Star Trek technology

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The Star Trek technology is the totality of the science fiction of -Fernsehserien and movies Star Trek franchise occurring fictional devices and techniques. In part, the authors tried to standardize the terms used for the fictitious techniques across series and films. Some invented terms are just variations of existing words, such as Tricorder from Recorder and Dilithium from Lithium , while other terms such as Heisenberg Compensator are a scientific joke .

Fiction and feasibility

Although the design of the devices shown there essentially followed financial and dramaturgical necessities, as a result of the increasing popularity of Star Trek, these fictitious techniques were examined by some physicists for compatibility with the laws of physics known today. Some of the techniques shown in the series and films were not ruled out as fundamentally impossible. In particular, the everyday technology shown is now partially normal, but was unthinkable at the time the series were produced. When the first series of the Raumschiff Enterprise franchise was produced in the 1960s , for example, handy communication devices such as cell phones and handhelds , speech recognition systems , computed tomography and small and portable computers were not yet technically possible.

Many of the techniques that play a key role in the dramaturgy of the productions, however, were assessed as physically impossible or technically not feasible.

Effects and dramaturgy

In the representation of many technical details, the Star Trek series set the style for later science fiction films. In some cases, the producers and designers of the series used older films in the genre, adopted ideas and developed them further.

Sound , special and visual effects were used over and over again to give the audience an orientation aid in the futuristic environment and to increase the tension. To increase the atmosphere, many processes were underlaid with noises that should not be heard in reality or whose creation would not be necessary. Sound waves can not propagate in the almost material-free vacuum of space . Nevertheless, flying spaceships , the firing of weapons and explosions created a corresponding background noise. This point is only considered in the 2009 film . The opening and closing of the automatic doors on board the Enterprise was accompanied by noises reminiscent of pneumatic mechanisms.

The shapes and flight movements of the spaceships were only apparently realistic, as they were more oriented towards the requirements for missiles in an atmosphere. Some of the spacecraft had an aerodynamic shape, flew in a straight line through space, but then leaned into the curve as if aerodynamic lift forces were to be used to change direction. All ships moved largely in one plane with the same orientation from above and below as planes in the air, although this is unnecessary in space. This was also due to the original attachment of the models to rods that were not allowed to cross ( motion control photography ). When computer animation allowed more free movement sequences, this form of movement was already so established that it was initially largely retained and was only given up several times in the Star Trek movie from 2009. The aerodynamic shape is explained by the fact that the over-light flight ( warp ) only works technically without "damaging" space; This aspect is further refined by the swiveling warp gondolas of the USS Voyager. Although there is no “above” and “below” in space due to the lack of a reference system , several spaceships always met in such a way that they stood “upright” opposite each other; whereby the command bridge was "up" on almost all types of spaceships. The exception were wrecked ships or abandoned space stations, which from the viewer's perspective were mostly "crooked" in relation to the Enterprise. In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan , however , Captain Kirk takes advantage of Khan's (who had been frozen since 1996) inexperience in three-dimensional combat.

Another design element was the unrealistic representation of energy beams used as weapons (compare phasers ). These would be extremely ineffective if they emitted visible light from the side and only moved at the speed of a projectile or even slower, so that people could dodge a shot that was already fired by jumping to the side.

Almost every technical component of a ship failed in some space battle or for other reasons. For dramaturgical reasons, the engine and weapons were particularly vulnerable. However, the artificial gravity generator continued to work without any problems even in the event of a complete power and system failure - with one exception in the movie Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Land , where the higher budget allowed such effects. If the ships were hit in combat, there were regular flying sparks or fire on fittings on the bridge, even though they had not been hit directly. Although unrealistic, it allowed a dramatic depiction of the dangers the crew was currently facing.

Star Trek Technique


Impulse drive (lower light drive)

Spaceships in the Star Trek universe are accelerated by the so-called impulse drive in order to move below the speed of light ( below the speed of light ). The speed is given as a percentage of the maximum speed, ie "full impulse", "half impulse", but it is unknown which speed this corresponds to, as is the exact functionality. In the reference work published for the series Spaceship Enterprise - The Next Century , The Technology of the USS Enterprise , which was written among others by Michael Okuda , it is explained that the impulse drive is operated by nuclear fusion . It also states that full momentum corresponds to 25% of the speed of light, because undesirable relativistic effects occur at higher speeds. In principle, however, this form of propulsion has no speed limit, apart from the natural speed of light barrier.

Warp drive (superlight drive)

According to Star Trek physics, it is possible for a spaceship to overcome interstellar distances with the help of the so-called warp drive.

Getting around faster than light in the Star Trek world is probably one of the most debated points. According to Star Trek physics, it is possible for a spaceship to overcome interstellar distances with the help of the so-called warp drive without coming into conflict with the laws of relativity . The respective spaceship reaches its destination faster than light, but moves within the warp bubble generated by the space-time-bending drive at sub-light speed - the spaceship is not accelerated faster than light , but the path is shortened.

In the timeline on which the series is based, the technology was further developed after its invention in 2063 to become the predominant type of propulsion for human spaceflight and later to become transwarp propulsion. In contrast to the Alcubierian warp drive, exotic matter is dispensed with and a fictitious, higher-dimensional subspace is used instead . The naming of the drive components also differs. While Alcubierre speaks of warp bubble and expansion and contraction , the equivalent components in Star Trek are called warp field or spatial distortion . However, the word warp bubble also occurs in the episode The Experiment by TNG , but in a different context.

In the episodes of the original series Raumschiff Enterprise , synchronized by ZDF , the warp drive was also referred to as the “Sol” drive. This term (supposedly short for S peed O ver L ight ) is originally from the British science fiction series UFO .


