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Star Trek’s Color Addiction Reflects Future

Why the franchise’s rainbow palette may live on (sorry red shirts)

When Star Trek first hit the airwaves in 1967, one could not help but notice the show’s expansive use of color. The sets, costumes and lighting all used bright, vibrant colors whenever possible. Of course the main reason for this was to get people who had just bought new high-tech color televisions to tune in, yet even in this regard, “Star Trek” was on the money.

More modern, “realistic” depictions of space tend to show spaceships bathed in primarily white metal. Everything from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Alien,” “Sunshine” and “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” all have ships that are white or calm in tone (although in “Star Wars” it was a dingy white to be sure).

Now those are all excellent films and considered realistic, yet in the end “Star Trek” is probably closer to the mark. In fact, no matter what version of Star Trek you’re watching, from the original “Star Trek” to “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” the use of color, lighting and wood is almost certainly more realistic.

Why? Well, while NASA is using sterile looking white now, that will almost certainly change for longer manned voyages into space. Study after study has shown that colors affect a human being’s mood. Pink tends to calm, while red tends to excite. Brilliant, bright yellow light helps with depression, while the tactile feel and look of wood helps a user feel more connected to the machine. Colors can immediately tell a person not to touch something, or that a person is a doctor or a member of a fire team. Meaning that guys from security might just be wearing red shirts after all.

So a variety of colors, lighting and tactile feel are important for crews’ physical and physiological safety on year-long-plus trips to distant worlds. After all, it’d get pretty dang dull looking at white metal walls for two years in a row.

I’d also guess that the use of analog dials, meters and switches seen on nearly every version of Star Trek would be used for the same reasons — they are in the end simply more user friendly, both physically and mentally. So the use of multiple shades of color, curves, wood and large panels with lots of buttons seen on the bridge of Capt. Picard’s Enterprise may very well be seen in the ship used for the first manned journey to Mars, and on whatever colony is established there.
Which I think is pretty sweet.

Related Topics: Star Trek 

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