Vulcan (Star Trek)
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Leonard Nimoy as Spock, a male human/Vulcan hybrid
|Home world||Vulcan New Vulcan|
|Official language(s)||Vulcan, Vuhlkansu, High Vulcan|
|Affiliation||United Federation of Planets|
Vulcans (also Vulcanians) are a fictional extraterrestrial humanoid species in the Star Trek franchise who originate from the planet Vulcan. In the various Star Trek television series and movies, they are noted for their attempt to live by logic and reason with no interference from emotion. They were the first extraterrestrial species in the Star Trek universe to observe first contact protocol with humans.
- 1 Biology
- 2 Psychology
- 3 Culture
- 4 Homeworld
- 5 History
- 6 Character development
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Vulcans are depicted as similar in appearance to humans. The main physical differences are their eyebrows and ears: the former are arched and upswept, while the latter feature pinnae that taper to a point at the top. The ears have been the subject of jokes on many occasions. Vulcans have been portrayed as various races. Most caucasoid-like Vulcans (most of those shown throughout the series' runs) typically appear with a subtle greenish hue to their skin, due to Vulcans' copper-based blood, which is green. Other features described include an inner eyelid, or nictitating membrane, which protects their vision from bright lights, an adaptation for their bright, hot home world. In addition, their hearts are located on the right side of the torso, between the ribs and pelvis; as Dr. McCoy once says about Spock: "He is lucky that his heart is where his liver should be, or he'd be dead!" (ST:TOS, "A Private Little War")
Vulcans are vegetarians by choice and were omnivores in ages past. In the Star Trek original series (TOS) episode "All Our Yesterdays", Spock willingly consumes meat; partly as a result of the effects of time travel 5,000 years into the past, and partly because he reasons there is no other suitable food available given the harsh, ice-age climate in which they are trapped; he later expresses regret at his consumption of the meat. Vulcans are repeatedly stated to be herbivorous in the TAS episode "The Slaver Weapon", by the carnivorous Kzinti. Vulcans do not like to touch their food with their hands, preferring to use utensils whenever possible (though there are numerous cases where Vulcans have broken this rule). It is a Vulcan custom for guests in the home to prepare meals for their hosts (Star Trek: Enterprise episode: “Home”).
Vulcans are said not to drink alcohol, though they are depicted indulging on special occasions or as a storyline warrants. In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Repression", humans and Vulcans are shown drinking a Vulcan alcoholic drink called "Vulcan Brandy". In the TOS episode "The Enterprise Incident", as part of his diversionary role during an espionage mission against the Romulans, Spock shares a drink known as Romulan ale (a green beverage) with the female Romulan commander. In a later TOS episode "Requiem for Methuselah", Spock specifically requests a Saurian brandy after Dr. McCoy, while serving himself and Captain Kirk, observes that he had no expectation that Spock would be joining them in a drink for fear that the alcohol would affect his logic faculties. In Star Trek: First Contact, when the Vulcans first meet Zefram Cochrane, he serves them alcoholic beverages, which they take in lieu of dancing. In "non-canon" Trek-related literature, such as the novelization of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Vulcans are depicted as immune to the effects of alcohol (though in the TOS episode "The Naked Time" a strange affliction infects the crew, that has much the same effect as alcohol, and Spock is also affected and becomes emotional, and even starts to cry).
There are references to Vulcans becoming inebriated by ingesting chocolate. (This is alluded to in DS9 when Quark offers a Vulcan client some Vulcan Port or chocolate, in speaking of which he implies something sexual.) The novelization of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home also shows Spock reacting almost as if drunk to the ingestion of Sucrose, or common table sugar, contained in a peppermint candy. He tells Kirk that it has the same effect on Vulcans as alcohol does on humans.
Approximately every seven years, Vulcan males and females experience an overpowering hormone imbalance known as pon farr, often focused on their mates or an object of desire, if there is no mate or they are out of reach. Once triggered, a Vulcan must have sexual intercourse with someone, preferably their mate. If this is not possible, meditation may be used to stabilize their chemical imbalances and help them cope, though this is not always sufficient. In the event that neither of these solutions can be achieved, the Vulcan will face insanity, loss of self-control, and death.
If a mate is not available, there are other ways to relieve the effects of the pon farr. The first is meditation, by means of which the Vulcan must overcome the urge to mate through mental discipline. The second is violence. This is seen in the Voyager episode "Blood Fever", when B'Elanna Torres and Ensign Vorik fight in the traditional Vulcan manner. The violence ends the pon farr. The other option is extreme shock; in the TOS episode "Amok Time", Spock believed he had killed James T. Kirk, his "best friend", thus providing sufficient shock to nullify the effects of pon farr. When he experienced pon farr, Tuvok of the USS Voyager made use of a holodeck simulation of a temporary mate that resembled his wife. This holodeck simulation was created because The Doctor was unavailable to administer, as the dialog of the episode suggests, a medicine that he had prepared to help Tuvok overcome the effects of pon farr. Infection is another mechanism writers have used to induce pon farr in Vulcan characters (such as T'Pol in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Bounty").
