As I sit here reading through Star Trek birthdays (March and April have quite a few), I realise my one regret in relation to Star Trek is that I never got to meet Leonard Nimoy in person. Leonard whose birthday would have been March 26, was always someone I wanted to meet in person.
By the time I was financially able to go to conventions, his illness had already taken a significant hold. He was no longer doing the convention circuit, much less traveling overseas. The nearest I got was watching a Skype style chat he held for an audience, so essentially he was on a big screen for us, the fans. It was great, but not the same as seeing him in the flesh would have been.
Nimoy and Spock are the reason I got into Star Trek in the first place. I watched the original series on Saturday morning tv and his character enthralled me. Here was an Alien not massively dissimilar to us, which at the time was novel. Films and shows tended to show Aliens as having big eyes, or big heads, claws, tentacles and so on.
He was also a scientist who viewed everything in a unique way, while also professing to be in total control of his emotions ( which we all know he wasn’t ). He was central to most episodes and to Kirks decision making process, plus his wide ranging knowledge helped basically every department on the ship in some way. He was an invaluable member of the crew, in the motion picture he was the one that solved the imbalance with the warp drive, he built a computer using what he basically referred to as Stone Age tools, he also saved the ship and crew members on various occasions. Including one of the most emotional moments in Trek lore, when he died saving the Enterprise. Oh and let’s not forget that beard.
But Spock not only enthralled me because of his immense and wide ranging knowledge, he enthralled me because he could control his emotions. To an extent, I mean some plants opened up emotions to him, As did his friendship with Kirk and McCoy. But for the whole he was in control. He could also use Vulcan techniques to control pain and other body functions. This was what fascinated me.
At the time of me starting to watch Star Trek, and for several years before & after I was in a very dark place. I used to think to myself if I could do what Spock can, control pain and emotion while thinking of a way out, then I could achieve hope and salvation. I mean the telepathy would have been cool as well, but even my younger self knew that wasn’t going to happen, Mores the pity.
All the time he was Spock, all the time. Even when his emotions where compromised by outside forces, he was still Spock. Still an inspiration to me, still a beacon of logic and light.
Leonard Nimoy and his portrayal of Spock didn’t just inspire and give me hope though, thousands of people now openly admit they are scientists of one type or another because of Spock.
Fred Guterl, Executive Editor of Scientific America wrote ;
“I was eight years old when I first got to know Leonard Nimoy, the way many people did, as Spock on the original Star Trek series. The airing of the first episode on our black and white television was an event in my household. I was an instant and forever fan. Although the flamboyantly emotional William Shatner drew more attention, I was deeply impressed by the idea, embodied in the character that Nimoy brought to life, that science is truly the best adventure. That was plain to me even then, thanks to Nimoy.”
There are countless scientists all over the world who would tell you that Mr. Spock was their first favorite scientist. Einstein and Hawking would come later for them, but the dispassionate Vulcan continues to inspire tomorrow.
Leonard Nimoy may be responsible albeit indirectly, for some great steps taken in the sciences because of his portrayal of Spock
Incidentally researchers who met Leonard are always desperate to give him lab tours and explain the projects they’re pursuing in peer-to-peer terms. Mr. Nimoy would nod sagely and say to each one, “Well, it certainly looks like you’re headed in the right direction.”
Also as a side note, the popular comedy Big Bang has a massive Star Trek connection and Mayim Bialik, who plays Amy Farrah, is Dr. Bialik as she has a Ph.D. from U.C.L.A. in … neurobiology. “I tell people, I am a neuroscientist, and I play one on TV,” said Dr. Bialik.
Spock and Nimoy are an inspiration. Having just moved past what would have been his birthday, I find myself thinking about what a great character we have lost as well as a phenomenal actor. Without Spock, I would not be who I am today. I would not have been sucked into Star Trek like I was. With out Spock I would not have had a successful podcast, I would not have been able to retreat into my imagination or hang onto the utopia of what Trek portrayed in the dark. I would not have some of the friends or acquaintances around the world that I have, I wouldn’t be playing Star Trek online or even tried a whole host of other Trek related games, books, articles and collectibles, In fact I wouldn’t even have this blog.
So Mr Nimoy and by association Mr Spock, I hope that on some celestial level you realise how grateful I am for what you did for me, for others and I am sure your proud of how Zachary is now portraying Spock.