Science on Screen: DUNE



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Frank Herbert’s DUNE is probably the most popular science fiction novel ever (over 12 million of copies sold). It has everything – a complex and dynamic main hero, great villains, neat ecology (planetology!), philosophical and religious insights, and (what is particularly fascinating to me) a well-structured social world. I have written before on this topic (see the ‘Dune Hypothesis’ and Psychohistory and Cliodynamics).

On Tuesday, April 9, the Science on Screen program, which pairs scientists with entertaining films, will be screening David Lynch’s adaptation of DUNE, and I am giving an introductory talk before the movie. I will be talking about how well Herbert constructed the social reality of DUNE from the point of view of the new science of Cliodynamics, as well as the writings of the fourteenth century’s Arabic sociologist Ibn Khaldun.

If you live in Hartford area, join us! The screening will be at 7 pm, and the directions are here.


Notes on the Margin: all the commentaries on Harvey Whitehouse’s article have been published. Harvey’s response to these comments will be published as soon as I get it, which in turn depends on him returning from Vanuatu safe and hale in early April.

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Malcolm Dean

Will the discussion be recorded?

Peter Turchin

I don’t think so. But I plan to blog about the main points afterwards.

Peter Turchin

It was recorded. But the quality of sound was not great.

Paul N.
Bill Thorne

As a layperson, I found your presentation at Real Art Ways fascinating. While my math skills are not up to yours, your webpage answered many of the questions I had. Thank you for bringing this field to my attention.

Peter Turchin

Thanks for coming! I just posted my presentation on this blog.


Do you teach? I find as the quality of research at UConn has risen, the quality of the presentations has declined. You probably have a graph on that.
I taught at E O Smith for many years (forestry/wildlife). In the end, I brought my students to very few lectures because, often the package is as important as the contents, at least with high schoolers. You package extraordinarily well. Thank you

Peter Turchin

Thanks for the nice words. I currently teach a fun course on Human Evolution. My part is cultural and social evolution (the first half addresses genetic evolution and is taught by my colleague in the department). Students seem to enjoy it, and we actually have to turn away a few as we don’t have enough seats in the auditorium.

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