In the TOS episode "This Side of Paradise", Leila Kalomi hints at having had a special relationship with Spock some six years earlier, though Spock's remark that he hoped his half-human blood would see him "spared" the agony of pon farr in the episode "Amok Time" suggests that their relationship was more casual. Likewise in the film Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, the regenerated adolescent Spock went through at least two pon farr episodes at accelerated speed. As his mate was not available on the Genesis planet (where Spock underwent the two pon farr periods), it was implied that he mated with Lt Saavik, a female half-Vulcan, half-Romulan scientist on the crew of the Enterprise who showed compassion in guiding him through the accelerated pon farr. In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, a deleted scene was intended to confirm the implication (i.e., that Saavik bore Spock's child); its removal from the film, however, struck it from Trek canon.
Despite popular opinion, TOS writer and story editor, Dorothy C. Fontana, insists that pon farr is not the only time that Vulcans feel sexual desire or engage in sexual activity:
Vulcans mate normally any time they want to. However, every seven years you do the ritual, the ceremony, the whole thing. The biological urge. You must, but any other time is any other emotion—humanoid emotion—when you're in love. When you want to, you know when the urge is there, you do it. This every-seven-years business was taken too literally by too many people who don't stop and understand. We didn't mean it only every seven years. I mean, every seven years would be a little bad, and it would not explain the Vulcans of many different ages that are not seven years apart.
Vulcans are typically depicted as stronger, faster, and longer-lived than humans (although discrepancies have occurred—and although not as long as Vulcans, humans have been shown to live longer in the Star Trek universe than today—presumably as the result of advances in medical science). Vulcans are about three times as strong as an average human because of their home planet's higher gravity, although their durability is equal to humans. There are instances of them living over two hundred and twenty years. Having evolved on a desert world, Vulcans can survive without water for longer periods than humans. Vulcans can also go without sleep for as long as two weeks. Romulans are similar in appearance to Vulcans, with whom they share a common ancestry.
Vulcans are capable of experiencing extremely powerful emotions (including becoming enraged enough to kill their closest friend); thus, they have developed techniques to suppress them. T'Pol once stated that paranoia and homicidal rage were common on Vulcan before the adoption of Surak's code of emotional control. In the original series episode "The Savage Curtain", Spock meets Surak and displays emotion, asking forgiveness.
While most Vulcans do maintain control over their emotions, the advanced ritual of Kolinahr is intended to purge all remaining vestigial emotion; the word also refers to the discipline by which this state is maintained. Only the most devoted and trained Vulcan students attain Kolinahr. In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Spock was unable to complete this ritual after receiving powerful telepathic signals from space and experiencing strong emotions as a result. The Vulcan masters conducting the trials concluded that since Spock's human blood was touched by these messages from space, he could not have achieved Kolinahr, and the ritual was halted.
The term for the purge of emotion is Arie'mnu. It is stated that it does not translate properly into any Earth language. In Diane Duane's novel Spock's World, it was suggested that Arie'mnu closely translates into "passion's mastery", but that linguist Amanda Grayson, Sarek's wife and Spock's mother, in her work on the universal translator, had mistranslated the Vulcan word to mean "lack of emotions".
Some Vulcans, such as T'Pol, Sarek (in his later years, due to a rare disease that can affect Vulcans over the age of 200 years), and Soval, carry their emotions close to the surface, and are prone to emotional outbursts, even without outside influences or illness; T'Pau certainly displayed restrained but definite emotions in the TOS episode "Amok Time", including suspicion of the human visitors followed by admiration and approval of their friendship for Spock, and contempt for Spock's humanity. There is some evidence to support the hypothesis that Vulcans who remain in close contact with humans for an extended period of time may become more emotional than Vulcans who do not. Established canon has yet to make a definitive case for this.
Not all Vulcan characters follow the path of pure logic; some instead choose to embrace emotions. A group of renegade Vulcans who believed in this was encountered in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "Fusion", while Spock's half-brother Sybok, seen in the film Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, was also fully emotional. An episode of Enterprise titled "E²" featured an elderly T'Pol in an alternative timeline who had embraced emotion and allowed her half-human son, Lorian, to do likewise.
In the pilot episode "The Cage", Spock showed much more emotion. "Number One", played by Majel Barrett, was supposed to be the emotionless character. Although the test audience indicated they liked the actress, they hated the character because they could not relate to a female who was so "cold". As a result, the character of Christine Chapel was created for Barrett and the "coldness" was transferred to the Spock character.
