Leonard Nimoy, 83: Techies, Trekkies Mourn - InformationWeek

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2/27/2015
03:29 PM
David Wagner
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Leonard Nimoy, 83: Techies, Trekkies Mourn

Leonard Nimoy inspired several generations of IT pros, engineers, and scientists with his iconic Mr. Spock character on Star Trek.

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Steve Jobs: 5 Things We Miss Most
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As Mr. Spock would say, it would be illogical for IT Life not to cover the passing of the great Leonard Nimoy, 83. The man inspired several generations of IT professionals, engineers, dreamers, astronauts, artists, and peacemakers. For a man who played a character of pure logic, he sure spawned a lot of emotion in us.

It is so difficult to separate Leonard Nimoy from Spock that even when he tried with his own autobiographies, he titled one I am Not Spock and the second one I am Spock. Nimoy was, by all accounts, highly passionate, a writer of poetry, a photographer, and very spiritual. Nimoy is quoted as saying, "I'm touched by the idea that when we do things that are useful and helpful -- collecting these shards of spirituality -- that we may be helping to bring about a healing."

That doesn't sound very Spock-like, and yet in many ways it is. Remember that Vulcans have deep wells of emotion that they have learned to control. And Spock, being half human, was always the one to slip in a little humanity within all the logic. The great moments of Spock's character always appeared when logic took a back seat for a moment. We were just as ready to believe in Spock as an analyzer of probability as we were to accept him as a being who communicated with whales. Perhaps Spock's greatest line was one of his last, "Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end."

Nimoy imbued Spock with such heart that, rather than becoming a source of mechanical or robotic boredom, he became the emotional center of the story. While Capt. Kirk pontificated and puffed across the screen, Spock showed us the moral center, the reason it all mattered. With a few logical turns of phrase, Spock pushed Kirk to places he never wanted to go, to think in ways he never wanted to think, to act on his better nature.

Kirk made us all want to be astronauts. Spock made us all want to be explorers.

It wasn’t just Star Trek. Nimoy kept pushing the boundaries with In Search of ..., a TV series you have to be a certain age to remember. In Search of ... explored the paranormal and alternative theories to history. It seems odd, in retrospect, that someone who devoted his time to a character dedicated to science would spend so much time talking about Big Foot and UFOs. But, to Nimoy, it must have been about the same thing -- exploring the unknown. In Search of ... spawned a generation of conspiracy theorists, but it also spawned people like you and me, people who wanted to know things, ask questions, and seek alternative answers.

Take this clip as an example. This is an episode about how asteroids will destroy the earth, but the Star Trek spirit was alive and well in the clip as seen through the eyes of scientists and astronauts:

And let's not forget the artist Leonard Nimoy. Let's just call that career hit or miss. There were wonderful hits that I can't show here like these Nimoy's beautiful nudes that were part of his long photography career.

And there were misses like his musical career:

But hey, let's give Nimoy credit for writing the second-best Tolkien-inspired song. No one beats Led Zeppelin's "Ramble On" anyway.

Taken together it was a long and wonderful life. One can't escape saying that he lived long and prospered. And we prospered because he was here. One only needs to look at the flip-phone and the Star Trek communicator to see how Star Trek inspired a generation of engineers. There are countless more examples.

(Image: Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia)

(Image: Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia)

We may have lost him, but he leaves behind a legacy of great shows and a greater impact on us. We will miss him, but he'll never really be gone. He is immortalized in film in giant databases inspired by those he accessed from his seat in the Enterprise. Thankfully, we already have gotten a chance to eulogize him once as he died on screen. Kirk says it of Spock, but I’m pretty sure Shatner and all of us would say it about Nimoy: "Of all the souls I've encountered in my travels, his was the most human."

