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Santa Clara University Professor Launches Star Trek Class at Warp Speed

Space…the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds. And now that’s Santa Clara University’s mission thanks to a new class called the Physics of Star Trek.

“We’ll watch TV and movie clips, and there certainly will be cool photos projected onto a screen from time to time. However, there will also be plenty of physics and other science, too. Afterall, this is a Science, Technology, and Society course,” says Phil Kesten, physics professor.

As a part of the university’s new core curriculum, this course examines various subjects across a number of disciplines. In The Physics of Star Trek, students will examine the complex relationship between science, technology, and society. Kesten notes in his syllabus, “science, technology, and society are not three separate islands; social changes lead to scientific and technological changes and vice versa.”

Other elements of the course involve studying:
•Real and imaginary physics and physiology;
•Science of space travel, time travel, and transporters;
•Standard Model of particle physics, as well as the physics of inertial dampers, transporter beams, and warp drive;
•Impact on society of interplanetary and inter-solar travel;
•Political ramifications of mankind’s race to space; and
•Implication of the possible discovery of extraterrestrial life on religion and faith.

Kesten says knowledge of the six television series and 11 movies isn’t a prerequisite. Instead, students will be graded on how well they do in their weekly reflection essays, a mid-term exam, a project that involves a presentation, and of course, class participation.

The Physics of Star Trek will beam onto Santa Clara’s campus on September 20.

For media interviews with Kesten and his students or to schedule a shoot in class, contact:
Connie Kim Coutain | | 408-554-5126 office | 408-829-4836 cell

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