Many Vulcans are contact telepaths. They have been observed taking part in several telepathy-related actions and rituals, including an instance in the Season 2 episode "The Immunity Syndrome" (written by Robert Sabaroff), where Commander Spock was telepathically aware of the simultaneous deaths of 400 other Vulcans on a faraway ship whose crew was entirely Vulcan, the USS Intrepid. In addition, in the Season 1 episode "A Taste of Armageddon", without physical contact, though with considerable time and effort, Spock was able to telepathically foster enough doubt in the mind of his cell guard to cause him to want to enter the cell to verify that his prisoners had not escaped.
A mind meld, first depicted in the TOS episode "Dagger of the Mind", is a technique for sharing thoughts, experiences, memories, and knowledge with another individual, essentially a limited form of telepathy. It usually requires physical contact with a subject, though instances of mind melds without contact have been seen (for example, in the episode "The Devil in the Dark"). Vulcans can perform mind melds with members of most other species, most notably humans, with Jonathan Archer being the first known human participant in such a ritual in 2154. Even the Earth humpback whale can be successfully melded with. The Ferengi are one of the few races known to be impervious to the mind meld; mentally disciplined Cardassians may also be resistant to mind melds if properly trained. It is not established if this potential ability is inherent to Cardassians, or if members of any race could be trained to resist a mind meld. Machines, such as the Nomad probe, have been melded with even if only through complete contact. In the animated Star Trek episode "One of Our Planets Is Missing", a touch-less melding with a gaseous nebular entity was depicted.
Mind melds have been used to erase memories, as Spock performed on James T. Kirk in the TOS episode "Requiem for Methuselah". Mind melds can also allow more than one mind to experience memories and sensations, and sometimes even interact with the memories, as seen in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Flashback".
The mind meld can be considered a terrible intimacy because of the strength of Vulcan emotions and the strict psycho-suppression disciplines in which they are trained, and thus not to be taken lightly. In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Sarek", the title character (Spock's father) is diagnosed with Bendii Syndrome, a disease that causes sufferers to lose control of their emotions. Executing a mind meld with Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Sarek gains enough emotional stability to complete his final diplomatic mission; however, Picard nearly goes insane from the overwhelming onslaught of Sarek's unchecked emotions.
Though mind melds are frequently portrayed as a consensual act, that is not always the case. In the TOS episode "Mirror, Mirror", Spock of the Mirror Universe performed a forced mind meld on Dr. Leonard McCoy to learn what McCoy was keeping secret. Mind melds can also be violating and potentially harmful under certain circumstances. In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Spock forcefully used the technique on Valeris to discover information she had that could be used to prevent a war; Valeris began screaming just before Spock broke the connection.
The use of the mind meld was taboo for a period of time. In the Vulcan timeline, this changed when experienced melders were shown to be able to cure Pa'nar Syndrome, a condition passed on by melders who are improperly trained. Within a week of the Kir'Shara incident in 2154, the stigma against mind-melders was evaporating, and sufferers of Pa'nar were being cured in large numbers. By the mid-23rd century, the mind meld is a fully accepted part of Vulcan society, and was even used once to rejoin Spock's katra with his healed physical body.
As originally depicted in TOS, mind melds were considered dangerous and potentially lethal. Over the course of the original series, however, the element of risk was no longer mentioned, although it was revived on Star Trek: Enterprise with the revelation that Pa'nar Syndrome can be transmitted this way.
For a number of years, it was held that not all Vulcans are genetically capable of initiating a mind meld, such as T'Pol. However, the overthrow of the Vulcan High Command in 2154 revealed that this is not the case, and T'Pol conducted her first mind meld soon after.
Some Vulcans appear with advanced mental abilities. For example, in the TOS episode "A Taste of Armageddon", Spock was once able to induce uncertainty in the mind of a prison guard on Eminiar VII, and in the episode "The Devil in the Dark", he was able to perform a limited mind meld with a horta without actually making physical contact with the being. A character in the non-canon New Frontier book series mentions "meld masters", implying that some Vulcans are either especially adept at or are able to perform deeper, more intense melds through practice. It is made apparent that a touchless meld is limited in effectiveness compared to physical melds. During more intense melds, the melder is sometimes shown using both hands.
Some Vulcans appear able to "cheat death" by implanting their "katra", essentially their living essence or spirit, into an object or another person via a form of mind-meld just before death. Dr Julian Bashir in the episode "The Passenger" of Deep Space Nine referred to this phenomenon as "synaptic pattern displacement". The history and mechanics of the katra have never been discussed in great detail in canon. The Star Trek: Enterprise Season 4 trilogy of episodes ("The Forge", "Awakening", and "Kir'Shara") do however reveal some of the history of mind-melding and the journey of the katra of Surak to modern times.
