(written from a Production point of view)
During the writing process of Star Trek V, William Shatner envisioned that God was to have resided at the center of the universe. Gene Roddenberry disagreed, stating that there was no center of the universe, and even if there were, there was no way that the center of the universe would have been discovered within the eleven percent of the galaxy had that been explored by the 23rd century. As a result, Beichman was sent to Paramount in response to Harve Bennett's request for someone to explain that there was no center of the universe.
According to Beichman, "Bill [Shatner] had this idea of going to the center of the universe, and the idea was to find out where that was. Whether you take a left of a right, and how you program it into the computers." Beichman explained that he was consulted to discuss "some possible where's and why's and how's and get something that will look at least coherent and believable within the overall confines of the whole Star Trek idea."
Beichman began this process by having a number of sessions with Shatner, Bennett and David Loughery to discuss the overall sense of cosmology and the hierarchy within the universe, and that "the concept cosmologically of there being a center of the universe doesn't really work because it's infinite and expanding." Beichman added that "if you go back and look through all the series and movies, Star Trek had, in fact, never left our galaxy," ultimately shifting the focus back to our galaxy. "So what becomes a place that they might go which is distant, far, and dangerous in the context of where they are in the exploration of the galaxy would be the center – which is a very interesting place astronomically – it has huge explosions going on and such," Beichman said.
Another part of Beichman's role was to conjecture what would be found at the center of the galaxy once it was reached, explaining, "We think there are barriers around the center itself. There are giant clouds, stars forming, pulsars going off. There's all sorts of violent activity." Beichman's contributions fit into the film's writers theory that described the Great Barrier surrounding the center of the universe, only now brought down in scale to that of the galaxy.
Once Beichman defined the destination, resolving the most controversial issues in the film's outline, Shatner said he "felt like we had made a tremendous amount of progress by the end of the first draft." (Captain's Log: William Shatner's Personal Account of the Making of Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)
Beichman currently serves at the Executive Director of the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute at the California Institute of Technology and Jet Propulsion Laboratory.