Biology in Science Fiction
Science-fiction literature and film extend our awareness of the natural world in amazing ways, as seen in the film "Avatar." Yet real biology is often more amazing than science fiction. This course explores biology through science fiction, and through nonfiction biology more amazing than fiction. We meet human mutants in the "X-Men" and we meet real human mutants in the medical literature. We explore human evolution through Vonnegut's "Galapagos" and discover bizarre living creatures through Herbert's "Dune" and Crichton's "Jurassic Park." We model growth and explosion of populations in "Star Trek's" "The Trouble with Tribbles," and show how global climate change disrupts the marine ecosystem as in Slonczewski's "A Door into Ocean." Students learn to blog science, an important form of online nonfiction writing. Students may not take this course as pass/D/fail. No prerequisite. Generally offered every other year.