Katras can, on rare occasions, be returned to the body, effectively bringing an individual back from the dead. Such was the case with Spock, who, near the end of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, implanted his katra into the mind of Dr. McCoy before sacrificing his life to save the USS Enterprise from Khan's attack. Following Spock's death, McCoy began exhibiting Vulcan-like behavior and was briefly institutionalized. It was later discovered that Spock's body came to rest on the Genesis Planet after his burial in space, and was regenerated. He was recovered and was taken with McCoy to Mount Seleya on Vulcan where a Vulcan high priestess named T'Lar performed a rare, seldom-attempted ritual called the "fal tor pan", literally, "re-fusion", which removed the katra from McCoy and implanted it into Spock's regenerated body. Subsequently, Spock recovered, although it took some time to fully retrain his mind. Eventually, Spock's original memories apparently reasserted themselves, and he resumed his duties in Starfleet, albeit with trial and error before the 'old' Spock was completely back.
The Vulcan language was the first alien language introduced in the Star Trek franchise, in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Amok Time", including the concept of “pon farr” (time of mating). Afterwards, one word was said in the episode "Journey to Babel" and some others in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager. The language features mostly in several chapters of Star Trek: Enterprise.
It has also appeared in novels derived from the franchise, like the word "t'hy'la" (friend, brother, lover) from Gene Roddenberry's novelization of Star Trek: The Motion Picture.
The scene in Star Trek: The Motion Picture was filmed with actors speaking English and latter dubbed in Vulcan. It ends with the phrase "Dif-tor heh smusma" (Live long and prosper). According to Robert Wise's commentary in the Director's edition DVD, it was Gene Roddenberry's idea to have the Vulcans speak their own language. The translation into Vulcan was made by actor James Doohan. Doohan observed the actors' lip movements and created new vocal "sounds" for them to dub over their original English.
According to the DVD commentary of the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, actors Leonard Nimoy and Kirstie Alley, portraying Spock and Saavik respectively, also spoke their lines in English, and later dubbed in Vulcan (at least partially designed by linguist Marc Okrand) that corresponded with the movements of their mouths in the scene.
The treatment of Vulcan names has been erratic throughout Star Trek's production history. Early on, female Vulcans were typically given names beginning with "T" followed by an apostrophe then a "p". The earliest reference to Vulcan names following a set pattern dates back to a May 3, 1966 memo from TOS producer Robert H. Justman to Gene Roddenberry (later reprinted in the book The Making of Star Trek) in which Justman recommended that all Vulcan names begin with "SP" and end with "K", and have exactly five letters. (It is clear from the context of the book, however, that the memo was intended as a joke, as the series of memos ends up discussing the pronunciation of such names as "Spook", "Spilk" and "Spork".)
Only non-canonical sources have provided any Vulcans with family names, which are usually spoken of as defying attempts at both human pronunciation, especially with English-language phonemes, and human typesetting, especially with the characters of the modern Latin alphabet used for the English language. Hence, no canonical source has given any family names to any Vulcan characters, and indeed, every one of the personal names previously mentioned are all officially described as being only Latin-alphabetical and English-phonetic approximations of the real ones. On TOS, Spock was once asked if he had another name, to which he replied, "You couldn't pronounce it."
Vulcans practice arranged marriage, in which a male and a female are bonded as children, with consummation at a later date. Spock explains that this childhood pairing has no one-for-one human analogue, as it is considered less than a full "marriage", but more than simply a "betrothal". This is why Spock first described T'Pring as his "wife", before later explaining that this was an incorrect approximation. Following adult union, it is customary for the couple to remain on Vulcan for at least one Vulcan year before conducting off-world travel, though it is possible to defer this requirement until a later date, upon negotiation with the male's family. The state of pon farr is not required for marriage to occur. The mating session of a Vulcan (pon farr) includes the private act of sex undifferentiated from the human version of mating.
A Vulcan female can challenge the proposed bonding by calling for "koon-ut-kal-if-fee", meaning "marriage or challenge", in which a challenger for marriage engages the bonded male in a fight to the death. Alternatively, the bonded male has the option of rejecting his intended bride and choosing another. It is acceptable for a male to "release" his mate from marriage (effectively the same as a divorce). It is not established whether females have the same option, and T'Pring stated in "Amok Time" that a koon-ut-kal-if-fee challenge was the only way she could legally divorce Spock.
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It is customary for Vulcan children to undertake an initiation ordeal known as the "Kahs-wan" (sometimes spelled Kaswahn), in which they are left to fend for themselves in the desert for a specific period of time. Not all children survive this rite of passage. T'Pol underwent the ritual, while Tuvok experienced a variation known as the "tal'oth". The Kahs-wan was first introduced in the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "Yesteryear", in which Spock's experience as a child was detailed.