David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio
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StaceyE
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StaceyE,
User Rank: Ninja
3/24/2015 | 1:26:47 PM
Re: sad
He did have a very interesting life. Sad that sometimes we don't learn things about people until they are no longer with us.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
3/2/2015 | 3:43:20 PM
Re: Leonard Nimoy, 83: Techies, Trekkies Mourn
@zerox203- I hadn't thought of that, but you're right. The Star Trek wikis really add a sense of reality to all of it. My favorite thing about Star Trek is how many people are inspired to literally create the world they've seen. I bet we could get a few million people willing ot make San Francisco the seat of galatic government. :)
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
3/2/2015 | 3:05:05 PM
Re: Godspeed, Leonard Nimoy
@JIMPRO- I can't think of one. But it looks like some of the Star Wars characters might be the next to challenge it. We'll see how many sequels include Luke, Leia, and Han. Though there is a rumor they all die in Episode VII, I can't imagine that they could kill them all without people burning down the theaters.
JIMPRO
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JIMPRO,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/2/2015 | 3:00:56 PM
Godspeed, Leonard Nimoy

I, too, found fascinating the original series and received much inspiration from it and still do. Kudos to Gene Roddenberry for creating characters we could all aspire to while instilling an optimism I hope we never lose. Amazing is the longevity of Leonard Nimoy's character, Mr. Spock. With the original series being filmed in December, 1964 (!) and "Star Trek: Into Darkness" coming out in 2013, can any other screen actor say they have played the same character for 49 years?!!! Wow!

Godspeed, Leonard Nimoy. Say hello to "Scotty" and "Bones" for us!

David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
3/2/2015 | 3:00:24 PM
Re: RIP Spock
@TerryB- I have to say the geek in me just swells with joy every time I see Data do the Vulcan neck pinch in the Next Generation crossover and Spock says, "Not bad."

People often comment about how TV was "better" back before cable. I don't know if it is better or worse, but one of the advantages o having only three channels was that the competition to get on the air was higher. You couldn't just get turned down by the networks and then sell your crummy idea to cable. It had to be among the best 70-100 shows on TV.

What is astounding then is how many crappy shows they still made. :)
TerryB
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TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
3/2/2015 | 1:26:15 PM
RIP Spock
Hits close to home just how much time has passed. Still remember watching that as a kid when it was all new shows on TV. Star Trek, The Wild Wild West and Man from UNCLE were the highlights of my pre cable childhood when it came to TV.

Still wish I could have learned that Vulcan nerve pinch. How many meetings have I been in that would have come in handy.

Mr Nimoy is a great example of living your life to the fullest. I'm sure he had few regrets at the end.
glenbren
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glenbren,
User Rank: Ninja
3/1/2015 | 1:02:28 PM
Re: sad
I probably watched most of the old Star Trek shows because my husband was a huge fan. He still watches reruns almost every day. I wouldn't have watched them on my own, but did enjoy them, and Spock was my favorite character.

I just thought the dress was ugly, no matter if it was blue or gold.
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Author
3/1/2015 | 12:08:56 PM
Re: sad
@David the system won't let copy the whole thing. I've tried numerous times. One of the popular tweets yesterday combined the two by postin a pic from TOS with the Captian in his gold shirt and Spock in his blue and this: from @garywhitta The only blue and gold that matter today.
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2015 | 11:35:30 PM
Re: Leonard Nimoy, 83: Techies, Trekkies Mourn
Few actors can claim a legacy as great as Mr. Nimoy's. If the huge outpouring all across the world over just one day is not evidence enough of that, then some of the unique and unparalleled aspects of that legacy that you've highlighted here certainly are. The bit about being immortalized in a database he helped inspire really drove it home for me. It's not a stretch to say he had a hand in inspiring more technology than any single actor in history. A fun aside that occured to me is that your statement is literally true, because Memory Alpha, the Star Trek Wiki, is designed to be read like a federation database (not sure if you were intentionally referring to this), and of course Mr. Nimoy is in it. There's a unique honor that few actors can claim.

By many of his and the other actors' own accounts, they could never have predicted just how profound an effect Star Trek would have on the collective consciousness and inspiring future generations of scientists. In light of that, the fact that his character (an emotion-averse loner responsible for spewing the most tech jargon) in particular was the one everyone gravitated to is a testament to just how great an actor he was and how much passion he put into what could have been a humdrum role. I learned recently that he taught method acting before being cast on Star Trek. It must have been quite a challenging task playing Mr. Spock that way, and it explains a lot about the depth of his character. We're wont to say 'he will be missed' at any famous person's passing, but for me, in this case, it's particularly true.
Broadway0474
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50%
Broadway0474,
User Rank: Ninja
2/28/2015 | 10:38:45 PM
Re: sad
I saw blue and black, and whey and gold. Don't know what that says about me. Easy to please I suppose.
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