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It's life Jim, but not as we've known it

From science fiction to fact, the Science Museum fetes nearly three decades of Star Trek.

After 29 years of seeking out new life and new civilisations, the Starship USS Enterprise has been temporarily transported to the Science Museum in London.

Captain's Log, star date October, 1995, reports the opening of the museum's Star Trek exhibition, which highlights sets and props from four television series and seven films.

"Star Trek The Exhibition" promises to boldly go, picking up passengers from all corners of the galaxy, and giving them the chance to journey into the unknown through video and graphics, which feature Captains Kirk and Picard, Commander Sisko and other members of the Star Trek crews.

Visitors can savour a range of authentic Star Trek memorabilia, such as Jean-Luc Picard's captain's chair, a specially-commissioned model of the Enterprise, a full-size replica of a Next Generation transporter room; they can even sit on a Klingon throne. But this is not just a collection of props and costumes for dedicated Trekkies the museum has other ideas.

Guides in Starfleet uniforms are on hand to explain such scientific concepts as the technical complexity of the transporter system (actually devised by the show's creators to avoid filming expensive shuttle-landing sequences) and what lies behind warped space. Additionally, fans of all ages will see how certain futuristic gadgets made it from screen science fiction to fact, such as the portable phone and the automatic translator, while comparing the Captain's Log to today's palmtop computers.

The original 70 episodes of the Star Trek series introduced a variety of imaginative technologies and plot scenarios which enabled people to become more aware of subjects like space, time, anti-matter and carbon-based life forms.

Leading the fashion parade will no doubt be the legendary yellow Lycra command tunic sported by William Shatner in the original series. Costumes in subsequent series were made out of Spandex and, later on, wool, which made the cast look less muscular but was more comfortable for the actors.

With next year's 30th anniversary of the very first Star Trek series looming, this exhibition should highlight how, from its origins as a low-budget TV series, it developed into a benchmark of 20th-century culture, so successful that a Star Trek episode is being screened somewhere on earth 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Stars of the original series, including Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and Lieutenant Sulu (George Takei), will be making personal appearances at the exhibition during the next few months, so increase warp drive and beam yourself up there.

Star Trek The Exhibition, Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2DD, from October 11 to February 25, 1996. Tickets are Pounds 4.95 (Pounds 2. 95 for concessions and 5 to 17-year-olds). A joint pass for access to both the exhibition and all other Science Museum displays and exhibitions is available for Pounds 8 (Pounds 4.50 concessions and 4 to 17-year-olds). Groups of 15 and more get 10 per cent discount. Education groups call education booking office on 0171 938 8222.

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