Goddard Engineering and Technology Directorate (ETD) Calendar


The ETD Events Calendar list upcoming engineering seminars, colloquiums, conferences, town halls and other events of interest to the ETD engineering community. Explore a world of knowledge and innovation though a curated lineup of insightful and engaging events. This information supports a journey of discovery, where experts and enthusiasts converge to share ideas, explore cutting-edge technologies and foster a community of collaboration and learning.



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From Warp Drives to Tachyons: Physics in Star Trek

August 1, 2023 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm


ABSTRACT Star Trek has been a staple in our culture and society for more than 50 years, not just because of its ability to tell stories of exploring the stars, but to inspire generations to literally explore the stars. Some of what seemed like science fiction back in the 60s has now become commonplace in our everyday life. How much did Star Trek play a part in the invention of video conferencing or mobile phones? It is certainly notable for inspiring many of us to become scientists and engineers. It also works the other way – using Star Trek as a cultural reference point, we can teach a lot of complex scientific concepts. Even though it is fiction, there are many concepts rooted in scientific fact. In this talk, we will go through the most well-recognized technologies in Star Trek and show how physics can be taught through this cultural pantheon.

Photo of Dr. Erin Macdonald.
Dr. Erin Macdonald.

SPEAKER Erin Macdonald (PhD Astrophysics, Star Trek Science Advisor) hails from Fort Collins, CO and did her undergraduate degrees at the University of Colorado at Boulder where she dual-majored in Physics with Astrophysics (cum laude) and Mathematics. She earned her Ph.D. at 25 years old from the University of Glasgow in Gravitational Astrophysics. Her post-doctoral research with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) Scientific Collaboration on gravitational waves from dead and colliding stars and black holes contributed to the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics (though she left the collaboration before their discovery). She has taught at the college level, worked with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and written and narrated numerous popular science podcasts including an Audible Original series produced by The Great Courses on “The Science of Sci-Fi” which reached the March 2020 Audible Non-Fiction Top 10 bestseller list and in October 2022 she published “Star Trek: My First Book of Space”, a baby board book. Since 2019, “Dr Erin” has been the science advisor for the entire Star Trek franchise. She is an internationally sought-after public speaker, educator, STEAM advocate, writer, and technical consultant who explains complex physics and astronomy ideas to varied audiences. She is also the founder and owner of Spacetime Productions, a film company dedicated to lifting and sharing marginalized talent and stories.

Hybrid: In-Person and Online


August 1, 2023
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Event Category: