Science Fiction vs. Science Fact

Frank Borelli

This is a different type of blog for me. This is a "for fun" blog. Trekkies will like it; other readers may just endure it. I'm going to visit science-fiction, then science-fact, back to science fiction and then, just as a special twist, I'm going to weave in some observations about the 2nd Amendment in the 24th century. Come with me now as we travel back to the mid-1960s... wee do... wee do... wee do... (see the Scooby Doo squiggling lines on your screen?) The year is 1966. A television show called Star Trek is new on the screen. NBC aired the first episode on September 8, 1966 and in doing so led America into a different way of thinking... or at least tried to. In the midst of the Cold War the starring cast of the show included a Chinese navigator and a Russian helmsman. The Communications Officer was an American-African female and the first officer was something previously unheard of: a Vulcan. Such social consciousness earned the show several awards for best dramatic series. By the same token, the show was closed down in its third season for poor ratings. Even so, the Star Trek series has gone on to spawn five more series and 11 feature movies - with a new one still in the works and slated for release later this year. Heck, even Las Vegas has a hotel (the Hilton) with a whole section based on the Star Trek theme. I don't know what made it so popular but a few things that were in it - things that used to be science fiction - have become science fact (and then some), and we're still waiting on a few more. Think about this... The electronic clipboard that Captain Kirk used to sign on was fantasy. Today though we have PDAs and tablet PCs. Not only has the electronic clipboard become reality but reality has so far passed what used to be science fiction that we don't even think about it. In fact, our current science fact is the equivalent of the PAADs used in Star Trek: The Next Generation. What about those cool communicators? Just pop it open, it chirps a bit, and you can talk to someone on the other end. Voice activated but had to be tuned. Way cool... enter Nextel a little more than a decade ago. As I type this my flip-top cell phone is sitting on my desk beside me. I can push a couple buttons and "chirp up" someone who may be as far away as California. Okay... so it's not voice activated and I'm not talking to my starship in orbit (darn it) but how cool is it? Science fact. Then there are the borderline items such as the phasers. A handheld device that fires an energy charge that can stun or kill the bad guy. We don't have phasers yet but we do have TASERs. The differences being that TASERs have wires to deliver the charge and don't have different energy delivery levels... yet. The designs have even mimicked the science fiction show's phasers. TASERs went from looking like handguns to something more resembling a television remote control. The same change occurred in phasers between the original Trek series and the Next Generation version. Finally there are the things we don't even have yet; those things that remain science fiction. Holodecks and replicators. Shuttle craft and androids. I think holodecks would be cool and would make EXCELLENT training facilities. Replicators? I'm not so sure about. Eating food that has been built by a machine that reorders molecules of waste material to make it into something else... hmmm... not so sure about that one. But let's go back a second. Let's think about the holodecks and future weapons technology. If phasers were actually made a reality, what would happen to the 2nd Amendment debate? Would phasers be considered "arms" and be included? Or, as they fired energy instead of projectiles, would they be excluded? Think about this too: right now, law enforcement agencies use Force Continuums and Use of Force policy to control their officers' actions. Firearms are lethal force. Period. No thinking about it. But what about a phaser with a sliding energy delivery level? It could be a non-lethal tool, a less-lethal tool, or a lethal force tool. So ONE tool, all of a sudden, would encompass more of the force option menu. I see LOTS more training being required to master that. And would the creation of phasers mean the end of all firearms? I don't think so. Heck, even Picard needed a gun to fight the Borg in one of the movies. And thank goodness he could have the holodeck make a gun for him. The Borg had automatic defenses against phaser fire, but they had nothing to stop a 230g FMJ ball round. That aside, technology often costs more than mechanics. TASERs are more expensive, comparatively speaking, then firearms. There are fewer shots "per dollar" in a TASER and we happily pay it because of its non-lethal capability. It's well worth it. So, what else is there in the world of Star Trek, or Star Wars for that matter, that is - so far - science fiction that we look forward to seeing as science fact? I'll leave that list up to you, the readers, to name.
About the Author

Lt. Frank Borelli (ret), Editorial Director | Editorial Director

Lt. Frank Borelli is the Editorial Director for the Officer Media Group. Frank brings 20+ years of writing and editing experience in addition to 40 years of law enforcement operations, administration and training experience to the team.

Frank has had numerous books published which are available on,, and other major retail outlets.

If you have any comments or questions, you can contact him via email at [email protected].

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