The warp technique was used by extraterrestrial civilizations such as B. used by the Vulcans before their development on earth. On Earth, the Zefram Cochrane warp drive was developed in Bozeman , Montana , during and after World War III in the mid-21st century . Cochrane used a fusion reactor to drive the plasma , which he then sent through warp coils , creating a stable warp field bubble. From the components of a decommissioned intercontinental ballistic missile of the type LGM-25C Titan II , he developed the Phoenix , with whom he first human on April 5, 2063 Space Flight 1 (at warp speed of light ) undertook. The flight was registered by the volcanic research vessel T'Plana Hath , which then made its first peaceful contact with human civilization. Cochrane gained fame throughout the known galaxy, and schools like Zefram Cochrane High School , cities and even planets were named after him. In his honor, the physical warp field unit is also known as the Cochrane . The events surrounding Cochrane's invention are detailed in Star Trek: The First Contact . According to other sources (the episode Metamorphosis from 1967), Cochrane's invention was made in 2061.

Speed ​​scale
Graphic of the warp field. The spaceship remains in a bubble of normal space.

There is a speed scale for the warp drive in Star Trek . The speed at which a warp-driven spaceship moves in the Star Trek episodes is usually only given with a warp factor . Warp 1 corresponds to the simple speed of light c , and with higher factors the speed increases exponentially. According to Gene Roddenberry's specifications , the original Enterprise should have a maximum speed of 0.73 light years per hour, which corresponds to about 6395 times the speed of light, although he has left the associated warp factor open. This warp scale is not consistent across all Star Trek series and has been changed several times in the course of production. A well-known example of such a change can be found in the final episode Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow from the series Spaceship Enterprise - The Next Century . Although Warp 10 was introduced as the highest possible warp factor in the first year of production in the episode The Traveler , spaceships of the alternate timeline shown in the final episode can fly with warp factor 13.

In the Spaceship Voyager series , instead of a constant warp factor, a constant average speed of movement was introduced, which was associated with various warp factors. In the pilot of the series, the top speed of the USS Voyager is given as a warp factor of 9.975. In the episode The Swarm from the third season, the highest continuous flight speed over more than 12 hours is given with a warp factor of 9.75. In the sixth season of the episode The Boy Scout Project , the average speed of the Voyager is assumed by the scientists at Starfleet to be a warp factor of 6.2. In the pilot film and in various episodes of the first three seasons, it is repeatedly stated that the journey home to Earth, which at the time is more than 70,000 light years away, would take about 70 years. In the fourth season, a remaining flight time of 60 years is specified in several episodes for a remaining distance of 60,000 light years. This scheme of 1 year flight time at a distance of 1000 light years is consistently maintained throughout the series. In the last episodes of the seventh season, for example, 30 years of flight time to Earth are spoken of, although the spaceship is still about 30,000 light years away from Earth during these episodes.

In the various reference works for the films and series, the respective book authors introduced two roughly geometrically increasing scales . The original cubic scale by Franz Joseph ( Star Trek Technical Manual ) was open at the top, while the later scale by Michael Okuda ( The Technology of the USS Enterprise ) was only defined from 0 to 10. On Okuda's scale, which is based on a power function , the exponent for the warp factors 1 through 9 is constant at 10/3 . For the values ​​between 9 and 10 in the book Star Trek Encyclopedia by Michael Okuda, an increasing exponent curve was given for the warp scale. Warp factor 10 was represented as an infinite and therefore practically unattainable speed.

Warp factor Speed ​​according to the original scale
(Franz Joseph)
Speed ​​according to the changed scale
(Michael Okuda)
Canonical reference
1 Speed ​​of Light Speed ​​of Light
2 8 times the speed of light 10 times the speed of light In the episode Death Station from the Star Trek: Enterprise series , it is said that the Enterprise would take about a decade (10 years) travel time to travel 130 light years with Warp 2. Warp 2 is about 13 times the speed of light.
3 27 times the speed of light 39 times the speed of light In the episode The Collector from the series Starship Enterprise - The Next Century , a flight distance of 0.102 light years (about 970 billion kilometers) at Warp 3 is given with a flight time of 23 hours. This corresponds to a cruising speed of 11.7 million kilometers per second or about 39 times the speed of light
4th 64 times the speed of light 102 times the speed of light In the Decisions episode from the Spaceship Voyager series , it is said that a Voyager shuttle would take about 700 years of flight time to travel 70,000 light years back to Earth. From this it follows that Warp 4, the mentioned maximum speed of the shuttle, corresponds to about 100 times the speed of light or about 30 million kilometers per second.
5 125 times the speed of light 213 times the speed of light In the episode The Expanse , Captain Archer says that the flight to the Delphic Expanse is a 3-month trip at the top speed of the Enterprise (from Warp 5). When the Enterprise arrives, the distance to Earth is given as 50 light years. Thus, Warp 5 corresponds to about 200 times the speed of light here.
6th 216 times the speed of light 392 times the speed of light
7th 343 times the speed of light 656 times the speed of light In the episode from the series Star Trek: Enterprise is to Enterprise for a meeting with Degra fly through a 11.6 light-years long Subraumkorridor. However, there is a time travel, with the Enterprise being thrown 127 years into the past. When the older Enterprise encounters its younger counterpart (to warn them), Captain Lorian suggests modifying the warp drive so that the younger Enterprise can reach warp factor 6.9 for a short time, and thus this distance in about two days can travel without using the corridor. So Warp 6.9 corresponds to about 2117 times the speed of light.
8th 512 times the speed of light 1024 times the speed of light
9 729 times the speed of light 1516 times the speed of light In the episode Bok's Retribution from the series Starship Enterprise - The Next Century , Riker claims that the Enterprise would need around 20 minutes of flight time to fly 300 billion kilometers at Warp 9. In this situation, warp factor 9 corresponds to a speed of 900 billion kilometers per hour (= 250 million kilometers per second) or about 830 times the speed of light.
9.9 970.30 times the speed of light 3053 times the speed of light In the episode The 37's from the Spaceship Voyager series , Warp 9.9 is equated to 4 billion miles per second, which is about 21,468 times faster than the speed of light.
9.99 997.00 times the speed of light 7912 times the speed of light According to the episode The Threshold , the conventional scale ends at a warp factor of 9.99 and thus below the threshold for transwarp .
9.9999 999.97 times the speed of light 1995 16 times the speed of light
10 1000 times the speed of light infinite speed In the episode The Threshold from the series Spaceship Voyager , Warp 10 is given as infinite speed. Nevertheless, in an experiment with a new type of warp drive, a warp factor of 10 was briefly reached by a shuttle of the USS Voyager, whereby the pilot said he was everywhere in the universe at the same time.
11 1331 times the speed of light out of scale In the episode Rock and Dust , the USS Enterprise is taken over by Kelvanern. The drive is modified by them so that Warp 11 can be reached permanently. This should cover the flight distance to the Andromeda galaxy of around 2.5 million light years in less than 300 years. This corresponds to a flight speed of at least 8333 times the speed of light.
12 1728 times the speed of light out of scale
13 2197 times the speed of light out of scale Top speed of the USS Pasteur and USS Enterprise in a future timeline in the closing episode Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow from the series Starship Enterprise - The Next Century
14th 2744 times the speed of light out of scale
15th 3375 times the speed of light out of scale

