Life Signs: The Biology of Star Trek

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9780060191542: Life Signs: The Biology of Star Trek

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.

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Review:

Claiming inspiration from Lawrence Krauss's The Physics of Star Trek, the Jenkinses focus on the biological logic (or illogic) behind the alien ecologies in Star Trek--the original TV series and all of its sequels and movie spinoffs. The best parts are the biological bloopers, even though only a fan will truly appreciate them. For instance, how did the Klingons evolve forehead ridges between the original and the new series ... and why do all the planets look like California?

The science in the book helps the authors hypothesize about how humanoid life might have evolved throughout the universe (panspermia revisited). They offer simple evolutionary theories to explain the various head shapes and behaviors of fictional alien species. An entertaining read for a Star Trek science nerd. --Therese Littleton

About the Author:

Susan Jenkins, M.D., is a psychiatrist and Medical Director of Associates 2000, P.A., a Neurodevelopmental clinic.

Robert Jenkins, M.D., Ph.D. runs a research laboratory investigating cancer genetics and is codirector of the clinical cytogenetics and molecular genetics laboratories at the Mayo Clinic. Together they study biology and watch Star Trek with their children in Rochester, Minnesota.

Susan Jenkins, M.D., is a psychiatrist and Medical Director of Associates 2000, P.A., a Neurodevelopmental clinic.

Robert Jenkins, M.D., Ph.D. runs a research laboratory investigating cancer genetics and is codirector of the clinical cytogenetics and molecular genetics laboratories at the Mayo Clinic. Together they study biology and watch Star Trek with their children in Rochester, Minnesota.

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Jenkins, Robert M. D. Ph. D. Susan Jenkins M.d
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Book Description Harpercollins Publishers Canada, Limited, Scarborough, On, Canada, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. First Edition. Clean bright copy. ; 1st printing, 189 pg. , remainder, This pair of Dr. Authors had one goal, to entertain, to teach, and to share some favorite Star Trek moments. Their compact but informative book succeeds in all three tasks. Each of the nine chapters takes on a related set of biological issues raised by the Star Trek TV series and films, explaining how the world created by the Star Trek writers meshes with that of our own. Bookseller Inventory # 001091

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