Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now  arrow.png

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

    Please leave this field empty

Headshot of Mat Kaplan

Leonard Nimoy: A Science Fan’s Appreciation

Posted by Mat Kaplan

28-02-2015 12:02 CST

Topics: obituary, personal stories

In the Star Trek universe, the Milky Way galaxy has been seeded with hominid genes by an ancient race that wished to spread its descendants throughout the stars. This was both a gift to themselves and to the producers of myriad Trek series and movies, justifying the use of cheap makeup and appliances for the largely humanoid aliens met by the crews of the Enterprise. Evolution being what it is, these strangely familiar aliens were also shaped by the worlds they populated, and some of them would eventually reshape themselves. In nearly 49 years of boldly going, one alien character would turn the tables like no other, helping to shape the audiences who watched him. Leonard Nimoy provided his DNA and soul.

I was in junior high when Gene Roddenberry changed my life and the lives of countless millions since. I was already a science fiction fan, but Star Trek hit me like an impacting asteroid. It had almost everything. Strange new worlds. An impulsive, clever captain. A captivating crew. Warp drive. But its aliens were generally just plain humans with greasy makeup. They didn’t just look human. They acted all too human. And then there was First Officer Spock of Vulcan. He was also Kirk’s Science Officer, which was an equally important job on a Federation Starship. (Thanks for that, Gene.)

Too many people believe that Spock prized emotionless logic above all else. This was wrong from the start, and became more wrong as his character evolved. For Spock, nothing was more important or “fascinating” than the gathering of knowledge about life, the universe and everything. Leonard Nimoy imbued him with the curiosity and the naked need to know that is felt by the hundreds of scientists I’ve met, and by so many of the rest of us who simply love science. 

Nimoy obviously felt that need, and he wanted to share it. When you visit the iconic Griffith Observatory in the hills above Los Angeles, you may find yourself downstairs in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon Theater. His philanthropic work leaves an impressive legacy, yet it is Spock’s endless enthusiasm for learning and scientific investigation that is his most influential gift to us. This, and the absolute morality, decency and courage Nimoy gave his pointy-eared alter ego. It’s no wonder Captain Kirk so admires and treasures his alien friend. We all do. Mr. Spock will live long and prosper, thanks to a human named Leonard Nimoy.

See other posts from February 2015


Or read more blog entries about: obituary, personal stories


Bob Ware: 03/01/2015 02:00 CST

All I can do is reiterate the eloquently written words of Mat Kaplan with simple noting, Leonard Nimoy's character portrayal inspired many people not just to sciences but in treating other cultures we would soon encounter in our lives as we would want to be treated. Star Trek was the only TV show with a positive outlook for mankind when it 1st came on the air. I liked that potential future because of that show and I have been a fan since day 1.

hugo pacilio : 03/01/2015 05:58 CST

leave a good legacy as a person, and many for decades, gave us the science and know everything about the cosmos, the series invited to reflect and rethink many things in life, when there was still racial problems in usa, the series was chair of racial tolerance and thoughts. We went the stars.

Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search

Essential Advocacy

Our Advocacy Program provides each Society member a voice in the process.

Funding is critical. The more we have, the more effective we can be, translating into more missions, more science, and more exploration.


Featured Images

Opportunity's unsuccessful attempt to image Schiaparelli
A moon for 2007OR10
Changing light on a butte and distant crater rim, Curiosity sol 1447
Fourteen Curiosity drill holes on Mars
More Images

Featured Video

The Planetary Post - Star Trek 50th Anniversary

Watch Now

Space in Images

Pretty pictures and
awe-inspiring science.

See More

Join The Planetary Society

Let’s explore the cosmos together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!