How Star Trek Incorporates Real-Life Science

Astrophysicist Dr. Erin Macdonald talks about consulting on the famous series and the real (and fictional) science on screen.

an astrophysicist with really cool tattoos on her arm and with her hair tied in a ponytail smiles and talks into a mic with her hand propped out in gesture. behind her is a screen display of a futuristic space ship, from the star trek series, flying towards a planet
Dr. Erin Macdonald, the official science advisor to the Star Trek series. Credit: Erin Macdonald

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Few pop culture properties have lasted quite as long as Star Trek. A dozen Star Trek television shows have aired over the last sixty years—not to mention countless movies, novels, and comic books. 

Science concepts have always been integral to the Star Trek franchise: from warp speed travel to dilithium. But how much does the series accurately depict?

Science Friday host Ira Flatow speaks with astrophysicist Dr. Erin Macdonald, science consultant for Star Trek about the legacy of the franchise, and how accurate the science is within the series. And Universe of Art host D. Peterschmidt chats with Science Friday producer Kathleen Davis about producing the segment and the role expert consultants play in TV and movies.

Universe of Art is hosted and produced by D. Peterschmidt, who also wrote the music. Our show art was illustrated by Abelle Hayford. The original segment featured in this episode was produced by Science Friday producer Kathleen Davis. Support for Science Friday’s science and arts coverage comes from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. 

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Meet the Writer

About D. Peterschmidt

D. Peterschmidt is a producer, host of the podcast Universe of Art, and composes music for Science Friday’s podcasts. Their D&D character is a clumsy bard named Chip Chap Chopman.

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