I'm Working on That
In a nutshell, I'm Working on That (IWOT) is a book that explores how the 23rd century technologies that Star Trek envisioned 40 years ago are becoming realities today, in the 21st century. It looks at warp drive, time travel, artificial intelligence, robotics, virtual reality and the quest for eternal youth. "It was a kind of road trip," says Chip. "We lined up the top thinkers in fields from genetics to robotics and then went off to talk with them. There wasn't a dud in the bunch and we had a ball. I was surprised to learn how much Star Trek had influenced so many of these scientists when they were kids, and how it actually caused many of them to pursue careers in science. They ended up inventing what they thought was so cool when they first watched that show."
The book's title comes from a comment the great physicist Stephen Hawking made when he was touring the Star Trek set and passed by the Enterprise's pseudo warp drive engines. He asked what they were, and when he was told, he said, "Oh yeah. I'm working on that."
The jacket copy for the book described our adventures this way, "As in his missions aboard the fictional Starship Enterprise, William Shatner, the actor who is Captain James T. Kirk, and his co-author, Chip Walter, take us on an adventure to discover the people who are working on the future we will all someday share. From traveling through space at warp speed to beaming across the continent, not scientists from Caltech to MIT explore the realms of what was once considered improbable and reveal how it might just be possible."
What Chip says he loved two things most about this book: Working with William Shatner. "Despite stories I had heard to the contrary, Bill was terrific to work with and one of the nicest people I've ever met. Smart too. We had a ball." And the room the premise of the book gave him to explore science in fun and engaging ways. "The gloves were off with this book. I could be fun and funny and irreverent, if I wanted to be, and not worry about what was 'acceptable.' IWOT is filled with tons of serious science, but it's not self-conscious or condescending. And its 'road trip' mentality, and Bill's personality, let me give it a light touch that most science books simply can't pull off."
You can learn more about the book, read reviews and buy it here at Amazon.com. You also can read an account of Chip's misadventures with Bill Shatner when they visited Carnegie Mellon University here.
A documentary based on the book was produced and aired around the world earlier in 2006 (on The History Channel in the U.S.). Entitled How William Shatner Changed the World, it has been nominated for two Emmys. View a clip online. DVDs aren't available yet, but they will be. Check back to find out when.
A few things you'll learn when you read I'm Working On That.
- How to build a time machine. (It's not cheap.)
- Why teleportation won't be coming any time soon (but there may be a solution.)
- When, exactly, we can expect Data (or an android very much like him) to arrive.
- What it takes to create a real Holodeck.
- How to put yourself in suspended animation. (Page 331)
- The true meaning of warp drive. Build a machine that actually folds, spindles and mutilates the fabric of space and time.
- A look at the next generation of computers - you'll wear them, but you won't look like the Borg.
- The exact date when the nanotechnology revolution will begin. July 17, 2013.at 8:17 am. (Page 295)