I have always been a fan of science fiction books, movies, whatever... The space travel and gadgets always tweaked the imagination, sometimes directing interests and schooling. I have, in my library of stuff filed away, plans to build a Star Trek communicator. The schematics are real electronic parts even if the specifications and capabilities are considerably exaggerated.
The shows boast medical and geological scanners, lasers, advanced computers and much more. When I was a teenager, we actually had a laser in our electronics class the size of a toaster. I now have a laser I can carry in my pocket the size of a chapstick container. Computers have advanced to near Trekkian quality in size, speed and capabilities.
One of my favorites were the report pads and books carried by the crew of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager. I have carried in my pocket for a number of years now an electronic device capable of carrying many books and doing much more and current PDAs are more powerful than that with cellular systems integrated in as well.
I read a report on Yahoo today. NASA is ready to put a device into production that is a replicator. It melts metal and reassembles it layer by layer into useful items. Here is a link to the article: http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/20091105/sc_space/devicelikestartrekreplicatormightflyonspacestation
Once again science is showing that what the mind can conceive can become a reality. We are definitely on the right track.
I get a little excited just thinking what's next,