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Google doodle celebrates ‘Star Trek’ birthday

Set phasers to fun! Forty-six years ago this week the science fiction TV show “Star Trek” warped into existence, and today Web search giant Google celebrated the iconic series’ birthday with an interactive doodle tribute.

The doodle transforms the crew of “Star Trek’s” starship Enterprise into the Google logo (Captain James T. Kirk is an ‘O’, Spock’s the big ‘G’) and honors some of the TV show’s most popular episodes. You can beam Kirk ‘O’ and a hapless redshirt down to a dangerous planet, fight a Gorn alien and even jump into your trouble with Tribbles … but only if you know where to click.

The brainchild of TV writer/producer Gene Roddenberry, “Star Trek” made its television debut on Sept. 8, 1966. It starred actor William Shatner as Capt.Kirk, with Leonard Nimoy portraying the pointy-eared Vulcan Spock. The series’ cast also included DeForest Kelley as Leonard “Bones” McCoy, the ship’s doctor; Nichelle Nichols as communications officer Uhura; George Takei as navigator Sulu; and James Doohan as chief engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott.

Despite an initial three-year run, “Star Trek” has spawned a decades-long franchise that includes four TV spinoffs and 11 feature films, with a 12th film set to hit movie screens in 2013.

Even NASA has felt the Vulcan nerve pinch of Star Trek fandom.

NASA named its first space shuttle Enterprise after the TV show’s starship at the urging of die-hard fans, who wrote in to christen the prototype shuttle. Shatner and his fellow Enterprise “crewmates” were onhand at the shuttle’s dedication in 1976.

The space shuttle Enterprise was used for landing tests only, but never actually flew in space. It is on display at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City.

When NASA delivered the shuttle Enterprise to New York City in April, Leonard Nimoy, reprising his Spock character’s catchphrase, said he hoped the shuttle would “live long and prosper” in its new museum home.

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