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In Star Trek, crew members traveled to unusual planets, met diverse beings, and encountered unique civilizations. Throughout these remarkable space adventures, has Star Trek reflected biology and evolution as we know it? What can the science in the science fiction of Star Trek teach us? In Live Long and Evolve, biologist and die hard-Trekkie Mohamed Noor takes readers on a fun, fact-filled scientific journey into biological concepts – particularly evolution and genetics – by voyaging through multiple Star Trek series and movies.
With a plethora of scenes, examples, and in-depth explanations, Noor offers Trekkies, science fiction fans, and anyone curious about how life works a cosmic gateway into introductory biology, including the definitions and origins of life, DNA, reproduction, and evolutionary processes, such as natural selection and genetic drift. For instance, in the episode "Evolution", he shows how the rapid change in a population of nanite robots follows basic principles of natural selection that apply to species on Earth. With the well-known "The Trouble with Tribbles", Noor explains how the fertile creatures are bisexual and not asexual, and what evolutionary advantage that difference provides. And through the segments "Melora", "Demons", and "Terra Prime", he considers the biological issues of interspecies mating. Noor further discusses the importance of research and how Star Trek has influenced scientists to engage in cutting-edge work.
Live Long and Evolve gives readers an irresistible, entertaining vehicle to deconstruct some of the powerful science behind one of the longest-running science fiction series in popular culture.
Besides being a Trekkie, Mohamed A. F. Noor is a professor in the Biology Department at Duke University. He is the editor-in-chief of the journal Evolution and author of You're Hired! Now What?: A Guide for New Science Faculty. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.
"Calling all Trekkies! The answers to questions about evolution may not be found in Star Trek, but they just might be in this wry and wonderful new book. Live Long and Evolve turns what sounds like meaningless biobabble from the shows into thoughtful explanations of everything from mutations and sexual reproduction to what life really is."
– Marlene Zuk, author of Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us about Sex, Diet, and How We Live
"A world-class geneticist and lifelong Trekkie, Mohamed Noor combines his two passions in this wonderful new book. To read it is the only logical course of action."
– Lee Alan Dugatkin, coauthor of How to Tame a Fox (and Build a Dog): Visionary Scientists and a Siberian Tale of Jump-Started Evolution
"Live Long and Evolve leverages the huge amount of interest in Star Trek to examine basic concepts of biology, genetics, and evolution. Exploring where the show gets it right and gets it wrong, Mohamed Noor does a lovely job tying an incredibly popular and enduring set of characters and stories to real science. This engaging, clear book isn't afraid of having fun."
– Maria E. Orive, University of Kansas
"This effectively organized and well-written book uses examples from various Star Trek shows and movies to illustrate the fundamentals of biology, notably evolution and genetics. Arguing for the importance of basic science, it will be useful and of interest to many audiences: teachers, scientists, and Star Trek fans of all ages."
– Norman A. Johnson, author of Darwinian Detectives: Revealing the Natural History of Genes and Genomes
"I played Ensign Harry Kim on Star Trek Voyager and started out in college as a biology major, so this book resonates with me in a unique way. In Live Long and Evolve, Mohamed Noor draws upon his extensive knowledge of Star Trek to help explain the nuances of evolutionary biology with a style that is both informative and entertaining."
– Garrett Wang
"In Live Long and Evolve, Mohamed Noor uses Star Trek, a show that probed the deepest questions of biology, as a springboard into some of the most exciting fields of science."
– Carl Zimmer, author of She Has Her Mother's Laugh: The Power, Perversions, and Potential of Heredity