For the calculation of the speeds between the given values, fans, physicists and Star Trek employees worked out various complicated formulas in the literature, but these never became official. In most episodes, spaceships move at much higher speeds than would be possible according to the warp scale published for the respective series.

Energy sources

In order to be able to make the use of the warp drive plausible, a special energy source and additional units were introduced, the construction of which again raises various physical problems. The Star Trek writers came up with the following ideas:

  • The large amounts of energy necessary for a warp drive be a fictitious antimatter - reactor produces, in addition to the drive, the other ship systems, such as protective shields and weapons energized. The matter-antimatter particles in the warp core react ( annihilate ) with each other and energy is created. This is discharged via the laterally suspended from the spaceship warp gondolas, so that a warp field (space-time bubble) is generated by means of the so-called subspace the curved space-time . As long as the warp field is active, the spaceship now moves at warp speed. Since it is on the boundary between normal space and compact subspace within its warp field in its own local "universe", the laws of physics are not violated according to this theory; within its own "universe" the spaceship does not move faster than the speed of light. The subspace serves as a mediator between the warp field and the space-time continuum.
  • In later episodes, the authors also introduced extraterrestrial variants of the warp drive that use so-called quantum singularities as an energy source. The way in which the energy is extracted from the black hole was, however, left completely open and offers room for numerous speculations to this day.
  • Furthermore, there are numerous purely fictitious energy sources such as the Tetryon reactor or the subspace generator , which were only used as so-called plot devices in individual episodes and were never explained in detail.
Alternative overlight drives

In some episodes, alternative overlight drives to the warp drive are also developed. The authors wanted to create the freedom to cover large distances for individual episodes. An author's note in the book The Tech of the USS Enterprise puts it this way: "And finally, we had to create a back door for various powerful aliens like Q who have the knack of throwing the ship millions of light-years across space in one commercial break."

Alternative techniques: transwarp, coaxial warp and quantum slipstream propulsion

The term transwarp was used a few times in various Star Trek episodes, both in connection with the propulsion technology of the Borg and other highly developed races as well as with a Starfleet development project in Star Trek III: In Search of Mr. Spock . It is an alternative superluminal drive technology that makes use of other physical effects of the fictitious subspace.

An example of this is provided by the Borg, who developed so-called transwarp centers. These are stationary structures that are supposed to enable transwarp journeys through so-called transwarp channels (tube or hose-like space-time continuums within the fictitious subspace). At least five of these Transwarp centers exist in the Star Trek universe (the sixth was in the episode final by the USS Voyager destroyed). Otherwise, the Borg also use transwarp coils on their spaceships, which also allow access to the transwarp channels outside the transwarp centers. In the VOY episode The Uncertain Darkness , such a coil is stolen by the crew of the USS Voyager in order to shorten the journey home by 10 years.

Other races, for example, use space folding (referred to in Star Trek as coaxial warp or space traction ) to achieve higher speeds than Starfleet (these variants were mentioned in the Voyager episodes The Supreme Law and Vis-a-Vis ). In the more recent episodes ( In Fear and Hope and Temporal Paradoxie ) of the Voyager series , the quantum slipstream drive, which is in the experimental stage, was also presented and used in a first field test. However, the lack of controllability of maneuvering in the slipstream generated by the drive made testing too dangerous for the time being.

Further examples:

  • Xindi subspace vortices
  • Voth transwarp drive
Stationary warp drive: soliton wave, subspace catapult and artificial wormholes

In addition to the mobile variants, the episodes The Soliton Wave from Spaceship Enterprise - The Next Century and The Voyager Conspiracy from Voyager also experimented with stationary superlight drives such as the Soliton Wave or the subspace catapult, which were supposed to transport a spaceship to warp speed using a stationary drive system. Ultimately, the authors also resorted to the idea of ​​creating artificial wormholes several times . In Star Trek: The Movie , one such wormhole was created by a warp drive malfunction. The plot of the episode Reunited from the series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine revolves entirely around the deliberate creation of artificial wormholes by the Federation.

Further examples:

  • Geodesic fold
  • Caregiver shift wave
Further possibilities of flight faster than light

In addition to technical solutions, there are also exotic phenomena that are of natural origin and can move spaceships at faster than light speed.

