Nobody ever planned on a short-lived TV series having such a lasting impact on society, but it has. And this is true whether you like Star Trek or not. It doesn't matter that the show's medical devices looked like scavenged pieces of plastic the Desilu studio prop department glued together on a low budget. Star Trek is part of our collective mythology. And in the endless loop of life imitating art, many of the futuristic technologies introduced on the show are now a reality. That's why we decided to compare some of today's medical breakthroughs with those envisioned by science fiction TV writers, producers and actors more than 40 years ago.
So, for our list of four ways real life medicine is catching up with Star Trek, here are the ground rules for all the hardcore Trekkers out there. We are sticking to The Original Series, where the gadgets, the technology, the basic assumptions of how the future might look are in their most primordial state. Each medical device or medicine was more of an idea, a basic concept of what things should do rather than anything that got too bogged down in actual science. As the later spinoffs got rolling, real science often got in the way of simply telling the story. Ultimately, the in-depth scientific explanations of the later series will likely turn out to be wrong, while The Original Series will forever retain a colored-plastic purity.
But enough of all that. Here's our Top 4 list.
1. Hypospray - The hypospray was a needle-free device that could subcutaneously inject drugs via forced air.
2. Medical Tricorder - There are many types of tricorders, but the one used by medical personnel can diagnose diseases and collect other vital information about a patient. And it can do all this noninvasively, from a distance from the patient.
3. Sickbay Vital Signs Monitor - There is a screen hanging above each bed in sickbay displaying various vital signs, and McCoy will not let you leave sickbay until those needles fall within acceptable parameters.
4. Venus drug - The illegal Venus Drug makes plain-looking women beautiful.