I was really sad to hear that Leonard Nimoy died today. He was one of my childhood heroes. I didn’t know if Vulcans were real, but I absolutely believed that traveling beyond the stars was in my future. I was 9 years old when Star Trek started, and it aired later than my 4th grade bed time permitted. However my parents knew I was a space nut, and so they let me stay up late to watch the adventures of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Ohura, Sulu and all the other characters who lived in that future place. I was inspired by the vision of a future so far beyond Rockport, Massachusetts. I was inspired all the way to major in science in college, and have never lost my passion for new discoveries about the universe around us.
I wasn’t the only one seeing my future in Star Trek. Martin Cooper, inventor of the cell phone, cited James T. Kirk’s communicator as his inspiration. Many contemporary scientific advances bear a startling resemblance to those magical ideas we saw on the Starship Enterprise. It was just a TV show, but it was also a story of thinking boldly and acting bravely. It challenged not only our notions of the boundaries of our world, but also our culture. The first interracial kiss on TV happened on Star Trek. (Cheesy scene, but it was a great risk to take at a time when many states still had anti-miscegenation laws on the books.)
Manned space flight has been on hiatus for decades, but the universe has opened before us as unmanned space exploration has continued to expand our understanding of the universe. We haven’t put a person there yet, but we did put a robot on Mars. Perhaps fittingly, @SarcasticRover joined the millions around the planet today eulogizing Mr. Spock.