A well-known example are the Bajoran solar sail spaceships, which can be accelerated to faster than light by naturally occurring tachyon vortices. Captain Sisko builds such a spaceship with his son Jake in the episode The Explorers and travels in this way from Deep Space 9 to Cardassia. The use of naturally existing wormholes is also possible. The entire DS9 series revolves around a space station on the edge of the so-called Bajoran wormhole, the only known wormhole in Federation space, both ends of which have a stable position in space and time. This wormhole is not a natural phenomenon, but was created by timeless beings called "prophets" by the Bajorans . The so-called Barzan wormhole, long thought to be stable but actually not, was a commodity in the TNG episode The Barzan Trade at a negotiation between the Barzans and several Alpha Quadrant powers like the Federation and the Ferengi.

Another example of an alternate drive is the spur drive introduced in Star Trek: Discovery Season 1, Episode 3. This uses a so-called mycell network to cover great distances with spores. The spur drive , as used on the USS Discovery and USS Glenn, was designed by Lt. Paul Stamets developed. With this type of drive, jumps over great distances and even between different parallel universes are possible, since the mycell network exists outside the multiverse . According to Paul Stamets, a supercomputer is required to navigate through this network . Since this does not exist, a tardigrade was used on the USS Glenn . After the destruction of the Glenn, it will be transferred to the USS Discovery. There it turns out that this space creature acted as a mediator between the mycelium network and the ship. However, this means that the tardigrade suffers pain and ultimately cannot fulfill its function on the USS Discovery. However, Paul Stamets connected to the DNA of the tardigrade. Since then he has acted as an intermediary between the mycellular network and the USS Discovery.

Further examples:

  • Intermittent cyclical vortices
  • Kerr loop (a wormhole through space and time)
  • Space vortex
  • Vaadwaur subspace corridors
  • Subspace flow field
  • Subspace column
  • Subspace funnel

Borg technology


In addition to many different sensors, the generator for the deflector shield is also located in the deflector bowl; it can be seen on almost all Federation spaceships as a clear parabolic mirror on the hull. It is used to deflect particles and smaller asteroids in the flight path. Otherwise, these could damage the outer shell at faster than light speeds.

The deflector is often used for scientific experiments when the ship is at a standstill. By adapting the deflector, energetic rays can be emitted. In the film First Contact , Worf and Picard prevent the Borg from modifying the deflector into a communication phalanx. In the TNG series, La Forge uses a ship's deflector to send a “feedback pulse” to the weapon bank of an attacking ship.


In the Star Trek Series which is holodeck represented as a space in which any virtual worlds using a combination of holography - technique replicators can be simulated and. In contrast to actually existing virtual reality and CAVE systems, the depicted environments, objects and people can not only be perceived visually and acoustically , but also haptically realistically, so that the user feels a sense of complete immersion .

Schröter (2003) described the holodeck - taking up a lecture title by computer graphics pioneer Ivan Sutherland - as the " phantasm of the ultimate display" - as a "space that can create any environment audiovisually, haptically and [...] also olfactory and gustatory ."

Movie virtuality

The representations of the holodeck in the films and series are different: in some episodes of the second Star Trek series, simulated complex matter (such as holographic people) dissolves outside the holodeck in the holodeck, while in other episodes simple objects are taken from the holodeck can. One episode mentions that the holodeck, similar to a replicator, is able to generate matter or beam it into the holodeck by transporter . If someone drinks wine in the holodeck, this is replicated shortly before the moment of drinking and thus materialized. The connection between the spatial extent of the holodeck and the limitation of the accessible virtual world created in it is presented differently: In one episode, a protagonist throws an object at the wall of the holodeck, which reacts with a brief distortion of the image. In other episodes, on the other hand, visitors to the holodeck seem to move without spatial boundaries, even though they should have hit a wall long ago, which is often explained by a force field that prevents actual movement like a treadmill. An important dramaturgical element of the holodeck technology shown are the so-called security protocols, which, despite the haptic dimension of the virtual surroundings, should rule out dangerous injuries to the protagonists.


Lawrence M. Krauss sees in his 1996 investigation - even assuming very advanced technology - no conceivable underlying functionality for the realization of such an idea.

Tangible 3D projections are the basis of the holodeck. Researchers at the University of Tokyo have on the SIGGRAPH presented in 2009 in New Orleans a Holoprojektion which exerts pressure on contact. This makes projections feel like solid objects. Raindrops on the hand are clearly visible and palpable.

Jefferies tube

Jefferies tubes are standardized maintenance shafts in the starships of the Star Fleet . They are used to reach all systems on board the spaceships or stations. Because they are very narrow, people have to crawl through the Jefferies tubes. In the early episodes of Starship Enterprise - The Next Century , they were called Jeffries Tubes . Only in the series Voyager and the eighth Star Trek film are Jefferies tubes visible, which can be accessed directly from a ship deck; however, they could also be between the decks. As a rule, Jefferies tubes are arranged horizontally and at a 90 ° angle, but sometimes also vertically and can only be reached by climbing over ladders. Ladders can also be used to climb back and forth between different decks.

Jefferies tubes are often used as a dramaturgical element because they are very narrow and poorly lit. They appear scary and are not infrequently used to create a feeling of fear in the viewer, especially in connection with mysterious processes that take place there.

The name of these shafts goes back to Walter M. Jefferies , who as a model builder for Paramount Pictures designed the model of the first USS Enterprise for Star Trek .

Force field

Force fields can be used as a variation of shield technology to cordon off ship corridors. Furthermore, as an invisible “structural integrity field”, they can give the ship's hull the necessary strength to withstand attacks and to withstand strong accelerations. In the event of damage to the ship's structure - for example in the event of an accident or combat operations - force fields can act as a bulkhead .

