About the Manual

The Nerd Manual is meant to be both a useful resource for nerds and a guide for the people involved with nerds. If you're a nerd you can find information here that will help you improve your life and perhaps better understand yourself. If you're close friends with, dating, or married to a nerd, I want to give you insight into things nerds do that a lot of people have difficulty understanding.


I hope to avoid offending anyone--either nerd or non-nerd--but please understand that the manual will get into some sensitive topics, stray into contentious territories, and even use stereotypes to illustrate points. It's OK to disagree with something, but keep your comments civil.

2015-11-10

Why do Nerds Like Star Trek?

hobvias sudoneighm - Chief Engineer
One warning before I go any further: there are a lot of nerds who don't like Star Trek (and they probably enjoy Star Wars), which is fine, but never assume that all nerds are Star Trek fans.

It may seem self evident why nerds like Star Trek: there's faster-than-light travel, transporters that instantly teleport people from starship to planet, phasers, photon torpedoes, Vulcans, Klingons, Romulans and a host of other aliens working with or against humanity as we strike out across the galaxy.

Sure, all those things are certainly nerd candy, but there's more to the deep passion nerds hold for Star Trek than the sci-fi trappings of a low budget space western.


Trek offers us a vision of the future, not just one where technology enabled us to reach the stars and meet extraterrestrial beings, but a future where humanity had managed to overcome the problems of pollution, racism, classism, starvation, and politics to build a united federation, not just of Earth,  but of planets.

That's Star Trek's general appeal. Of course, if you talk with leaders in any tech field, you're likely to find that they are Trek fans, not just because Trek appeals to nerds, but because it was a show that appealed to the young/teen nerds who are now adults making waves in science and technology because they saw this awesome TV show with communicators, tricorders, universal translators, voice activated computers, holodecks, and of course spaceships that could travel the galaxy--and those nerds said, “I want to make that happen.”

Imagine for a second a man who trips over his phone cord (yes, phones used to have cords) at the same moment he notices Captain Kirk talking to Enterprise on his communicator--with no wires, from a planet's surface to a ship in orbit--just as casually as if he were talking to someone standing next to him.

Now imagine this man happens to be a nerd who's in a position to say, “I'm going to make that real.”

You don't have to imagine it. This is a true story. Dr. Martin Cooper, General Manager of Systems at Motorola, made it his goal to develop a wireless communication device that worked the way they do on Star Trek. It took a while, but the Motorla Dyna-Tac was the fruit born of that idea, and it led to every Apple and Android device in people's pockets today. 

Star Trek casts an extremely long shadow. It first aired in 1966, and for people growing up in the 60s--the decade of the space race--the idea of humanity exploring the cosmos was part of popular culture, and Star Trek reinforced this idea with a mission to explore the stars and seek out new life. Even though the space race ran its course, Star Trek kept on trekking in syndication through the next couple of decades, then it got a Next Generation, then a space station, and it kept right on trekking, all the while encouraging us to believe--not just in cellular phones, talking computers and virtual reality, but most importantly in humanity's role beyond the planet where we were born.

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