Contrary to the Vulcan image of expressing no emotion, family bonds can be strong and affectionate just as they are for humans. Tuvok expressed his love for his wife on a few occasions (without actually using the term), Sarek openly expressed affection for both his human wives, and a clear bond of love existed between T'Pol and her mother, T'Les.
Fighting and self-defense
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Although generally adhering to a philosophy of nonviolence, Vulcans have developed martial arts and techniques of hand-to-hand combat. Vulcan martial arts are highly ritualistic and based on philosophy, similar to human counterparts such as karate and Silat. The most extreme example is the koon-ut-kal-if-fee, or fight to the death, described earlier, though one particular discipline is known as "Suss Mahn" (named for Star Trek: Enterprise producer Mike Sussman).
Many Vulcans are skilled in a self-defense technique known as the "Vulcan nerve pinch" or "neck pinch", which targets a precise location on the neck, rendering the victim unconscious (sometimes instantly, sometimes after a short delay depending on the subject). The pinch was first depicted in production in the TOS episode "The Enemy Within", but first aired one episode-broadcast earlier, in "The Naked Time". The mechanics of the pinch have never been explained in on-screen canon. While practiced mainly by Vulcans, it is apparently not exclusive to their race; for example, Jonathan Archer and Jean-Luc Picard are depicted as having mastered the technique after each became involved in a Vulcan telepathic ritual (Archer holding the katra of Surak; Picard having undergone a mind-meld with Sarek, as well as later apparently undergoing a mind-meld with Spock, who was also skilled in combat beyond simply using the nerve pinch, after Sarek's death in the second part of the two part episode Unification).
Seven of Nine is depicted as capable of using this ability in the episode of Voyager, "The Raven". She is able to defend herself against the Vulcan Tuvok, who is attempting to subdue her with the pinch, and then successfully use the pinch against him. It is assumed her knowledge of the pinch was part of her wealth of Borg knowledge, which they would have gained by assimilating Vulcans capable of using the pinch. The android Data also displayed this ability in "Unification, Part II". None of these four characters, however, were depicted using the skill regularly.
Leonard McCoy attempted to use the "neck pinch" while carrying Spock's katra in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, but was unsuccessful due to his arthritis. In "Whom Gods Destroy", Garth of Izar performs the neck pinch on Orion female Marta while masquerading as Spock, using his shape-shifting ability. Tongo Rad, a Catuallan, employed a similar technique to render a Starfleet officer unconscious by driving his thumbs suddenly and firmly into the sides of the officer's neck in the original-series episode "The Way to Eden". In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Spock, while he and Kirk were riding on a San Francisco city bus, used the nerve pinch to subdue a rude punk who had ignored Kirk's asking to turn off his boom box as his music was too loud, to the other passengers' relief. The technique was also used by Spock to subdue James Kirk in the 2009 film, when Kirk opposes Spock's decision as captain of the USS Enterprise to reunite with the remainder of Starfleet in the Lorentian system, instead of pursuing Nero immediately.
Depictions of the effects of a nerve pinch vary. In "The Enterprise Incident", Spock pretended to apply a "Vulcan death grip" to Kirk, in order to convince Romulan onlookers that Kirk had been killed. The death grip was later described as fake; Spock had used a particularly powerful nerve pinch to place Kirk in a deep unconsciousness that convincingly resembled death, to the extent that Kirk's lifesigns did not register on the sensors in the Enterprise sick bay. Kirk spontaneously awoke a short time later, complaining of neck pain but suffering no lasting injury.
The neck pinch itself (referred to in scripts as 'FSNP', or 'Famous Spock Neck Pinch') was created by Leonard Nimoy, who objected to a scene in "The Enemy Within", in which a transporter malfunction had divided Kirk between his good and evil selves, that required Spock to render the "evil" Kirk unconscious and subduing him by hitting him over the head with the butt of a phaser. Nimoy was convinced that such overt violence, in addition to being too similar to that found in many crime dramas of the time, was uncharacteristic of the strictly-logical Spock, and suggested the neck pinch as a less-emotional alternative.
"Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations"
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The theme of "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations" is symbolized by the Vulcans in a "Kol-Ut-Shan", represented as a pendant of yellow and white gold with a circle and triangle resting upon each other, and adorned with a white jewel in the center.