Force fields can also be specifically permeable for certain things. For example, the atmosphere in the shuttle bay is maintained while ferries can pass freely. There are also quarantine force fields on hospital wards for isolation purposes.

Artificial gravity

In the Star Trek universe, gravity can be created artificially , but it can also be canceled. Gravity is easily available on spaceships in weightless space, and large ships like the Voyager or the Enterprise in the Kelvin timeline can land and take off on planetary surfaces without suffering structural damage. The spaceships of the Federation and also those of most of the other races are divided into a clear top / bottom structure (even the decentralized ships of the Borg ), the gravity conditions are mostly similar to those of the earth. The technical background is hardly explained. The fact that gravity hardly fails even when a spaceship is severely damaged is initially due to cost reasons and has only rarely been implemented dramatically (see section Effects and Dramaturgy ). Michael Okuda is said to have indicated that the gravitational field generators are to be understood in a similar way to hot stovetops and that they still have a gravitational effect for a while after a ship-wide system failure.


LCARS- themed consoles on a regional television show in the US

LCARS is a fictional graphical user interface that can be seen in Star Trek productions on the control consoles of the spaceships. The abbreviation stands for LCARS L ibrary C omputer A ccess and R etrieval S ystem (in German: "Library computer access and retrieval system"). The acronym was invented by screenwriter Dorothy Fontana . The interface was designed by "Scenic Art Supervisor" Michael Okuda , which is why the static background graphics and computer animations are called Okudagrams . In an interview, Okuda stated that LCARS is a user-friendly and intuitive interface that adapts to the user and not the other way around. In his opinion, this was partly implemented very poorly by the operating systems that existed at the time . LCARS is the Linux for fun also -Gemeinde with L inux C to A lso R un S tarships (engl. For "Linux also spaceships can control") translated.

LCARS appeared for the first time in episodes of Starship Enterprise: The Next Century through Star Trek: Voyager .

In the real world, touch screens are used, which is roughly equivalent to the fictitious LCARS technology.

A LCARS - Interface can provide information about the ship's status and operation. LCARS is supplemented by the voice-controlled interface already introduced in TOS and has been adapted to the current design from TNG to DS9 to the movies; thus it always stayed up to date. Even in Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda television series, there is an AI-driven version of LCARS that is very different from the Federation's LCARS .

There are now LCARS user interfaces for Windows and Linux operating systems, which at least optically enable LCARS on the home PC.


The abbreviation PADD stands for P ersonal A ccess D isplay D evice , in German as "Personal access and display device". In the series it serves as a portable interface between the computer core and the crew member. There are personal PADDs and those that are reserved to be passed on to crew members. The display of a PADD is controlled by LCARS .

The acronym "PADD" was suggested by Star Trek's scientific adviser Richard Arnold in the early days of the series. It refers to the word notepad or writing pad.

Real devices with comparable functionality and appearance are: Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), Smart Display , Ultra-Mobile PC , tablet computer and, more recently, iPad and competing products based on Android from numerous providers (Samsung, Toshiba, WeTab etc.) . The PDA was supposedly inspired by the PADD.


So-called replicators make it possible to create any object that has been previously recorded or programmed in its atomic structure. This is mainly used to produce everyday items, for example food, but the replicator is not limited to such. In the Deep Space Nine series , the entrance to a wormhole is even blocked with mines that replicate themselves to replace exploded, neighboring mines.

However, the replicator is not perfect, a few times it is said or suggested that “real” food tastes better. The synthesis at the molecular level instead of at the quantum level, on which the transporter system works, for example , is a possible reason why replicated dishes sometimes taste worse than “real” food.

This explains why some substances such as the liquid “latinum” (which is made into a paste in gold for better handling ) cannot be produced at all or at least cannot be produced equally (similar to synthetic versus “real” diamonds). This can also be explained from a dramaturgical point of view, because otherwise any wealth could be amassed with it. In the federation, in which material problems - not least thanks to this technology - have largely been eliminated, this is not relevant, since currency is no longer used. When interacting with other species, especially the Ferengi , dramaturgical tricks had to be used so that fictional, unreplicable substances have a comprehensible value, just like “latinum pressed into gold”. Likewise, the replication of the Borg's transwarp coils was declared impossible, which would have significantly shortened the USS Voyager's journey home.

A possible explanation for the fact that replicators only store the data in a molecular way is that, in contrast to the transporter, the data must be stored permanently and the exact storage of the quantum states would require much more storage space and is not permanently stable.

The forerunners of the replicator are the food distributor on the USS Enterprise (NCC 1701) and the protein sequencer on the Enterprise (NX-01) .

Food distributor

As a food distributor , a ship-wide system for distribution of food is called in the 23rd century. The technology is much less developed than that of the replicator , which is why the food distributor is considered its forerunner. The "programming" of the food distributor is done via cassette-like modules that have to be inserted into the food distributor in order to receive the desired food.

The term food distributor is used in colloquial language in the 24th century.

Protein sequencer

The protein sequencer, or protein converter, is a device aboard the Enterprise (NX-01) that can be used to convert proteins into a finished meal. It is used in particular to produce food that is not on board.

Ship computer

The ship's computer of the Enterprise combines many functions, including the integration of all subsystems and the computer systems of the subdivisions. It can be operated interactively , voice-controlled and via displays and is used, among other things, for communication and navigation. Even if the ship's computer performs most of its functions inconspicuously in the background, it is also a dialogue partner when crew members address verbal inquiries to it, which are introduced with the activation word “Computer!”.

The ship's computer takes on the functions of a semantic search engine and an intelligent personal assistant . From around 2012 onwards, such applications were particularly widespread on smartphones . Currently (mid-2019) there are Google Assistant , Siri (Apple), Alexa ( Amazon Echo ), Cortana (Microsoft), Bixby (Samsung), Hallo Magenta (Telekom) and HiVoice (Huawei).

