Trekkies rejoice


Senior Reporter

Star Trek: The Exhibition, which opened at the Detroit Science Center last month has a huge collection of Star Trek props, sets and information collected from the five television shows and 10 movies in the history of Star Trek, dating back to the 1960s. The exhibit showcases uniforms from the crew members, technological equipment and a complete recreation of the bridge from the original Star Trek.

Todd Slisher, VP of Science Programs at the museum, explained that much of the show’s technology has at least some basis in the world of physical possibility.

“Star Trek has a lot of connections to real life science,” Slisher said.

Throughout the exhibit, interspersed with phasers used by Captain Jean-Luc Picard and sashes worn by the Klingon warriors, are factoids about the actual history of space travel, and explanations as to whether or not the many shows’ technologies were feasible.

Slisher said that although even in reality, people may not be capable of traveling at the speed of light, the show’s creators took the physics of the situation into account.

“They realize that if you decelerate from light speed to zero, the inertia would crush everyone on the ship,” Slisher said.

So the Starship Enterprise is equipped with “inertial dampeners” to keep the crew from being flattened during space travel.

One of the most impossible technologies of Star Trek to replicate, according to the exhibit, is that of the transporter. While the transporter instantaneously teleports users from one location to another by breaking them down into their individual atoms, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle states that there’s no way to know where those atoms are or what state they are in.

The show compensates for this using the aptly named “Heisenberg compensator.”

However, not all of the technology is beyond realization. It’s said that one of the technologies from Star Trek, the handheld communicator, inspired the design of some cellular phones.

Since the opening of the exhibit, vice president of media relations Kelly Fulford said that the exhibit has brought in about double the regular weekend attendance, among them both fans of the series and people only somewhat familiar with the show.

“Even if you’re not a Trekkie, there’s something special about Star Trek,” Fulford said. “It has a message of hope and cooperation.”

Another vistor, Janet Jedro, was impressed with the replica of the original Star Trek series bridge that was on display.

“I’ve never been into Star Trek, but I remember seeing the original one with my father,” Jedro said.

Rita Leverett also enjoyed the exhibit, and identified herself as a fan of the show. She said that it didn’t tell her anything she didn’t already know.

Visitor James Mariconi said that it was neat to see the original props, although many of them look weird or dated up close. In reference to the props from the original Star Trek, visitor James Sand said, “It’s amazing to see what they were able to do with so little money.”

But most of the visitors to the exhibit seemed to agree on the idea that Star Trek has become a cultural icon. They also said that Star Trek: The Exhibition is probably best viewed by someone who has at least some knowledge of the Star Trek universe.

“If you had no interest in it, I think you’d get bored really quick,” Leverett said.

Leverett may be right. It would indeed prove difficult to comprehend the exhibit’s description for Tholians, which states that “Tholians from the Mirror Universe” were responsible for “blowing up a dead star to create an interphase rift to hijack a Federation vessel from the future.”

But the exhibit has certainly attracted big fans of the show. Slisher said he’s seen people come in full Starfleet regalia, dressed as Romulans or Vulcans.

In fact, when the exhibit opened on Valentine’s Day weekend, the museum invited couples to come and get engaged in the exhibit.

Nine couples took them up on the offer, and they are now entered in a Detroit Science Center sponsored contest.

People can read the couples’ stories on their website and vote for which of the couples they think should win a Star Trek wedding to take place in the exhibit.

“They could choose to get married on the bridge if they wanted,” Fulford said.