Is it just me, or have you ever watched your favorite retro sci-fi shows and wondered what life would be like if our lives contained the type of technology they’re experiencing every day? This only truly happens to me when I watch Babylon 5. If you’ve ever watched it, you’ll probably know exactly what I’m talking about!
Babylon 5, the oh-so-controversial space station of the 23rd century, was not only the technological innovation of its time (when the show ran in the 90s), but this applies even in our time today. Chock full of data storage crystals, PPGs, space shuttles to Io, Centauri Prime, Narn, Minbar and other appealing locations along with molecule-binding links to allow crew members to communicate privately with each other, Babylon 5 is second to none when it comes to technology.
What’s interesting to note is that while some of this technology is not in existence at this time, it could be useful in today’s society. For instance, those handy links could be vital to our own survival. Instead of the incessant texting taking over the world today (and causing hazardous driving conditions), I think it would be beneficial to have a link that binds to the top of our hands so we can talk AND keep our eyes on the road. I’m for it! Why don’t we have this technology already?
In addition, routine space travel to different planets would be exceptionally awesome; wouldn’t you agree? While I doubt beyond the stars we’ll ever find a planet that’s comparable to Narn, Minbar or the others, sometimes I cannot help but wonder what it would be like to jump on a shuttle and visit strange and distant planets. Have a criminal record and need a fresh start? Perhaps the Narns will accept you! Want a place to go where you’ll encounter peace, tranquility and endless hours of meditation? Jump on the next shuttle to Minbar! The possibilities are endless.
As for PPGs, if you’re not familiar with the series you might be relieved to know it’s not a type of illegal drug (unless you wanted it to be an illegal drug? Nevermind). These little devices are actually Phased Plasma Guns. They fire a shot of super-heated helium contained in a type of electromagnetic bubble or shield. An opposed magnetic field aids in its propulsion. When the plasma bolt hits, both its kinetic and thermal energies are dispelled. PPGs are the norm on B5 as all the security staff and the officers are armed or at least have access to them.
What I find extremely fascinating about PPGs is the way they work. When one is fired, they cause a wound yet the thermal heat automatically cauterizes the area. So basically, you can down a suspect and not have to worry about him bleeding to death. Not bad. I think our police officers deserve to have this weapon in their arsenal.
And that leaves us with our next technological innovation – data crystals. It is believed that data crystals were originally crafted by the Minbari, but regardless of whoever designed them data crystals are both convenient and necessary. Think about it. You want to save some very important data. Instead of putting it on a USB drive, you can save it to a data crystal. This crystal would have a much higher recording capacity than a USB drive (which would obviously seem archaic to those who live on B5). And don’t forget you get aesthetics with a data crystal. USB drives are so boxy and old looking. Sparkly and modern, data crystals should be the new up-and-coming technology because they’re both fun AND functional.
But what else have we learned about life on B5? The truth is that, aside from the technology, life here in our time isn’t as different from theirs as we believe it to be. Remember the globalization that was so blatantly obvious in B5 (aka “Earth Gov”)? The United States wasn’t identified at all in terms of government; it was all “Earth this” and “Earth that.” If you’ve been watching the news recently you’ll see that we are headed down the same road. Our own leaders have identified us as being “citizens of the world” and we are looking at critical issues from a more global point of view than ever before.
What do you do when the unfavorable aspects of the show seem to be coming true? For instance The Night Watch seems far-fetched but in reality it is very similar to a national government agency existing today. The Night Watch tells you to watch your neighbors, listen to what they say and be sure to report to them so Earth Gov can keep dissention down to a minimum. Does this ring a bell? I don’t know about you, but it definitely sounds like our own Homeland Security.
When it comes to Babylon 5, there are great differences but also great similarities. In the future I’ll talk about the space ships and the technology they utilized. Not familiar with the show? You can catch all the seasons in their entirety on Netflix. Don’t miss it!