The ship's computer on the Enterprise was originally spoken by Majel Barrett and in the German dubbed version by Eva-Maria Werth .

Subspace and subspace communication

The subspace is the Star Trek version of the concept of an extra-dimensional hyperspace, popular in science fiction . In Star Trek this space is not physically perceptible, there are no journeys by spaceships into this subspace and there is also no visual representation from the interior of this subspace. In the Voyager episode Real Life , Tom Paris is pulled in a shuttle through a so-called astral vortex into a layer between normal space and subspace. This layer was represented as a stormy region with cloud-like structures and tornado-like funnels. Otherwise, the subspace appears as a visual representation mostly only in connection with spatial anomalies such as subspace gaps, subspace cracks or other exotic faults within the space-time continuum.

By drawing on the subspace concept dramatically important fictional techniques such as long distance are real-time communication, time travel and flights with superluminal explained. Often derived terms from the word subspace are formed for this, for example subspace energy, subspace field, subspace spectrum, subspace coil or subspace wave, which are then used to explain the function of fictitious technical devices.

The portrayal of the concept of subspace communication in the series is inconsistent: while in most of the episodes of the series an undelayed communication is depicted many light years across hyperspace, the protagonists occasionally have to wait several days for a message if the respective dramaturgy requires it.

Inertia damper

In order to eliminate the forces generated when the spaceships accelerate , an inertial damper is used in Star Trek . However, a “real” inertia damper would also compensate for the forces that occur during space battles, so that nobody would have to hold on to the consoles. For dramaturgical reasons, space battles in Star Trek produce impressive vibrations within the spaceships. Fans usually object to this argument that a hit also causes a malfunction of the damper and the shock arises from it.

In the Technical Manual for Spaceship Enterprise - The Next Century by Rick Sternbach and Michael Okuda it is explained that the inertia damper needs a certain amount of time to register and then compensate for movements of the ship, for example when changing direction or impacts. Nevertheless, the effect is probably due to the same dramaturgical problem as the exploding of the consoles when the spaceship is hit in a battle. There is no technical idea of ​​how an inertial damper works, but an explanation could be found in the Higgs particles , which give matter its mass.

Tractor beam

Tractor beams are energy beams that are related to the artificial gravity system. They are used to hold other objects in place. They can also be used to pull in other spaceships, deflect and push away asteroids that are too big for the deflector, and steer shuttles safely into the hangar.


The transporter is a fictional device shown in the Star Trek series and films that makes it possible to transport objects and people from one place to another in the shortest possible time. Among the protagonists of the series of the process itself as "beaming" (from English to beam - beam ), respectively. Beaming is one of the best-known concepts from Star Trek productions and has found its way into everyday culture in a variety of ways. The term "beaming" has established itself as Anglicism in German. “ Beam me up, Scotty ” (German: “Beam me up, Scotty”) is the most famous sentence in Star Trek history, but was never actually uttered in this wording by any character in an ST series or movie.

In the first Star Trek series Spaceship Enterprise of the 1960s, teleportation was introduced for reasons of cost in order to be able to save time-consuming and costly landing sequences on foreign planets in production. There is evidence that the producer Gene Roddenberry , the Beaming had already incorporated in his designs for the series before the issue of costs played a role. Roddenberry once admitted in a conversation with astronaut Alan Shepard that he had no idea how to land “such a thing” (meaning a spacecraft) on a planet. So he stole the concept of teleportation from the film Die Fliege and perfected it so that two bodies teleported at the same time no longer exchange anything. That is why it is no longer called "teleportation", but rather "beaming".

The concept of beaming throws from today's scientific point of view on a number of issues that as shown in Star Trek, do it, probably longer impossible.

Heisenberg compensator

  • According to Heisenberg's uncertainty principle , it is not possible to determine the location as well as the speed and direction of a subatomic particle at any given time. In Star Trek, this problem is circumvented by the so-called Heisenberg compensator . When asked how the Heisenberg compensator works, Michael Okuda replied succinctly: "It works very well, thank you." On the other hand, the probability of these particles being located is clearly defined by their individual wave functions, for example electron orbitals in atoms, so that an exact position and motion determination would not be necessary for transmission. However, it is not clear whether a transmission of the wave function is possible at all and without collapse (compare interpretations of quantum mechanics ).
  • To break the atomic bond, the atoms of the object to be beamed, for example a person, would have to be exposed to very high amounts of energy. These amounts of energy would produce such high temperatures and radiation locally that the immediate surroundings of the transporter and the transporter themselves would be destroyed.
  • From a philosophical point of view, the question arises as to whether the individual is not being killed and a twin or clone is produced by him. Something like that, caused by the presence of special plants in the transport beam , occurs in the VOY episode Tuvix . The streams of matter from Neelix and Tuvok mix after an external assignment to form a new individual, which entails a number of moral aspects for and against the separation of the two individuals through a marking process developed by the holodoctor.
  • It is also unclear what happens to the consciousness of the transported people, since it has not been fully clarified whether the consciousness, i.e. mind and soul, is only in the body itself. As Hoshi subsequently Missing (Engl. Vanishing Point ) first used the van, she has a during the eight seconding ended beaming lucid dream , of her appears like a whole day. In the TNG episode fear of death while beaming , Lt. Barclay found beings during the burial, which later turn out to be missing persons.

With quantum teleportation , it has been possible in reality to transfer the properties of one atomic particle to another. However, this must not be confused with the beaming shown in the Star Trek productions.

