The Biology of Star TrekBook - 1998
Looks at the biological questions raised by the television programs, and uses the shows to discuss such controversial scientific issues as cloning
It's a routine mission. The Enterprise-D is in synchronous orbit over a Class-M planet to be surveyed for possible colonization. Commander Riker calls the life science team to its station, then Captain Picard orders a "search for life signs." As the principal investigator on this mission, you're up.
What do you do now? With Life Signs: The Biology of Star Trek, you'll know exactly what to do. In this vastly entertaining and informative volume, a research geneticist at a world-renowned medical center and a noted psychiatrist investigate the myriad questions Star Trek raises about "new life and new civilizations." They draw surprising conclusions about everything from the likelihood that any humanoid could be blue in color to the climate on the Vulcan homeworld to what caused the dramatic physiological changes in the Klingon race between the twenty-third and twenty-fourth centuries (something even Klingons themselves avoid discussing).
Life Signs: The Biology of Star Trek pays special attention to the Federation's astonishing technological advances, probing the accuracy and effects of these developments. How might the food replicators work? (And how would replicated food taste?) Is there any scientific basis for all that hyper-high-tech equipment in sickbay? Will it ever be possible to genetically enhance intelligence (the way Dr. Bashir's wits were sharpened when he was a boy)?
The Jenkinses also chart the remarkable parallels between the Star Trek universe and our own. They find earthly analogues to the Pon farr that puts Vulcans in heat every seven years. They hunt down common creatures reminiscent of the "crystalline entity" and the silicon-based Horta. They even introduce us to the billions of life-forms residing in our own bodies and induce us to wonder whether Jadzia Dax's Trill symbiont is really such a far-fetched notion after all.
Throughout, this engaging and authoritative book bristles with insights on the cutting edge of contemporary biology. Discover how close we are to cloning humans. Examine implants and prosthetics that might make the Borg proud. Watch NASA wrestle with the perils of extended space travel as it plans for a three-year-long manned mission to Mars. And learn where no one has gone before -- or ever will go -- as the Jenkinses highlight some of Star Trek's more notable biological bloopers.
Whether you run your own genetics lab or you ran screaming from high-school biology class, Life Signs: The Biology of Star Trek will heighten your appreciation for the mind-expanding magic of Star Trek.
A companion volume to The Physics of Star Trek offers an entertaining, informative look at the biological questions raised by the program, and uses the show to discuss the most controversial issues in science today. National ad/promo.