BEAM ME UP, BEZOS!
In 1966, when I was just 14 years old, I became a regular viewer of the TV series “Star Trek.” Each week I watched Captain James T. Kirk pilot the Starship Enterprise through space, the final frontier, boldly going where no man had gone before!
Accompanying Captain Kirk on the Enterprise was a fabulous crew. There was his Chief Science Officer, Dr. Spock, a half-Vulcan, half-human, emotionless genius. There was Bones McKinney, Ensign Chekov, Lt. Sulu, and Chief Engineer Scotty Scott.
At the same time I was watching the Star Trek TV series I was also watching real TV astronauts blast into space, including Alan Shepherd on Freedom 7, and John Glenn orbiting the Earth. A few years later, I watched Neil Armstrong take that one small step for man, and one giant leap for mankind on the moon.
But Captain Kirk was lightyears ahead of all those real astronauts. When Neil Armstrong was walking on the moon, Captain Kirk was on the surface of distant planets.
Sometimes on those planets, Captain Kirk got in trouble when he encountered aliens. Actually, Captain Kirk was the alien on those planets, and was encountering indigenous space men. When Captain Kirk faced such trouble, he did something really cool. He held in his hand a small device that looked like a modern cell phone. It was a transporter. He held it up to his face and said, “Beam me up, Scotty!”
At that point, Chief Engineer Scott would use the transporter to convert Captain Kirk’s body into energy particles, and then transport him safely back to Enterprise.
The phrase “Beam me up, Scotty!” became a very poplar one in America in the 1960s. I often used it myself. One day in a high school algebra class, I was trying to solve a problem on the blackboard at the direction of Mr. Norris, my algebra teacher. For the life of me, I could not solve the problem. Mr. Norris kept reprimanding me. Finally, I took the blackboard eraser, pressed it against the side of my face, the explained, “Beam me up, Scotty!”
My classmates thought it was wonderful. Unfortunately, Mr. Norris did not, and I barely passed algebra.
Long after I graduated from high school and even college, I saw Tom Hanks manage to get the disabled spacecraft Apollo 13 home. When I saw him do that, it occurred to me that if he only had Captain Kirk on board with him, he could have had the Captain grab his transporter and shout, “Beam us home, Houston!” At that point, Tom Hanks, Captain Kirk, and Kevin Bacon would all be safely back in Houston, where they would no longer have a problem.
Next Tuesday, Captain Kirk will return to space, this time for real. Ninety-year-old William Shatner, the actor who played Captain Kirk, will be on board Blue Origin, the spacecraft developed by billionaire Jeff Bezos. Bezos is the founder of Amazon, who boldly took us all shopping where none of us had ever shopped before!
When Blue Origin is about to blast off into space, there will not be a traditional countdown of 5-4-3-2-1! Instead, Captain William Shatner Kirk will exclaim, “Beam me up, Bezos!”