The Biology of “Star Trek” (Star Trek)

A neurologist and a psychiatrist walk into a bar at a Trekkie convention and debate the biological aspects of life in space, aging, dna, and brain function in the future as portrayed by Star Trek, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. That’s kind of what’s going on in this book.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it? If you’re a Star Trek fan, it certainly is an illuminating look at various ways in which biology is portrayed in the franchise. The segments at the end where the Jenkins’ consider various ways in which science is portrayed wrongly (ahem…looking at you, Klingons) are really fun.

Definitely some fun trivia here, as well as a mix of biology science stuff explained in both layman’s terms and a bit more complicated depth. Sadly, since the book was published a while back, it is by nature missing some of the more recent franchise stuff, which would have been extra interesting to include. Still, much of the book’s survey of science is true today (although for example it talks about the beginning of the survey of the human genome which is way more advanced now then when the book was written).

Fans of the show might not be surprised by the conclusion the authors draw from the general gist of science and evolution portrayed in Star Trek:

“we have already experienced a series of cultural revolutions…now we are embarked on three more– space exploration, the unlocking of the genome, and a communications revolution of unprecedented scale. We learn not just from direct experience but form the accumulated experience of other human beings. When we do not discard the learning of others through carelessness, warfare, or prejudice, we learn even faster. We have the potential to become better athletes and artists, to become wiser, better educated, more compassionate and tolerant– in a word, more “human”.”

And the vast experience of being human is exactly what Star Trek has always been able to explore in such fascinating ways.