Star Trek

Leonard Nimoy Influenced Us All

As Spock, Leonard Nimoy played a pivotal role on the original Star Trek series and movies. Star Trek painted a picture of diversity - different races, cultures, and species working together to make things right in the universe.  It served as a great example of the power of science fiction, especially as a young African American geek that struggled to see diversity in other forms of media that I love. 

Sci-fi author Cerece Rennie Murphy had a great point about the power of sci=fi on the latest Black Girl Nerds podcast:

 "It's all about what it means to truly be human, or to truly be a part of a community. What it means to stand alone and stand together. It's all this stuff that we are grappling with - cut straight to the chase. There may be aliens and space chases, but that's all window dressing. Science fiction is all about who you are, discovering you are, finding a way to be who you are in a world that's telling you to be something else.

That's something that we can all identify with. It can be hard to truly find yourself .Nimoy's characters always excels at displaying that struggle, whether as Spock or William Bell.

Even modern astronauts are influenced by this, especially given the international cooperation required in projects such as the International Space Station.

NASA Astronaut Mike Fincke and ESA European Space Agency Astronaut Luca Parmitano reflect on the inspiration that actor Leonard Nimoy's character Mr. Spock in the television series Star Trek had on scientists, engineers, space explorers and fans around the globe. For a high-resolution version:

Check out some other great images shared on Twitter to celebrate the passing of Leonard Nimoy.

Space: The Final Frontier of Laughter

Even science geeks deserve some laughs near the end of the year. Check out this gag reel from the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. I picked this up while browsing Jon Wiley's stream on Google+.

One of my favorite parts comes at the 6 minute mark, where two characters Worf and Rikers just can't keep a straight face and the video crew is clearly frustrated. Makes me wonder how long it took to record an entire show.

If you can't see the video below, click here.

The Most Interesting Science In The World

Y'all all know him. He does all kinds of great thing while being drunk on the finest Dos Equis beers. Well, it turns out that he was an extra on Star Trek back in the day - the kind of extra that always died.  These extras became known as "Red Shirts", because most of the non-essential characters in Star Trek had a red uniform. But because he is the Most Interesting Man in the World, he survived! Check out the proof at!

Star Trek + Endeavour = Amazing.

Image from Star Trek online


Thanks to the Black Tribbles for putting me up on this. Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura on the original Star Trek, gave a speech and impromptu song at the Los Angeles landing ceremony. See previous coverage of the trek from Floria to Los Angeles in previous posts here and here.

Ms. Nichols broke ground as one of the first black women featured in a major television series not portraying a servant. She's a very important part of American history, and I'm happy to see that recognized on a large scale. Check out the video of her singing below.


Spaaaaace: Voyager Leaves the Solar System

Image from NASA. Not the best impression to send to another species

Licking, eating, and drinking. This is one of the images inside of Voyager 1, a spacecraft launched by NASA in 1977. NASA has received confirmation that Voyager has reached the edge of the solar system, becoming the first man made object to do so.

Voyager's primary missions of analyzing the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn occurred in the early 80s. In the 90s, Voyager pointed itself back towards earth and captured the now famous Pale Blue Dot photo, showing our planet in all of us nothingness amongst the vastness of space. How many electronic devices do have that still work after all of that time? Who knows what Voyager will accomplish next?

Voyager is well prepared for anything interesting that it may bump into. Wonder how we will communicate? By using science that any space fearing civilization would need to know. For example, the plaque adorning the spacecraft can be translated in the following way:

The key to translating the plaque lies in understanding the breakdown of the most common element in the universe - hydrogen. This element is illustrated in the left-hand corner of the plaque in schematic form showing the hyperfine transition of neutral atomic hydrogen. Anyone from a scientifically educated civilization having enough knowledge of hydrogen would be able to translate the message

All of the other information, including greetings in multiple languages and scenes from Earth, is encoded on 12-inch gold-plated copper discs. As described, "each record is encased in a protective aluminum jacket, together with a cartridge and a needle. Instructions, in symbolic language, explain the origin of the spacecraft and indicate how the record is to be played. The 115 images are encoded in analog form. The remainder of the record is in audio, designed to be played at 16-2/3 revolutions per second. "

If we launched a probe now, would it contain a giant iPod? And would that iPod travel so far that it becomes reprogrammed by another species and eventually becomes self aware? That's exactly what happened with the Voyager spacecraft in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Check out the film clip below of Captain Kirk making the discovery: