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Houston Matters

50 Years Later: How Star Trek Has Influenced Space City

Houston Matters discusses the legacy and impact of Star Trek on Greater Houston with Matt Abbott, flight director at Johnson Space Center, and Dr. Dorit Donoviel, deputy chief scientist with the National Space Biomedical Research Institute.


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Researchers at the University of Bristol have tested what may be the world's most powerful acoustic tractor beam. Yes, a tractor beam — like Star Trek.

Asier Marzo, lead author of a paper published today in the journal Physical Review Letters, says this breakthrough "opens the door to many new applications."

At the moment, the engineers have found a way to trap small objects using the beam – they've even posted a You Tube video to show how it works. In the video, they use a sort of vortex of ultrasonic waves to trap a piece of round Styrofoam maybe the size of a marble and hold it in place above the device.

It's but one example of how real world ideas can be inspired by science fiction – and Star Trek, specifically.

On the 50th anniversary of the premiere of the original Star Trek TV series (Sept. 8, 2016), we explored the impact the landmark show has had on Space City. We listen back to some highlights from those conversations with Matt Abbott, Flight Director at Johnson Space Center, and Dr. Dorit Donoviel, Deputy Chief Scientist with the National Space Biomedical Research Institute and Director of the Biomedical Innovation Lab at the Baylor College of Medicine Center for Space Medicine.