As we now celebrate five decades of the much-beloved Star Trek, its fantastical universe has continually made meaningful crossovers between the worlds of science fiction and real science. Since the very first episode aired back in 1966, intergalactic adventures have generally been more faithful to the foundations of science our real universe is built around than any other space-themed TV show. While some concepts like warp drive and transporters may still be relegated to a possible distant future, others such as supernovae, black holes and exoplanets have all been detected and represent the front line of astronomical research. In fact, teams of scientists around the world are hunting for the holy grail in planetary discoveries — finding a twin of Earth somewhere in our Milky Way galaxy — which many experts predict we are only a few years away from.
Long before I penned Star Trek — The Official Guide to Our Universe: The True Science Behind the Starship Voyages, my personal journey connecting the Star Trek universe with our universe began at a young age in the mid-1970s in Montreal, Canada, when I would watch Star Trek reruns religiously on Sunday mornings with my dad. I constantly asked him about the myriad of exotic, cosmic places the Enterprise would encounter. I quickly got hooked, mesmerized by the whole idea of the vastness of space. And so it was in large measure that Star Trek directly led my dad to invest in a small telescope that allowed us to launch our own personal voyage through the cosmos. Many years later, I began compiling a master list of real-life celestial objects that were counterparts to destinations Starfleet has visited over the many series and movies. Many of the galactic destinations that captured my fascination — multiple star systems, alien worlds, supernova explosions, colorful gas clouds — were scientifically valid, so much so that one can step out and view them in the night sky.I became a science news writer in 2000, put down my first outline for the book back in 2006 and finally was able to find the perfect home for it at National Geographic in 2014 for it to be released in conjunction with the 50th anniversary. I was lucky, as National Geographic offered the finest editors, designers and mapmakers one could ever hope for. And folks at CBS generously opened up their Star Trek vaults, offering up some amazing imagery and rarely seen screen shots. I knew right then that I was about to embark on my own personal Trek adventure… where no one has gone before.Countless hours were spent combing though episodes and movies, researching the science, pouring over the massive archives of Star Trek photos, and creating beginner finder star maps. The result of all that hard work? We have created a unique guidebook that for the first time offers a window connecting the two universes that will appeal to not only the fans of Star Trek, but also stargazers, educators, and anyone who has their science geek hidden inside them. My hope is that it will get people to learn about the real science within their favorite episodes and make their own personal voyages through the cosmos by looking up at the night sky. And just like the intrepid crews of Star Trek, I know my own explorations of the universe continue every time I turn my gaze toward the starry night skies.
Star Trek — The Official Guide to Our Universe: The True Science Behind the Starship Voyages is available now. Visit www.amazon.com to order it today.
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