Marina Sirtis, TNG's Councillor Deanna Troi, officially welcomed the press and a few fortunate fans to the exclusive preview of the new British Science Museum's Star Trek exhibition 'Federation Science', that opened on 15th September and runs til April next year.
She told us what pushed her buttons at the 'Federation Science' exhibit:
"Whenever you'd see us on the show, we'd be sitting at our consoles with computer screens in front of us. You'd see us visibly pushing things on them, but they didn't actually do anything. We pretended they worked, of course, but they didn't!
When you go inside 'Federation Science', though, that stuff actually works. I was playing with it all day yesterday!"
We were happy to discover that our expectations had not been unduly raised...
Spock's costume from 'Star Trek V: The Final Frontier', Captain Picard's uniform from the first series of ST: TNG, and displays of paraphernalia such as Phasers and Tricorders are but the icing on the Tarvokian pound cake that awaited us.
Get to grips with Trek technology
The main thrill for me though had to be sitting at a reconstruction of the Bridge and realising that there really is a scientific method behind the technical jargon bandied around by the likes of Geordie, Scotty, Data, and Chekov.
Each console is voiced by Riker, Data, and Ship's Computer Majel Barrett. You can hear straight from them, all you ever wanted to know about inter-stellar triangulation.
The team of 'Federation Science officers' on the exhibition floor ensure that you are never left clueless by the Enterprise work stations. Not only are they well-versed in the science behind the fiction, but their Trek enthusiasm shines through admirably.
A Face like the Ferengi ..
There's a great facility that splices your facial features with those of a Klingon or the Ferengi... Unfortunately at the preview presentation, it wasn't up and running, but the 'Officers' assured me that it would be ready for the paying public.
All Good Things
It's definitely worth visiting the 'Federation Science', even if you are a Trek fan who normally places the story above the science. The die-hard fanbase may not learn much about Trek, that they didn't know before, but the novelty of actually operating the consoles you've seen on the shows and the movies, is more than enough compensation.
As Sirtis pointed out in her opening speech, in the 1960's Roddenbury foresaw such futuristic technology as automatic sliding doors, touch sensitive controls, voice recognition systems, and computer discs. So at 'Federation Science' we could well be walking around in a version of the not too distant future.
Don't forget too, that our perceptions of how technology should look are actually inspired and influenced by such imaginative creations. After all, how many of us shelled out the extra to have a flip-down moblile phone just like Kirk's communicator? Science, huh? It's not just an art, it's an attitude!
'Star Trek: Federation Science' is presently based at The British Science Museum, 10.00-18.00 from the 15/09/00 to 22/04/01. Call 0870 870 4856 for booking details.