Farewell Leonard Nimoy

February 28, 2015

In the 1970s our family, wood effect colour TV only had 3 channels (although it had 6 buttons… (just in case?)) to watch. In those days, children were the remote control.

“Turn over to ITV son, nearly time for Corrie” my mum would say.

<Clunk>

In the 1970s I don’t remember watching (and enjoying) many TV programmes with my parents, but there was one – Star Trek. I used to lie next to my dad on the living room floor (my dad had a thing about lying on the floor to watch TV) once a week and I was captivated.

Space ships, fights, aliens, strange new worlds… Kirk got the girl, McCoy told us he wasn’t a plumber, Scotty would somehow get the Enterprise through her latest disaster even though she cannae tak any more and Spock would find find things ‘Fascinating’.

In those days I didn’t know what physics was, but I knew I wanted to be like Spock, to study stuff and work out how it worked. That seemed like the best of things to do, to be.

Turned out that I wasn’t the cleverest kid, pretty bright, but no genius. However, I loved to learn, loved to know how stuff worked (many a toy suffered a carefully studied dismantling).

In 1983 my parents bought me a computer, a Commodore 64. I began to teach myself how to program, I found amazing worlds in games such as Elite (which introduced me to the Fantasy, Horror and Science Fiction author Robert Holdstock as a bonus). In Elite I got to boldly go where no-one had gone before (at least, in my own mind). I had friends, but not many, I never really tried to fit in. My parents will testify that I spent much of my time alone in my bedroom on my computer, or around the house of those close friends’ on their computers.

At school I discovered Physics and Computer Studies and, having got my GCSEs went on to study Physics at A-level. I didn’t do particularly well, but I scraped enough grades together to get me to University and I continued with my studies, Physics and Computer Science. Once again, I did enough, loved the learning but struggled to reproduce it in my exams.

Star Trek: The Next Generation was on the TV, it was good, but that concentrated, logical science role was watered down, distributed amongst the cast. There wasn’t anybody quite like Spock, except for Spock of course, who made a guest appearance in a few episodes.

After graduation I began working for the MOD, who put my multi-discipline degree to good use. I was finally a proper scientist and remained so for 13 years. I continued to study, doing a Masters part-time and while I’m no longer a scientist (except in my heart and outlook on the world), having moved into academia, I continue to find things ‘fascinating’.

On Tuesday this week my youngest daughter was ill and off school and she cuddled up next to me on the sofa. When she turned the TV on, it happened to be on CBS action and they were showing digitally remastered episodes of Star Trek, The Original Series. This particular episode was This Side of Paradise. An episode (made in 1969) where the crew, including Spock, are infected with spores that make them happy, content, chilled out and emotional. It was an episode I remember watching with my dad back in the 1970s and here I was, with my daughter, at the same age, watching the same episode thirty-five years later. The generational baton had been passed. I was incredibly happy. So, when I heard that Leonard Nimoy had died yesterday the news stopped me in my tracks, because, having watched that classic Trek episode with my 7yo had reset my time clock. Spock and therefore Leonard Nimoy was in his 30s again. I had forgotten he was 83 and in recent poor health. The last time I had seen him he was hanging upside from a tree branch, laughing and smiling…

On social media I have met like-minded people and so my News and Twitter feeds are full of unbelievably touching tributes to Leonard Nimoy. He wasn’t just my inspiration, he was the inspiration to hundreds, if not thousands of scientists and engineers and we are united in a strange sense of loss.

Gamers playing Star Trek Online met on Vulcan, their avatars stood in spontaneous and silent tribute.

Star Trek Online - Leonard Nimoy Tribute

Star Trek Online – Leonard Nimoy Tribute (thanks to Gabriel Souto)

Above us in the International Space Station, Astronaut Terry Virts paid the most simple and beautiful of tributes.

@AstroTerry on ISS pays his respects.

@AstroTerry on ISS pays his respects.

No doubt many more of my childhood inspirations will slip away in the years to come, they (and I) are of that kind of age, but there is still something very sad about losing ‘my’ Spock.

He lived long and he prospered.

Thank-you.

John

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Comments

Comments

  1. Gabriel Souto says:

    Thanks a lot John, great words.

    • John says:

      Thank-you, Gabriel, I found your tribute incredibly moving and I thank-you for allowing me to share your images.

  2. Abbie says:

    Even though I don’t share your interests in Star Trek and Science, John, I was really moved by this. You write with such emotion and passion. Brilliant post!

    • John says:

      Thank you Abbie – that really does mean a lot, both as an appreciation of the blog and my (emotional) writing.

  3. Alexandria says:

    John,
    I, too, used to lie on my stomach on the floor in front of the TV to watch Star Trek. I guess we didn’t have enough furniture for all of us, and, in the ’60s, parents got the couch. I remember I had to do extra chores to get to watch ST because no one else in the house liked it.

    I loved Spock. He was different. He didn’t fit it. He was almost a “freak” though ultimately he was respected by most of the characters he came into contact with. He made me feel less alone in the Universe, less like the “freak” my parents called me — although he might have just made me feel it was OK to be a freak, as long as you were true to yourself.

    Thank you for the lovely, emotional tribute to Leonard Nimoy. If he’d read it, he would have raised his hand to you, smiled, and said LLAP.

    Love and hugs,

    • John says:

      Thank-you A. Spock has clearly given many a social misfit a sense of hope and a positive outlook.

      Thank-you for your lovely comment.

      LLAP.

      John x

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