Sunday, March 8, 2015

Mr Spock, Star Trek & the human dimension of science

Image courtesy: African Spring 

Leonard Nimoy is no more. Star Trek - The Original Series - was my pre-physics tutorial fix through the last two years of school (and of physics as it turned out). 
To me, Star Trek was everything that my school science never managed to be. It was about the the excitement, possibilities, processes and ethics of science. I loved it not for the black holes, the time travel, the nifty uniforms and warp speeds but the way it explored social issues and universal human emotions from a futuristic point of view. The sense of distance - both in terms of space and time - helped explore the prejudices and mores of today with greater clarity. And that was the beauty of it. In that sense, it was like exploring social issues from the fictional perspective of a child who can question everything without being called to account. 
Leonard Nimoy, aka Mr Spock - half human, half Vulcan - was that child. His role was to use logic to question all the inherent assumptions of human beings.
Somehow, it was this human dimension that I feel got lost in all the subsequent franchises. It just became about black holes, time travels, nifty uniforms and warp speed. 
Leonard Nimoy may be dead. But Mr Spock will live long and prosper, I reckon.

Here's an episode from Star Trek in which Mr Spock fell in love (albeit with the help of some flower spores): This Side of Paradise