Spock wore the symbol during important gatherings and ceremonies as part of his dress uniform. It appeared for the first time in the Star Trek: The Original Series (TOS) episode "Is There in Truth No Beauty?" It also appeared in Spock's quarters in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. In the series Star Trek: Enterprise, T'Pol is given, through her in-name-only husband Koss, an IDIC pendant from her mother T'Les that projects a holographic relief, enabling T'Pol and Captain Archer to find the location where T'Les and the Syrrannites are hiding. Also in Star Trek: Enterprise, T'Pol, the science officer, holds an IDIC pendant in "Terra Prime" while she is in mourning for her dying cloned child Elizabeth, named in honor of Charles "Trip" Tucker's deceased sister. In the Enterprise episode "The Andorian Incident" the IDIC symbol appears on small playing pieces that are being used to construct a makeshift map of the P'Jem catacombs in an attempt to escape. In the series DS9 episode "Take Me Out to the Holosuite", Captain Solok, an Academy classmate and longtime rival of Benjamin Sisko, challenges Sisko and other DS9 personnel to a baseball game against his Vulcan team, the Logicians. The IDIC symbol appears on the Vulcans' ballcaps.
The Vulcan IDIC pendant was designed by Gene Roddenberry as a marketing premium long before the third season. As early as the end of the first season, fans of the show had begun writing in asking for copies of the scripts, film clip frames, etc., and these were soon sold through Roddenberry's mail-order company, Lincoln Enterprises, founded by Bjo Trimble and her husband John before they were fired by Roddenberry and the business turned over to Majel Barrett. As evidenced in some of his letters and memos, Roddenberry was fond of circle-and-triangle designs and had wanted to use them for purposes of theatrical unity as early as the first season's "The Return of the Archons". As reported by editor Ruth Berman (issue #1, Inside Star Trek, July 1968, pp. 15–16), "ardent rock hound and amateur lapidary" Roddenberry came up with the Vulcan philosophy after he presented Leonard Nimoy with a unique "hand-crafted piece of jewelry", a "pendent" (sic) of polished yellow gold (circle) and florentined white gold (triangle), with a stone of brilliant white fabulite—an artificial gem "developed by the laser industry and used in space mechanisms for its optical qualities", and thus well-suited as a gift for an actor in a science fiction show. Readers were encouraged to submit their interest in such a product to the then-Star Trek Enterprises mail order firm. It was noted that "less expensive materials" would keep costs down.
According to William Shatner in Star Trek Memories, the book about TOS he dictated to Chris Kreski, IDIC was only worked into the episode "Is There in Truth No Beauty?" as an afterthought. The actors all knew it was a mere advertising toy. Reportedly, Leonard Nimoy was asked to wear it and refused, so it was passed on to Shatner; when he also refused, Nimoy reluctantly agreed to wear it. At the last minute, Roddenberry sent down several pages of new script for the dinner scene, in which Spock was to give a long-winded explanation of the philosophy. The actors refused to film it until Roddenberry cut it down.
In the Star Trek universe, Vulcans are seen to have a consistent ethical system involving satisfying the preferences of the greatest number of people, even if it means sacrificing the interests of a fewer number of people. This perspective is most similar to the human utilitarian ethical system. In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Spock sacrifices himself to save the lives of those on the Enterprise, stating that "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." In Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), Spock uses the same logic to justify his attempt to sacrifice himself. In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Galileo Seven", Spock states that "it is more rational to sacrifice one life than six." In Star Trek: Enterprise, T'Pol states that "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" is a Vulcan axiom.
Generally, however, Vulcans are portrayed as adopting a nonviolent stance unless there is a need to sacrifice one life to save many. In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Journey to Babel", Spock says that "Vulcans do not approve of violence", and that it is illogical "to kill without reason".
The Vulcan homeworld, also named Vulcan, was mentioned in the original series, and in the script-adaptation anthology Star Trek 2, author James Blish put the planet in orbit around the star 40 Eridani A, 16 light years from Earth, an identification later adopted by Roddenberry. Vulcan is a reddish Minshara-Class planet. Its inhabitants were originally called Vulcanians; Spock used this name in the TOS episodes "A Taste of Armageddon" and "Court-Martial", as did Federation colonists in "This Side of Paradise" and Harry Mudd in "Mudd's Women".
In Season 1 of TOS, in "The Man Trap", while Uhura is attempting to make conversation with Spock, he informs her that Vulcan has no moon.
Much of its surface consists of deserts and mountain ranges, and large areas are set aside as wilderness preserves. It is much hotter, it has a stronger surface gravity, and its atmosphere is thinner than that of Earth. As a result of these factors, humans tend to tire out more quickly than native Vulcans.
The capital of and largest city on Vulcan is ShiKahr. Other major cities on Vulcan include Vulcana Regar, T'Paal, Gol, Raal, and Kir. Most major governmental bodies and embassies are located in ShiKahr, including the Vulcan High Command (historically), the first United Earth embassy on Vulcan, and the Vulcan Science Academy.
In the 2009 film Star Trek, Vulcan is destroyed by a Romulan ship commanded by Nero. Using his ship's mining tools, Nero drilled into the core of the planet to deliver a small amount of red matter, creating a singularity within the planet. The black hole created consumed the planet from the inside, killing almost all of its inhabitants.
