Archive
2015
January
February
August
2014
July
August
December
2013
January
May
2012
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
Aug. 01, 2014

'Dune' Discussion Question: Week #2

by Annie Minoff

Click to enlarge images
Welcome to week #2 of the SciFri Book Club’s Dune discussion! Hopefully by now you’ve cracked the cover of Herbert’s ecological opus, and if you haven’t, well, there’s no time like the present. Seriously. This thing’s a doorstop.
 
Last week, SciFri Book Club member Kim Stanley Robinson asked us to think about how Herbert’s “Duniverse” might reflect our world today—or, as he put it, “What do you see in the book that is a funhouse mirror reflection of our world right now?” (See that dicussion question here.)
 
Ecologist and Dune fan Jeb Barrett had this to say about Dune’s contemporary relevance:
 
 
Our week #2 question comes from SciFri Book Club member Sara Imari Walker. As an astrobiologist and theoretical physicist, Sara’s been having fun thinking about how some of the more “sci-fi” aspects of Dune might be explained with modern science.
 
In particular, she’s curious about the mystical sisterhood known as the Bene Gesserit, which appears early in Dune. Chief among the women’s powers is their ability to inherit the memories of previous generations of “Reverend Mothers,” giving them a view far back into humanity’s past.
 
Here’s one question that Sara says she’s been “rolling around” for a few weeks:
 
Could the Bene Gesserit’s powers be real based on what we know from modern science?
 
“There is some scientific basis that part of our genetic material, at least, is coming just from female ancestors,” says Sara. For example, “the DNA in your mitochondria—which you have in every cell of your body—only comes from your female ancestors.” But how memories might figure in, she’s not so sure.
 
Adds Sara, “It is interesting to think that many of the Bene Gesserit’s powers might have some basis in science and that humans could outpace advanced AI even in the distant future, much like the Bene Gesserits and Mentats take the place of advanced computers in Dune."
 
What do you think? Could the Bene Gesserit's powers be real? Respond in the comments below, or on Twitter using the hashtag #scifribookclub. And see what your fellow Book Club members are saying on our RebelMouse page.

 

About Annie Minoff

Annie Minoff is Science Friday’s SciArts producer. She's visited Olympic ski jumps and a nuclear reactor in the name of science.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.
EVAL ERROR: Entity: line 1: parser error : Space required after the Public Identifier

                                                 ^
Entity: line 1: parser error : SystemLiteral " or ' expected

                                                 ^
Entity: line 1: parser error : SYSTEM or PUBLIC, the URI is missing

                                                 ^

Code:
line 1: package tmpevalpackage;
line 2: sub doEval { 
line 3: 	my($parent);
line 4: 	
line 5: 	if($LayoutManager::url_resolved_values{'SEGMENT.nickname'}) {
line 6: 		$parent = $LayoutManager::url_resolved_values{'SEGMENT.nickname'};
line 7: 	}
line 8: 	elsif($LayoutManager::url_resolved_values{'VIDEO.nickname'}) {
line 9: 		$parent = $LayoutManager::url_resolved_values{'VIDEO.nickname'};
line 10: 	}
line 11: 	elsif($LayoutManager::url_resolved_values{'DOCUMENT.nickname'}) {
line 12: 		$parent = $LayoutManager::url_resolved_values{'DOCUMENT.nickname'}
line 13: 	}
line 14: 	
line 15: 	if($parent) {
line 16: 		my(@books) = &Database::SelectClause('BOOK',"parent = $parent");
line 17: 		if(!@books) {
line 18: 			$parent = '';
line 19: 		}
line 20: 	}
line 21: 	
line 22: 	if(!$parent) {
line 23: 		my(@sel) = &Database::SelectClause('GLOBAL','record all ""');
line 24: 		if(@sel) {
line 25: 			$parent = 'GLOBAL.' . $sel[0];
line 26: 		}
line 27: 			$main::ENV{'reading_header'} = "FEATURED READING";
line 28: 	}
line 29: 	
line 30: 	 = '';
line 31: 	
line 32: 	if($parent) {
line 33: 		my(@books) = &Database::SelectClause('BOOK',"parent = $parent");
line 34: 		0 = 0;
line 35: 		my $dots;
line 36: 		foreach(@books) {
line 37: 			my(%data);
line 38: 			&Database::GetRow($_,'BOOK',\%data);
line 39: 			my($status,$title,$author,$url,$image,$width,$height) = &SciFri::Schema::getAmazonItem($data{'isbn'});
line 40: 			if($data{'title'}) {
line 41: 				$title = $data{'title'};
line 42: 			}
line 43: 			if($data{'author'}) {
line 44: 				$author = $data{'author'};
line 45: 			}
line 46: 			if($status eq 'ok') {
line 47: 				 .= "<div class=\"box-2x1-item box-slide\" data-href=\"$url\">";
line 48: 				 .= "	<div class=\"box-2x1-item-photo\">";
line 49: 				 .= "		<div class=\"image-wrapper\" data-jsclass=\"imageWrapper\" data-align=\"right\">";
line 50: 				 .= "			<img src=\"$image\" data-width=\"$width\" data-height=\"$height\">";
line 51: 				 .= "		</div>";
line 52: 				 .= "	</div>";
line 53: 				 .= "	<h4>$title</h4>";
line 54: 				if($author) {
line 55: 					 .= "	<p>by $author</p>";
line 56: 				}
line 57: 				 .= "	<div class=\"box-2x1-more-button\"><a href=\"$url\"><img src=\"/images/v1/icon_text_more_white.png\" width=47 height=15 border=0></a></div>";
line 58: 				 .= "</div>";
line 59: 				++0;
line 60: 			}
line 61: 		}
line 62: 	}
line 63: 	if($parent eq "GLOBAL.1") { $main::ENV{'reading_header'} = "FEATURED READING"; }
line 64: 	else { $main::ENV{'reading_header'} = "RELATED READING"; }
line 65:  };
line 66: &doEval();
line 67: 1;

Science Friday® is produced by the Science Friday Initiative, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

Science Friday® and SciFri® are registered service marks of Science Friday, Inc. Site design by Pentagram; engineering by Mediapolis.

 

topics