This summer has done a lot to re-spark my passion for "Star Trek." First, there was the movie, which I still think about from time to time, allowing myself to go slack-jawed and wondrous at just how damn good it was. And then there was my visit to the Detroit Science Center for "Star Trek: The Exhibition" which had me walking through its corridors feeling like a kid again, remembering just how much I've always loved the Star Trek universe.
The exhibition offers a healthy dose of props and costumes from all of the "Star Trek" series, from the original through "Enterprise" as well as 11 of the movies. Although many of the props are recreations, it's fascinating to get an up-close look at just how intricate the detail was on things like the original communicators which even includes small, movable frequency dials. It's also a thrill to see the costumes -- and I totally mean this next part as a compliment -- to see how simply made they were. Everything just looks sort of cobbled together and ordinary which to me signals just how well the stories and characters worked to pull us into these stories and never, ever notice the simplicity of what was around them. Also, good lighting probably helped.
Another cool part of the exhibition are all of the set recreations. I will readily admit that my "Next Generation" fan girl heart leaped when I saw Captain Picard's quarters, fully furnished with all sorts of Trekkie knickknacks including his flute from "The Inner Light" episode. There are also recreations of the "ST:TNG" transporter room and the Guardian of Forever from the "ST:TOS" episode, "The City on the Edge of Forever." And perhaps second coolest of all (I'm sorry, Picard's quarters rank first for me) is a recreation of the bridge from the original series.
One of the cool things about being able to walk through this reproduction is seeing, again, how much detail went into all the faux computer monitors and read-out displays. There are sensors representing pretty much every aspect of warp speed and all the other technologies created on the show, and again, I'll admit to giggling like a school girl when I saw displays talking about dilithium and all that other good stuff that actually started to make sense to me the longer I watched the show. I seriously think I could have aced fake "Star Trek" science in college.
Speaking of science, this exhibition is great because it slips a lot of real world science into the mix, talking about early space flight, about how warp drive probably couldn't ever happen, about how no one would ever have time to duck out of the way of phaser fire because phaser technology was predicated on faster-than-light thingamabobbers. (I actually failed real world science.) It's a wonderful way to connect the excitement of the "Star Trek" universe to the real possibilities inherent in the world around us. Just think, would we have cell phones these days if there weren't legions of smart people watching "Star Trek" and dreaming of flip-top hand-held communicators as kids?
Oh, and the models -- I almost forgot to mention the models. The exhibition includes a slew of replicas and models of "Star Trek" ships including many that were used in actual filming. To see a Borg cube up close and to be able to examine different versions of the Enterprise was fascinating. These model builders make anyone's Saturday afternoon dalliances with pre-packaged airplanes and dizzying amount of glue seem shameful. These are truly impressive works.
So if you're in the Detroit area any time between now and September 7, be sure to stop by the Detroit Science Center and check out this show"Star Trek: The Exhibition" for yourself. It's a fabulous trip down memory lane but at the same time, it stirs that optimism about better days ahead...both for "Star Trek" and the world. Also, while you're at the Detroit Science Center, you can catch the "Star Trek" movie on IMAX. Life doesn't get much better than that.