By Star Trek Into Darkness a Vulcan colony had been established named "New Vulcan". New Vulcan is effectively the Vulcan home world in the alternate timeline. In Star Trek Beyond, Vulcan couriers deliver news to Mr. Spock that his original timeline counterpart Ambassador Spock has died.
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Vulcans once practiced a form of polytheism; this can be seen in gods of war, peace, and death depicted on the Stone of Gol, as well as the celebration of Rumarie. The DVD commentary for "Amok Time" says that TOS writer D. C. Fontana named the Vulcan god of death "Shariel", a bust of whom is seen in Spock's quarters.
In about the 4th century AD, Vulcans emerged from their violent tendencies and civil wars under a philosopher named Surak, who advocated the suppressing of emotion in favor of logic. This period was known as the "Great Awakening", and much of present-day Vulcan philosophy emerged from this period. According to the Star Trek: New Frontier book series (which, like all novels, are not considered canon), the Great Awakening caused many wars and conflicts to occur amongst various Vulcan tribes; those who supported Surak's cause would become separated from friends and even close family members who did not. For cases in which parents were separated by this, a ritual was created called the "ku'nit ka'fa'ar", a battle to determine which parent would maintain their child. Despite the acceptance of Surak's teachings, generations of imperfect copies of his writings, combined with changes in the Vulcan language over time, resulted in a diluted form of the culture he instituted.
Surak's views and lifestyle were not universally accepted by Vulcan society. One particular group of Vulcans who called themselves "those who march beneath the Raptor's wings" were so adamant in their opposition against Surak that it resulted in a nuclear war fought with neutron bombs, of which Surak himself became a victim. After a time the portion of Vulcan society who rejected Surak's teachings left the planet for the stars. These Vulcan separatists would eventually become known as the Romulans. Knowledge of the common ancestry of Romulans and Vulcans would obscure into myth over the millennia, and while some Vulcans had direct dealings with Romulans in the 22nd century, the common ancestry would not become widely known until the mid-23rd century.
A great deal of Star Trek spin-off fiction, in particular the novel The Romulan Way by Diane Duane and Peter Morwood, has stated that the leader of the Vulcan-Romulan migration was a close follower of Surak's named S'Task. S'Task would see the founding of the Romulan Empire, but was killed by political factions shortly thereafter.
Vulcans did recover from the effects of barbarism and turn much of their attention to space travel for 1,500 years. What would later become known as the Vulcan High Command was initially formed to orchestrate space exploration, but it ended up seizing control of the Vulcan government.
Spock was one of three Starfleet officers from the 23rd century who travel in time to 1930s New York City, in the TOS episode "The City on the Edge of Forever". He would also briefly travel to Earth in 1968 on a mission, in the episode "Assignment: Earth"; accidentally in 1969, in "Tomorrow Is Yesterday"; and again in 1986, in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. (Technically speaking, these three events occurred after the founding of the Federation, but are included here as they constitute pre-First Contact encounters with contemporary humans.)
In 1957, the launch of Sputnik I, Earth's first artificial satellite, was observed by a Vulcan vessel that subsequently crashed on the planet, marooning several crew members for a number of months in Carbon Creek, Pennsylvania; this constituted the first true contact between humans and Vulcans, but it was never recorded as such as the humans were unaware of the alien nature of their guests.
On April 5, 2063, Vulcans and humans made official first contact near the town of Bozeman, Montana, following the successful test of Earth scientist Zefram Cochrane's first warp-powered starship, as depicted in Star Trek: First Contact.
In 2097, the Vulcans annexed the Andorian planetoid Weytahn and renamed it Pan Mokar.
In 2105, the Vulcans and the Andorians agreed to a compromise over Weytahn/Pan Mokar. Still, tensions continued due to the threat of mutual annihilation.
By the 22nd century of Star Trek, the Vulcan High Command is apparently a form of military government that controls both the Vulcan space fleet and most of the planet itself. Most of the Vulcans, including T'Pol, from Star Trek: Enterprise served the High Command. It is dissolved in the early fourth season of Star Trek: Enterprise.
In 2151, Sub-Commander T'Pol joined the crew of the Earth Starfleet vessel Enterprise (NX-01), within a couple of weeks setting a Vulcan endurance record for serving aboard a human vessel. In 2154, T'Pol became a commissioned officer with Starfleet.
Throughout the run of Star Trek: Enterprise, Captain Jonathan Archer frequently had run-ins with the High Command—even after Archer proved conclusively, several times, that he was able to travel through time, the High Command stubbornly refused to acknowledge the possibility that time travel could ever be possible (although T'Pol tried to keep an open mind). The High Command, on at least one occasion, sent Vulcan starships to actively spy on the Enterprise and report on the ship's activities (see episode "Breaking the Ice"), an act that infuriated Archer.
