Posted in Monday Mayhem

What Is Utopia?

Has the thought of a better world ever entered your mind? Lately, that’s all I’ve been thinking about. Believe me when I say thinking about a world gone crazy over the course of four years has yielded more than its fair share of interesting thoughts. A case in point? Zombies. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say I’ve learned quite a bit about the undead, how they are born, live and die. It’s no secret that I’ve talked about the zombie culture, and to a point, lived it in my writings.

Is this Utopia?
Is this Utopia?

That’s why for today’s Monday Mayhem article I would like to focus attention on the other side of the pendulum—Utopia. What is it? Is it possible? How soon can it happen?

On many occasions, I’ve touched on the TV show Star Trek: The Next Generation. If there ever were a true representation of Utopia, I would say the era of the crew of the Starship Enterprise is it. How could I think any less of the perfect amalgamation of technology, society and morals than that of the United Federation of Planets?

The original show introduced audiences to the transporter, a machine that dematerializes the molecular structure of objects and reassembles them in another location. Imagine beaming to Florence in the morning for an espresso, then beaming back home to get ready for work in the span of a few minutes. Are you worried about costs of the trip? No need. Apparently, the need for material wealth no longer exists, replaced by the desire to better oneself with the arts and sciences instead.

What Is Utopia?The show also gave viewers the replicator, a device possessing the ability to create foods and recipes from a technical schematic fed to it in binary instructions. In other words, no dish is too difficult to cook in a matter of seconds as long as the computer has it programmed in its database. The replicator is a dream for those wanting food fast without it being fast food. I smell a turkey dinner, mashed potatoes, vegetables and a bucket of gravy slated for tonight’s dinner. It is that quick. You think it, the computer makes it.

And the biggest of all creations Star Trek brought to the table is the enigma called the holodeck, a device that can recreate a time and place in history. The device can also create an environment specially designed to conform to one of the biggest game centers ever. The practical application for such a device is with the recreation, say, of a crime scene. The holodeck can also add all the suspects involved, and a court can determine the guilty party based on the evidence and the holodeck’s presentation. Yet, the holodeck gives me the biggest thrill when members of the crew use it to recreate historical events as an educational device. Imagine living through the era of the first settlers in North America. Or, what would it have been like had we lived during mediaeval times when damsels in distress were a norm. Wouldn’t that be something?

Through it all, Star Trek’s gadgets and devices can’t replace one of the greatest messages the show depicts. In the Star Trek universe, all people, regardless of race, religion or nationality live in harmony, respecting one another and each one’s ideals. As much as I would enjoy saying this is true today, the whole world has yet to follow this futuristic Utopian model.

Wouldn’t it be something if it did?

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What do you think of the Star Trek Utopia? Do you think it possible?

Posted in Monday Mayhem

Do Aliens Exist?

Star Trek always has been one of my favorite TV shows. From the original series to the more recent Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager episodes, I don’t think I missed any of them.

Star Trek: Into the Darkness
Star Trek: Into the Darkness

This is an unusual Monday Mayhem post, as it’s a story about my love for the Gene Roddenberry classic and the questions it posed about alien life forms.

I’ll never forget one winter evening in the early 90s when Star Trek: The Next Generation used to be in reruns on TV. I had just gotten home from a college class and I’d settled into watching some TV before going to bed. It must have been slightly after nine and my snack of choice was a big bag of chips. About a month before, my parents also had purchased a new 27-inch Sony TV. For the time, when the standard was twenty-five inches for a tube TV, we were at the cusp of technology.

Anyway, about halfway through an episode, there was a scene where Picard, the captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise, had requested “Tea, Earl Grey, Hot” from his quarters’ replicator. Think of the replicator as a very quick 3D printer. In the scene, he then takes his tea and sits behind his desk reading on a tablet.

I remember thinking, “It would be amazing to have one of those tablets to read from.”

Here we are now, almost thirty years later: 60-inch widescreen TVs are standard, tablets are the norm for reading, and 3D printers have gained in popularity, soon ready for purchase at reasonable consumer prices.

Is this Star Trek? We’re getting there.

Besides future technology in the present, Star Trek had also introduced aliens of various sorts and how the United Federation of Planets expressed tolerance by not interfering with alien domestic matters. Two things I’ve learned I soon would not want to forget because of the TV show’s influence: 1) humanity has yet to encounter an alien, although scientists did find sea plankton on the outer surface of the International Space Station, and 2) humanity is anything but tolerant when it comes to anything it doesn’t understand.

At this point, the first North American colonists come to mind, but that’s another story.

ESO: Milky Way [Photo credit: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.]
ESO: Milky Way [Photo credit: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.]
Thinking about aliens, and if they do exist, I’d assume they’d have a higher intelligence than humanity. For instance, they’d have to know quantum physics in order to travel the vastness of space to reach the little corner of our galaxy. They’d also have to have a certain set of governance laws that would dictate their actions toward us, much like Star Trek’s Prime Directive, which is a simple hands-off rule.

In all practicality, though, let’s think about this for a second. If there are aliens out there, much as described in the Star Trek shows, what’s to say they haven’t already arrived having taken a hands-off approach to our civilization? It would make sense—if, in fact, they are more intelligent than any one of us. They would qualify as true observers of the human condition.

In addition, let’s say they are observing us. Who’s to say they haven’t discovered that in the midst of humanity’s short history lay civilizations burnt to the ground all in the name of progress? Moreover, let’s say they’ve learned that progress also goes by another name, that name being war, and being of higher intelligence than any one of us combined, what if they’ve decided to reside in the shadows to see where we go with our progress?

With humanity’s destruction of the planet’s resources, environmental pollution and wars, of course, can anyone blame them for hiding?

Perhaps we’re not as close to real advancement as we think—at least not according to Star Trek’s mythology.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

Have you watched any of the Star Trek episodes? What do you find appealing about the show.