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SciFriday: Please Don't Build The Enterprise In Real Life

White House petitions for popular sci-fi icons is fun, but shouldn't be taken seriously

The cost to build the Death Star from the original "Star Wars: A New Hope"? $850 quadrillion. Forcing the White House to respond to a petition to get the Death Star? Priceless.

Yet, as fun as it is to talk about a real Death Star or even another petition to build the USS Enterprise, we have to remember that this is all it is: fun.

I'm sure that's what the petition writers for the Death Star request were thinking -- let's get 25,000 signatures in a month's time, and force the White House to release an official statement on a true science-fiction icon. And it worked.

But a second proposal, which is proposing the U.S. government build a life-size replica of the USS Enterprise is not tongue-in-cheek at all. In fact, the man behind the movement -- known only at "BTE-Dan" -- is quite serious.

He really believes that a replica of the Enterprise could have multiple uses, including a space station and even as a way to carry 1,000 people from planet to planet -- complete with artificial gravity. The ship would not be interstellar, since warp drive is fiction (for now), but it would truly put Gene Roddenberry's vision in space.

Except that there are far more economical ways to do exactly what BTE-Dan is proposing, and not spending hundreds of billions of dollars to build a fangasm object (and that's just the licensing fee from CBS Television and Paramount Pictures).

Even if BTE-Dan never gets his wish, which I hope he doesn't, we can't ignore the ideas that he's bringing to the table. And I hope that is actually what Dan is trying to do. The science behind the concept is amazing, and the idea of being able to go round trip in something luxurious to the Moon or Mars (since it would take a few months) sounds much more appealing than, say, the Apollo 13 capsule.

And the nice part? It would cost far less to build the Enterprise. Just a little under $1 trillion, according to BTE-Dan. That's at least more in line with America's budget deficit, than $850 quadrillion, which is more than all the money in the world.

Both petitions should do one big thing, which is what the White House was focusing on in its response: Encourage people both young and old to go into the sciences. While there are great dreamers of what life could be like, people like George Lucas and Gene Roddenberry, it takes real scientific minds to help make that happen.

And look what's already been inspired? Next to me right now is a cell phone that beats Capt. Kirk's communicator by a long shot, and an iPad that I lovingly call an "iPadd."

The future is hitting us fast and hard, and it's thanks to dreamers like those behind the Death Star petition and even BTE-Dan, that is encouraging everyone to realize that the impossible is not really impossible. It's actually possible.

If there were $850 quadrillion in the world, that is.

About the Author

Michael Hinman is the founder and editor-in-chief for Airlock Alpha and the entire GenreNexus. He owns Nexus Media Group Inc., the parent corporation of the GenreNexus and is a veteran print journalist. He lives in Tampa, Fla.
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