The original Star Trek and its numerous successors were far ahead of their time, but just how far? Will science eventually catch up to this series’ nearly five-decade-old creations? With Lawrence Krauss, Eric Horvitz, Seth Shostak and moderator Faith Salie, explore the plausibility of scientific phenomena from the Star Trek universe, including warp speed, time travel, humanoid aliens and whether anyone in our universe will be “beamed up” by transporter anytime soon.
Faith Salie is an Emmy-winning contributor to CBS News Sunday Morning and a panelist on NPR’s Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me! Her first book, Approval Junkie, was just published by Crown and chronicles her meaningful/embarrassing lifelong quest for validation. She is a host of the PBS and CUNY.org show, Science Goes to the Movies. Salie is a Rhodes scholar whose classmates went on to become governors and Pulitzer Prize winners, while she landed on a Star Trek collectible trading card worth hundreds of cents.
Researching the theoretical and practical impact of computational systems that perceive, learn, reason, and reflect, Eric Horvitz has pursued principles and methods that enable computing systems to reason about their own cognition and to make decisions amidst the complexities and uncertainties of an “open world.” Practical applications include designs for more natural interaction with computers, methods for automating medical diagnoses, predicting traffic flows, and improving search and information retrieval, and endowing computers with the ability to make decisions in time-critical situations. Horvitz forecasts that, in 50 years, our lives will be greatly enhanced by the fruits of a “computational revolution” and that people will consider many computing applications in their midst as “intelligent.” He also predicts that machine intelligence will serve a critical role in the delivery of healthcare and education, and that robotic scientists will make breakthroughs in the realms of energy, environment, and core sciences like neurobiology. Horvitz is the Immediate Past President of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) and a Technical Fellow at Microsoft Research. He received his Ph.D. and M.D. from Stanford University.
Lawrence Krauss is an internationally known theoretical physicist and best-selling author. His research focuses on the intersection of cosmology and elementary particle physics. Krauss’s work addresses questions about the origin of matter in the universe, Einstein’s theory of general relativity, astrophysics, the future of the universe, and the properties and description of the dark energy that is thought to account for most of the universe’s present energy content. A fervent advocate for science literacy, Lawrence Krauss has written nine books for a general audience, including the bestseller The Physics of Star Trek, and most recently A Universe from Nothing. He was recently awarded the National Science Board’s Public Service Award for his contributions to public understanding of science. Krauss is foundation professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and director of the ASU Origins Project at Arizona State University.
Seth Shostak is an astronomer, lecturer and the author and editor of several books, including the 2009 Confessions of an Alien Hunter: A Scientist’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence(National Geographic.) For much of his career, he conducted radio astronomy research on galaxies. Dr. Shostak, the Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute, in Mountain View, California, hosts the SETI Institute’s weekly science radio show, Are We Alone? Widely published on topics from astronomy and technology to film and television, he lectures on astronomy and other subjects at Stanford University and elsewhere in the Bay Area, and is a Distinguished Speaker for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He is also the chair of the International Academy of Astronautics’ SETI Permanent Study Group.
The science advisor for the recent remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still, Dr. Shostak had a small role as Communications Officer in the Star Trek web production Of Gods and Men. He also has a letter from Gene Rodenberry rejecting his offer (for the price of bus fare to Burbank) to fix science errors in the scripts of the original Star Trek series.