'Star Trek' vs. 'Star Wars': Georgia Tech professors weigh in

It's the greatest debate in science fiction, and Georgia Tech faculty, staff and alumni think they know which one really is the best sci-fi franchise -- er, universe.

Anthony Domanico
CNET freelancer Anthony Domanico is passionate about all kinds of gadgets and apps. When not making words for the Internet, he can be found watching Star Wars or "Doctor Who" for like the zillionth time. His other car is a Tardis.
Anthony Domanico
2 min read

The greatest, longest-lasting debate in the science fiction community, "="" or="" "star="" trek"="" reigns="" supreme"="" shortcode="link" asset-type="article" uuid="731ad799-83d5-49c8-b3f1-1319a5b1cc7b" slug="star-wars-or-star-trek-the-debate-rages-on-in-new-video" link-text="whether " section="news" title="'Star Wars' or 'Star Trek'? The debate rages on in new video" edition="us" data-key="link_bulk_key" api="{"id":null,"slug":null,"contentType":null,"edition":"us","topic":{},"metaData":{}}"> , continues to rage, this time in academic circles.

The latest issue of Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine is all about science fiction (and some science reality, of course), and one ambitious article aims to determine which geeky franchise wins. It pits "Star Wars" fan Sherry Farrugia, the school's managing director for health research partnerships, against a self-proclaimed master of all things Trekkie, Gary May, engineering professor and dean of the College of Engineering.

Farrugia argues that the Force is quite literally strong with "Star Wars."

"Through The Force, everything in the universe is connected and there is a constant push and pull between good and evil, love and hate, compassion and aggression, and honesty and deception," Farrugia writes. "In many ways, it is a reflection of modern society painted on a canvas of sophisticated characters, complex relationships, fast-changing technology and political upheaval."

Georgia Tech's Gary May and Sherry Farrugia show off their geeky allegiances.

Josh Meister/Georgia Tech

When it comes to "Star Trek," May thinks the series has amazing technology and a cast of characters that represents a diversity practically unheard of when the original series debuted in 1966. Those aspects, he says, helped bring the best part of the series -- the stories themselves -- to life in a way that sticks with viewers today.

"The most compelling aspect of 'Star Trek' was, without a doubt, the stories -- the awe they inspired and how they made us think about the human condition," May writes. "Ultimately, what these stories did was illustrate universal human themes like friendship, loyalty, love, sacrifice and our underlying connectedness."

Both Farrugia's and May's arguments are compelling, but they didn't settle the matter definitively one way or the other, so the editors at the magazine asked others featured in the issue what they think.

Georgia Tech alum like GameStop CEO Paul Raines and NASA's Messenger mission operations manager Andy Calloway, as well as GT literature and media professor Lisa Yaszek, all weighed in on which sci-fi universe has the edge. "Star Wars" ever so slightly beat out "Star Trek" among the group.

You can read more of Farrugia's and May's arguments, and find out why the panel of Georgia Tech faculty, staff and alumni gave the nod to "Star Wars," by reading the article in full on the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine web page. Then be sure to watch CNET's own Rich Trenholm and Luke Westaway debate "Star Wars" vs. "Star Trek" below, and let us know in the comments which franchise you think is the best.

Watch this: Which is better: 'Star Trek' or 'Star Wars'?