00 (US), $39.00 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7603-5263-2)

check out websites: and

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.