In Brief
Part of what makes science fiction so great is the science behind it. Star Trek exhibits many futuristic technologies, some of which are plausible in today's world and some that we can still only dream of.

What makes truly great science fiction? Of course, a good storyline is an absolute must. But beyond that, what draws so many people to this genre — what leads to the creation of subcultures and communities that are based entirely on these fanciful worlds? In short, what dives people’s passion for science fiction?

At first glance, this seems like a rather subjective question. Some might argue that a diverse array of alien species, or even planets, is what makes science fiction so compelling — exploring different worlds and cultures. Others might be interested in the unique tech and imagining a world where, thanks to advanced computer systems, nearly anything is possible. And still others may look to the way that society has progressed (or regressed, as the case may be); they want to see where we may be headed.

The key to all of this, I argue, is the science — the plausibility of these various worlds, aliens, and technologies.

We don’t turn to science fiction just to look at what really could be; we also turn to it to look at what may already be out there somewhere. Thus, as the name implies, the scientific validity of an idea is what makes some science fiction so compelling. The issue is, of course, more complex than this. But at the most fundamental level, the greatest artists of science fiction have the impressive ability to dream about the world that we could live in and make us believe that this world really might exist (if not now, than one day).

Indeed, although creators of science fiction may not have proved to be terribly accurate about the timing of the various technological developments that they mention in their work, because they did their due diligence when creating their world, many of their ideas have been the cornerstones of real scientific hypotheses (or at least the starting point for these various ideas). So let’s take a look at one of the greatest science fiction universes out there: Star Trek. How has it lived up to our expectations, and just how realistic is this sci-fi world?

The Science of Star Trek
Image Credit: Best Computer Science Degrees, via Visual.ly

(See a larger image here)

Want more information? For the science behind Star trek wormholes, see this article. For more information on the reality of warp drive, see this article. For information on real world holograms, see this article.