The universe that Gene Roddenberry envisioned for the 24th Century is one filled with some pretty stunning gadgets: replicators that can create food from nothing; transporters that can take people from orbiting ships to planet surfaces in the wink of an eye; guns that can vaporize solid rock or knock out enemy agents; and sensors that peer light-years ahead to measure fluctuations that are invisible to the naked eye.
To a cynic, most of these technologies can be passed off as a producer’s attempt to speed up the story-telling process, to reduce production costs or to sidestep physical impossibilities. It’s often said, for instance, that the transporter was created because Roddenberry’s special effects budget was too small to pay for weekly images of the Enterprise landing on exotic new planets.
But amazingly, some of the technology seen on the Enterprise is entirely possible as far as physics is concerned. And, amazingly, some of these tools already exist today.