Overlight teleportation

In addition to the ordinary Starfleet transport, which is also used by most races, there are also a number of alternative fictional developments. These aim to teleport things at faster than light speeds over greater distances. Different physical principles are used, for example teleportation by means of spatial folding, without complete dissolution of the object to be beamed. Sometimes they are used as an alternative to a superlight drive, but often primarily as an additional military means. There is even a complete series of novels called Gateways via the universal portals of the Iconians , a well-known exponent of this technology .


  • Iconian Portal ( Gateway )
  • Nyrian translocator
  • Rutian inverter
  • Sicarian space trajector
  • Spur drive of the USS Discovery and USS Glenn
  • Subquantum Transporter
  • Subspace transporter
  • Transwarp beaming
  • Zenotaph (transport by means of "subspace vacuoles")

Time and alternative reality teleportation

There are also transport devices that are able to travel through time or move people into other realities.


  • Atavachron
  • Guardian of Eternity
  • multidimensional transporter
  • Temporal transporter of the future Starfleet
  • Vosks time channel
  • Time portal on Golana


The tricorder - also written as “tricorder” - is a handy device that can measure a wide variety of physical or medical parameters, depending on the variant. A tricorder can also be used to determine whether there are people ("signs of life") in the immediate vicinity. How this should work is not explained - according to an official source, there should be over 200 different sensors in the Tricorder. Two flavors are common, the scientific tricorder for science officers and the normal crew and the medical tricorder for medical personnel that specializes in accurate medical diagnosis and biological measurements. The Scientific Tricorder, on the other hand, is only suitable for physical measurements and only for measuring signs of life and, at best, for supporting first aid measures. The first devices in the series had a striking resemblance to commercially available portable cassette recorders . The optionally applied smaller module (used mostly by the ship's doctor for investigation) was equipped with flashing lights salt shaker from glass .

Vital Technologies Corporation started selling a measuring device in 1996 that is similar to a tricorder and can also measure different sizes.

In May 2011, the X-Prize Foundation awarded a US $ 10 million prize to those who develop a mobile device that "can diagnose patients better than or as well as a panel of licensed physicians." The Tricorder X Prize should start in early 2012. The actual start of the project was January 10th, 2012 and it should run for three and a half years.


Defensive weapons


In the Star Trek universe, many ships are equipped with energy shields that protect against weapon fire, electromagnetic radiation , beaming or cosmic radiation. All ships in Starfleet have shields like this. When overloaded, they usually fail, so that the ship is defenseless. A critical component of the shield system is the frequency: through a clever modulation and adaptation to the frequency of enemy weapon systems one can achieve an almost one hundred percent derivation. If, on the other hand, the enemy weapon frequencies are set precisely to the shield modulation, the enemy weapons penetrate them effortlessly and damage the hull directly.


Some spaceships, especially those of the Romulans and Klingons , have a cloaking device . This creates a field that makes the spaceships optically and invisible to the sensors by directing light and other rays around the spaceship. With a few exceptions, ships of either species are unable to fire weapons while the camouflage is active.

In an episode of the series Starship Enterprise - The Next Century , a so-called inter-phase cloaking device was introduced. This was able to let an object penetrate matter during its active inter-phase camouflage . When the technology was deactivated, there was a risk that the previously camouflaged object would "merge" with another object located at the point of exposure. The crew of the prototype spaceship died as a result of the “merging” with an asteroid .


The Phaser (Phased Energy Rectification) is the Star Trek variant of the radiation weapons common in the science fiction genre, the name is based on the real laser . Within the series and films, the “beam” of the phaser is sometimes referred to by the protagonists as an energy beam and sometimes as a particle beam. In addition, it is often said that the beam travels at the speed of light , which contradicts the visual effects used. In the productions, these beam weapons are shown both as hand weapons and as armament of the spaceships, which are also visualized in a similar way.

are another variant of the beam weapons shown in Star Trek productions. In contrast to the phasers, they are associated with different visual effects, in which instead of a continuous beam, balls of light are shown and in some cases the people hit disappear completely.
Pulse phaser
are another variant that emit a wave-shaped beam through a pulse-like discharge of the stored energy, which in particular has a higher effect against borrowing technology. The USS Defiant from DS9 has four of these weapons at its disposal.


Fusion torpedo

In the series Star Trek: Enterprise , which takes place chronologically before the other series, people use torpedoes based on nuclear fusion . Only in the course of the series are the antimatter-based photon torpedoes used.

Photonic or photon torpedo

Photon torpedoes, called “photonic torpedoes” in Star Trek Enterprise , and “antimatter torpedoes” are projectiles filled with matter (here deuterium ) and antimatter (antideuterium). The effect is based on the annihilation of matter and antimatter . The antideuterium is stored in a magnetic bottle . Shortly before the detonation, both components are placed in a special chamber, but still kept magnetically separated from each other. The detonation is finally caused by switching off the magnetic field. When matter and antimatter merge, photons are created, which explains the term photon torpedo. According to Einstein's formula E = m · c², a payload of one kilogram (0.5 kg deuterium + 0.5 kg antideuterium) results in an energy yield of 1 kg · (300,000,000 m / s) ² = 90,000,000,000. 000,000 joules (equivalent to 21.5  MT ). Photon torpedoes have up to 1.5 kg of antideuterium + 1.5 kg of deuterium, which corresponds to a maximum explosive force of approx. 64.5 MT. For comparison: real 2-stage hydrogen bombs achieve explosive forces of up to 15 MT, the largest ( Tsar bomb , 2-stage) had an explosive power of 57 MT. The destructive power of photon torpedoes in Star Trek is shown much less for reasons of film technology. For example, people have survived several times in the immediate vicinity of impacting photon torpedoes on planetary surfaces. It should also be noted that in the absence of an atmosphere, no pressure wave can arise in space, which is largely responsible for the destruction of explosions on earth. Most of a nuclear explosion is transmitted in space via the electromagnetic radiation that is generated and causes burns instead of mechanical damage.

