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How MLK Convinced Nichelle Nichols to Stick With Star Trek

An iconic actress and a long-running sci-fi series share a history of progressive firsts

Image of Nichelle Nichols from the January, 1967 edition of Ebony magazine. Photo by Desilu Productions

Star Trek, Gene Rodenberry’s classic, long-running sci-fi series, has long been noted for its progressive values and humanist philosophy. In the world of Star Trek, which debuted in 1966, man’s future was unburdened with petty issues of race and gender. Rodenberry took pains to assemble a diverse cast, and though the studio vetoed the “crazy” idea, he originally wrote the role of the U.S.S. Enterprise’s first officer (which eventually became Leonard Nimoy’s Spock) for a woman. But while the show certainly contended with the bigotries and sensibilities of its day, it still managed to push through a number of historic firsts, many of which came from the pioneering work of Nichelle Nichols, the Enterprise’s own Lieutenant Uhura.

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William Shatner to Drive Futuristic Supercycle Across America

Once you’ve beaten the Kobayashi Maru, designing a motorcycle is really no big deal.

Image courtesy of Rivet Motors

In news so awesome, I’m tempted to believe it’s some kind of hoax, William Shatner, popular spoken word artist and America’s favorite drunken grandpa, has started a futuristic motorcycle company, and will be piloting a prototype of its first design across the United States.

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Scientists Discover an Invisible Shield Protecting Earth

Just like in Star Trek—only this giant force field protecting Earthlings from “killer electrons”

Scientists led by a team at the University of Colorado in Boulder have discovered an invisible shield some 7,200 miles above Earth, which they say protects the planet from “killer electrons”—ominous-sounding particles that whip around space close to the speed of light, fry satellite equipment and even harm astronauts outside space stations.

The shield was discovered in the Van Allen radiation belts, a couple of doughnut-shaped rings held in place above Earth by its magnetic field. First discovered in 1958 by Professor James Van Allen at the University of Iowa, the belts are filled with electrons and protons that respond to incoming “energy disturbances” from the sun. Last year, Daniel Baker, director of CU-Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, discovered a third ring nestled between the two belts.

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