The stories created by the writers and producers of “Star Trek” have had a way of predicting the future for years. While the long-held belief that Captain Kirk’s communicator inspired the development of the first cell phone turned out to be false, many other inventions can trace their origin or inspiration back to Trek.
Many fans point to the similarities between Apple’s iPad and the PADD tablets frequently used on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” as one of these undeniable links. When interviewed about this similarity, Trek designer Doug Drexler noted that “nothing compares to the almost alive interface of the iPad.”
Now, Google has unveiled a technology featured in “Star Trek: Discovery” — the Time Crystal.
In the first two seasons of “Discovery,” fans may recall that Time Crystals played an essential role in driving the plot forward. First, in the Season One episode, “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad,” Harry Mudd (Rainn Wilson) used a device to trap the crew in a time loop. This gadget was powered by a Time Crystal, which allowed Mudd to replay a few hours in space repeatedly.
Dwight from ‘The Office’ as Harry Mudd
That episode played out like a Trek version of the Bill Murray movie, “Groundhog Day,” or the TNG episode “Cause and Effect.” Eventually, the crew of Discovery beat Mudd and were able to go on with their lives, uninterrupted by a time loop.
This device, and other similar technologies, caused some anger among Trek fans, who said that Time Crystals were “non-canon.” It also added fuel to the flames of those who dislike “Discovery” because of the writers’ take on the science in science-fiction. Some said that the “science was bad,” while others said their “suspension of disbelief cannot take space fungus.”
Pike and his Future
In Season Two, Captain Pike (Anson Mount) encountered a Time Crystal during the episode, “Through the Valley of Shadows.” By touching the crystal, Pike was able to see his future and the gruesome fate that awaited him. His ultimate disfigurement was foretold in the classic Trek episodes, “The Menagerie” Parts I and II.
Some fans were horrified by this scene in “Discovery.” When Pike saw the future, fans watched him undergo unimaginable pain. Some said the scene was “horrific” and “disturbing.”
Now that Google has announced that they’ve created a Time Crystal, it’s important to note that the technology is “weirder than you can imagine.” Google’s achievement means that they have made a phase of matter, which “forever cycles between states without consuming energy.” The Time Crystal ‘lives’ inside a quantum computing device.
Quantum computing represents the next great leap in problem-solving for humanity. In theory, a quantum computer could help scientists create new treatments and medicine or better batteries for electric cars.
Changing the Laws of Physics
Scotty would not approve of Google’s Time Crystal, as it does what he said could not be done. It breaks the Laws of Physics, or, rather, it “evades” the laws, according to Roderich Moessner, director of the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems in Dresden, Germany.
While Google’s crystal does not allow users to stop and control the space-time continuum (as Mudd did) or see the future (like Pike), it gives researchers insight into how humans can create something never observed in the natural world.
It could be that these ‘real world’ Time Crystals share only a name with what fans saw on “Star Trek,” but both the fiction and real life versions are certainly “mind-blowing.”
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