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John Wheeler: NASA's asteroid deflecting mission resembles 'Star Trek' episode

Science fiction is good at showing future technology but often not as good at showing future society.

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FARGO — NASA's successful asteroid-deflecting mission this week brought to mind an episode of the television series "Star Trek" in which the Enterprise crew manage to deflect an asteroid headed for a populated planet. In the episode "The Paradise Syndrome," the inhabitants of this asteroid-endangered planet are meant to be extraordinarily similar to indigenous Americans.

However, in standard 1968 television style, these characters are played by non-indigenous actors with heavy, reddish, artificial-looking makeup. They speak in a monotone, staccato voice pattern like most other television actors portraying indigenous Americans at the time. What little we are shown of these people's culture is never anything other than the classic, television depiction of Native Americans in Westerns at that time. Isn't it interesting that science fiction so often can depict future technology but just as often remains mired in the display of societal characteristics of the present?

Related Topics: WEATHER
John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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