However, this was not the end of the High Command's questionable activities. They appeared to participate in open acts of persecution towards other Vulcans, such as isolating and quarantining victims of Pa'nar Syndrome rather than treating them; prejudicial acts against any Vulcan proven to have committed a mind meld; and hunting down and capturing, even often killing, members of the underground dissident group, the Syrranites.
In 2154, V'Las, the head of the High Command and undercover agent for the Romulans, bombed the United Earth embassy on Vulcan in an attempt to frame and eliminate all Syrranites while simultaneously attempting an invasion of Andoria. He was foiled by the crew of the Enterprise. During these events, the Kir'Shara, a device containing the original writings of Surak, was discovered by Jonathan Archer. This led to the prompt dissolution of the High Command and a reevaluation of traditional values. It also resulted in Vulcan agreeing to stop "looking over Earth's shoulder" in space exploration matters.
It was revealed to viewers that the High Command's illogical and often emotionally based actions were, in reality, the result of covert Romulan influence. The Romulans had secretly made contact with V'Las and attempted to reunify their long-lost peoples. After the invasion of Andoria was foiled, the High Command was disbanded and V'Las was dismissed from his post. Subsequently, the altered political climate on Vulcan caused the undercover Romulan operative Talok to leave Vulcan, apparently ending the infiltration.
After the dissolution of the High Command, the Vulcan space fleet experienced a serious shortage of personnel, many of whom were still sympathetic to the old guard. Minister T'Pau, who now oversaw Vulcan's fleet operations, attempted to rebuild the fleet with personnel who understood true logic.
On August 12, 2161, Vulcan became one of the founding members of the United Federation of Planets.
In the time of Star Trek: Enterprise, Vulcans are often seen to be rather arrogant and cold in their behavior towards humans. It is explained that after first contact, Vulcan shared technology with Earth, but many humans, such as Jonathan Archer, greatly resented the fact that Vulcans seemed to be holding back humanity's efforts at space travel. Soval, Vulcan's ambassador to Earth, appeared particularly distrustful of humans, and was often at odds with Archer and his crew. Soval later justified this behavior in the fourth season episode "The Forge":
'We don't know what to do about humans. Of all the species we've made contact with, yours is the only one we can't define. You have the arrogance of Andorians, the stubborn pride of Tellarites. One moment you're as driven by your emotions as Klingons, and the next, you confound us by suddenly embracing logic"
Soval also explained that, since Earth recovered from World War III far more quickly than Vulcan did from its equivalent (in "The Forge" and its sequel episodes, it is said that Vulcans took almost a thousand years to fully rebuild their society after their last catastrophic war), it alarmed many Vulcans, who were confused as to how to deal with a rapidly growing and emotional society such as Earth's.
After the overthrow of the corrupt Vulcan High Command and the death of Admiral Maxwell Forrest, who sacrificed his life to save Soval from a terrorist attack, the attitudes of Soval, and Vulcan society in general, became more cordial and accepting towards humanity.
Star Trek (2009) alternative timeline
In the alternative timeline of the 2009 film, the planet Vulcan is destroyed in 2258 by the mad Romulan known as Nero (Eric Bana), who had time traveled from the future. Using his space mining vessel, the Narada, Nero created a singularity in Vulcan's planetary core as part of his quest to avenge the destruction of Romulus. The resulting implosion destroyed Vulcan, killing most of its six billion inhabitants. Only around 10,000 managed to escape, including Spock and some of the Elders. However, the film's writers have stated that this does not include Vulcans who were living off planet at the time. At the end of the film, Spock Prime tells the younger Spock a suitable planet has been located to establish a colony for the surviving Vulcans; this world is subsequently referred to (in the sequel Star Trek Into Darkness) as "New Vulcan". New Vulcan remains the capital of the Vulcan state (including all of Vulcan's offworld colonies), now known as the Confederacy of Surak.
Leonard Nimoy discussed the origin of the Vulcan salute in his autobiography I Am Spock. As a bit of stage "business" in the episode "Amok Time", he invented the famous "Live long and prosper" Vulcan salute based on the hand symbol used by Jewish priests (kohanim) during the Priestly Blessing in the synagogue. The gesture actually emulates the initial Shin of the Shema (Nimoy has also commented that the "sh" could also indicate Shaddai, or the Almighty; more recently, on William Shatner's Raw Nerve, he associated it with Shekhinah.) On numerous occasions, for example in the 1983 TV special Star Trek Memories (which is often syndicated along with The Original Series), Nimoy recounts how as a child, he peeked during the blessing and witnessed the gesture, although the congregation are supposed to put hands over eyes or turn away at this moment in acknowledgement of the presence of the Almighty.
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