Empty torpedo hulls are also used in Star Trek for burial in space, similar objects in individual extreme cases also for transporting people. Space burial has already been carried out on a much smaller scale based on this model.

Quantum torpedo

Instead of a matter-antimatter reaction as with photon torpedoes, quantum torpedoes use a complex quantum physical technique to release as much energy as possible against opposing objects. The Deep Space Nine series technical manual describes how an ordinary antimatter explosion is used to create a form of exotic matter (the author of the book writes about eleven-dimensional membranes ) that releases a greater amount of energy when it disintegrates than its own Generation would have to be used. The additional energy comes from the fictitious subspace, which also plays an important role in the warp drive . Quantum torpedoes belong to weapons based on vacuum energy . According to the manual, their explosive power is about twice that of a photon torpedo of the same size.

Other weapons

In addition, there are a number of other torpedoes and missiles that were only introduced for individual episodes. Four well-known examples are:

  • Trans-phase torpedoes once by the USS Voyager in the following final uses. They were brought from the future by Admiral Janeway in order to be able to defend themselves successfully against the Borg . According to their name, these torpedoes use a phase shift of matter and energy, causing them to detonate their explosive cargo inside enemy spaceships.
  • Chronoton torpedoes, which also only appear in the Star Trek Voyager series , are used there by a species called Krenim . Because the torpedo is surrounded by a shell that removes it from the normal flow of time, it can penetrate the protective shields of spaceships. It works similarly to a transphase torpedo in that it bypasses enemy shields rather than destroying them.
  • Polaron weapons (beams and pulses) in the series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine emerge, during the illustrated there Dominion War, used by the enemies of the Federation. Initially, like the Chroniton torpedoes, they penetrate the protective shields of Starfleet, but can later be neutralized.
  • Energy dampening weapons / dissipators are also weapons used in Star Trek Deep Space Nine in the Dominion War depicted. Developed by a species called Breen , they disable the electrical systems on board a struck spaceship. They will also be neutralized by Starfleet at the end of the war.

In addition, there are also greatly reduced (13 cm long) forms of various torpedoes that are used on shuttles and other small ships.

Time machines / time travel

The possibility of time travel is dealt with several times in Star Trek . These seem possible even without special time travel technology, insofar as a ship "only" has to penetrate the gravitational field of a sun at the speed of light in order to be hurled backwards through time (Star Trek IV.). Several civilizations such as B. the Borg, the Q or the Krenim master different time travel techniques. The technical background for time processes that can be influenced by machine are mostly the fictional Chroniton particles, as in the Chroniton torpedoes (see weapons technology) or in the time arms ship of the Krenim.

The possibility of time travel is discussed in real physics, but largely regarded as not possible.

See also


  • Lawrence M. Krauss The Physics of Star Trek . Heyne, 1996, ISBN 3-453-10981-3 .
  • Michael Okuda, Rick Sternbach: Star Trek: The Next Generation: Technical Manual. Pocket Books, 1991, ISBN 0-671-70427-3 .
  • Nina Rogotzki et al. (Ed.): Fascinating! STAR TREK and the sciences . Verlag Ludwig, Kiel 2003, ISBN 3-933598-25-7 (Volume 1), ISBN 3-933598-69-9 (Volume 2)
  • Jens Schröter: The Holodeck: Phantasm of the ultimate display. In: Rogotzki 2003, Volume 1, pp. 105-130.
  • Stefan Thiesen: Trek Science - into the future at warp speed? MindQuest, Selm 2001, ISBN 3-934195-06-7 . As an e-book
  • Sebastian Stoppe: Getting Immersed in Star Trek, Storytelling Between "True" and "False" on the Holodeck . In: SFRA Review . No. 316 , 2016, p. 4-15 ( [PDF]).
  • Mark E. Lasbury: The realization of Star Trek technologies. Springer, Cham 2017, ISBN 978-3-319-40914-6 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ In this way, the ZDF tried to introduce uniform terms, so the " phaser " and " beaming " later appeared in the German version of Moon Base Alpha 1 . Since Spaceship Enterprise - The Next Century ( TNG ), the term "Warp" has also been used consistently in German dubbing.
  2. Star Trek Maps , Star Trek Technical Manual
  3. The Technology of the USS Enterprise , Star Trek Encyclopedia
  4. Schröter 2003, p. 113.
  5. Lawrence M. Krauss: The Physics of Star Trek . Heyne 1996.
  6. August 7, 2009 12:14 pm
  7. Short film clip
  8. As of version 4812, the term “computer” can now also be used as an activation word for “Alexa” ( Amazon Echo ) . ( New activation word : Amazon Echo now also listens to “Computer” , on January 17, 2017) and the system also knows an “integrated self-destruction”. ( "Computer, activate self-destruction": Amazon's cloud assistant Echo in the test. on March 16, 2017)
  9. TIME magazine : "Reconfigure the Modulators!" (Nov. 28, 1994) (English)
  10. ^ Inventor competition X-Prize: Ten million dollars for the "Star Trek" tricorder , Spiegel online , May 14, 2011
  11. X Prize Foundation Offers $ 10 Million For a Tricorder to Diagnose Patients , Popular Science , May 11, 2011
  12. ^ Life Sciences Prize Group: Tricorder X PRIZE (English), X-Prize Foundation ; As of May 17, 2011
  13. Mobile diagnostic device: X Prize Foundation wants to realize Star Trek Tricorder , , on May 12, 2011
  14. Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual (German: The technology of the USS Enterprise)
  15. See list of nuclear weapons tests
  16. Michael Okuda, Denise Okuda, Debbie Mirek: The Star Trek Encyclopedia . Simon and Schuster, 2011, ISBN 0-671-53609-5 . ( limited preview in Google Book search)