BIOLOGY OF STAR TREK
Dirk Wyle's explorations in cyberspace uncovered Dr. Athena Andreadis, scientist and author. Athena is a bench scientist working on regulatory mechanisms of the human tau gene. Upsets in tau gene regulation can cause disruption of the axon and formation of pathological structures called neurofibrillary tangles, as found in brains with Alzheimer's disease.
Athena also writes popular science. Her "To Seek Out New Life" is an interesting book describing the possibilities of extraterrestrial life and analyzing the "Star Trek" series from a biologists point of view.
Or, as she puts it, the book "roams through all the biological questions posed by Star Trek, some of which are very relevant to contemporary science .... Starting with the possibility of life based on elements other than carbon, I examined humanoid hybrids, shape-shifters, androids and cyborgs; investigated immortality, prostheses, suspended animation, engineered humanoids, parasitism and extrasensory perceptions; chuckled over the holodeck, the transporter and the universal translator; and finally cast a look over the societies shown in the series, as well as the ethics that guide the explorers of the Federation."
The book received excellent Kirkus and Booklist reviews and has attracted a large audience.
Dirk was especially impressed with her essay/manifesto "Why Science Needs Science Fiction". Every major human endeavor has been driven by dreams and myths. When the strife is o'er, the Story must be told. Particularly interesting is her description of the economics and sociology of biomedical science, as seen from the lab bench. It seemed reminiscent of Dr. Rob McGregor's conversations with Ben Candidi in "Pharmacology is Murder."
Although Boston-based, Athena also has a foot in Southern Florida. "Miami and the Keys are among my favorite places -- my Greek bones think they're in the Mediterranean and the tempo of life (late nights, leisurely pace) also resembles that of my natal culture."
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