Skeptics Cinema & Sci Screen Presents: Star Trek II, Wrath of Khan (1982)

It is the 23rd century. Admiral James T. Kirk is an instructor at Starfleet Academy and feeling old; the prospect of attending his ship, the USS Enterprise–now a training ship–on a two-week cadet cruise does not make him feel any younger. But the training cruise becomes a deadly serious mission when his nemesis Khan Noonien Singh–infamous conqueror from late 20th century Earth–appears after years of exile. Khan later revealed that the planet Ceti Alpha VI exploded, and shifted the orbit of the fifth planet as a Mars-like haven. He begins capturing Project Genesis, a top secret device holding the power of creation itself, and schemes the utter destruction of Kirk.

Presentation before the movie – Lesley Henderson of Brunel University and Simon Carter of The Open University: What can we Learn from the Doctors of Star Trek

We think that doctors should be particularly interested in Star Trek, not least because doctors have always featured prominently in every reincarnation of the franchise.

Indeed, the President of the American Medical Association, Dr Robert Wah, named Star Trek’s iconic physician Leonard “Bones” McCoy as his favourite fictional character because he represents the perfect combination of scientific knowledge and human compassion. But what else can we learn from Star Trek? In a recent paper we published in BMJ Medical Humanities, we suggested that doctors in space embody societal anxieties about the future of medicine, health technologies, and healthcare.