The science of Dune: May we actually make good medication?

Within the universe of science fiction epic Dune, spice melange, normally simply known as ‘the spice’, is a invaluable narcotic substance. It is shaped solely within the sands of the planet Arrakis from the excretions of younger sandworms.

The spice confers well being advantages, for instance rising life expectancy. It’s additionally extremely addictive, creating an unlimited demand and making it an especially valuable commodity. Whoever controls the spice inevitably holds management over each different faction within the Dune universe.

This may increasingly have historic parallels in the actual world. As science author Dr Carol Hart famous in her chapter on melange within the 2008 guide The Science Of Dune, “In pre-Columbian America, the coca leaf was, considerably like melange, largely reserved for the noble and priestly courses of the traditional Incas. In truth, the ruling courses retained their energy partly by their monopoly on the coca leaf.”

Spice additionally has dramatic mind-altering properties, enabling a post-human species often known as the Guild Navigators to see throughout huge swathes of house so as to information spacecraft on lengthy interstellar journeys. The Navigators dwell in tanks, regularly inhaling orange spice gasoline in such portions that it grossly mutates their our bodies.

Even reasonable publicity to the spice stains your entire eye of the consumer a deep darkish blue, a trait seen within the Fremen individuals of Arrakis, because of their fixed publicity to the substance – and maybe not not like the persistent pupil dilation that may accompany real-world leisure drug use.

Exposure to the spice turns the user's eyes a deep blue © Warner Brothers
Publicity to the spice turns the consumer’s eyes a deep blue © Warner Brothers

The Bene Gesserit are additionally avid spice customers. It imbues them with the facility to see into the longer term – and heightens their psychological skills, which in a free sense may mirror the rise at the moment of nootropic medication, ‘good tablets’ taken by these looking for a psychological edge. Their makers declare the medication can enhance cognitive features like reminiscence, consideration, creativity and motivation. Certainly, they’re typically prescribed to deal with circumstances resembling ADHD and dementia.

But there may be concern over the non-prescription use of nootropics. A 2020 examine by the Harvard Medical Faculty in Boston, Massachusetts, discovered that these ‘dietary supplements’ can include medication not but authorized for pharmaceutical use. “Use of those dietary supplements poses probably severe well being dangers,” says examine creator Dr Pieter Cohen.

  • This text first appeared in subject 369 of BBC Science Focus Journallearn how to subscribe right here

Learn extra concerning the science of Dune:

  • The science of Dune: May we terraform Mars?
  • The place the concepts behind Dune‘s unusual universe got here from
  • Dune: May we make a superhuman?

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