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Mr. Spock

March 11, 2015
BY CHUCK CLEGG - Columnist , Wetzel Chronicle

A short time ago, the man we came to know as Mr. Spock passed away. His name was Leonard Nemoy and at the time of his death he was 83 years old. Nemoy portrayed one of the main members of the original Star Trek television program that ran from 1966 to 1969.

The TV series seemed at the time to be a passing science fiction program that lasted only three years on the air. After the program's cancelation, its many avid fans that came to be known as Trekkies helped to bring the franchise back in movies and spin off television series. Mr. Spock's character was a big part of the reason the fans loved the program. He also was the only member of the cast to appear in all episodes of the series.

The program was created by Gene Roddenberry and gave its viewers insight into future technology and the possibility of different races working together to explore the worlds beyond the stars. Since the broadcast of the original series some of his insights have come to pass that were part of the sci-fi technology used in the show.

The Star Trek franchise and Mr. Spock gave us something that still resonates when we look toward the stars-the possibility of life out there. The worlds and life forms the Enterprise crew found were only in Roddenberry's imagination. In each episode other world creatures and humanoids managed to challenge the enterprise's crew. No matter how strange and different the life form, Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock found answers to save their ship and the universe.

The program was pure science-fiction at the time, yet it showed us the possibly of the future-a future we now find ourselves looking toward. In 1960, the Green Bank Observatory in eastern West Virginia began looking toward the stars for answers to the question, "Is there anyone out there?" The huge 85-foot radio telescope was pointed toward the stars and began listening for a distance signal. That was six years before Star Trek introduced us to endless universes of creatures. At the same time, we were asking if out in the darkness of space, does other life really exist?

In 1977, NASA sent Voyager 1 looking for answers. In a sense, we pointed it toward the vast unknown of space hoping it would give us answers to what may be out there. Since its launch the probe has been traveling though what is known as heliosphere space. That is a region of outer space that is influenced by our sun. In August 2012, NASA announced that Voyager 1 has crossed over into a distant region called, interspace. It has traveled to a distance region of space where not only is there dust and elements of our sun and solar system, but other suns and solar systems. The spacecraft has traveled a distance of about 130.62 AU (1.954x10 10th km) from earth as of Dec. 6, 2014. If you are not sure how far that is in miles, neither do I, but I know it is a long way from our world. It is traveling at 38,000 mph towards-well the truth is I don't think anyone really knows. Those scientists who designed Voyager placed a gold record on the spacecraft in hopes whoever finds it will understand we are alive and well on the third planet from our sun. The message is to indicate we are friendly and inviting. I hope those who find it are likewise.

It is believed that Voyager 1 will have power for at least another 10 years. Its mission in deep space may have it sending information home that gives scientists more questions than answers. So far its mission has taken it past planets in our solar system. It has sent home detailed pictures and information for science to analyze and study for many years to come. But, after 38 years of travels in emptiness of space, it still looks for answers. One of those questions may be, "Are we alone out there?" Won't we be shocked if its cameras send back a picture of something looking into the lens?

In 1974, we sent a signal known as the Arecibo message toward a distant star cluster. The cluster of stars is 25,000 light years from earth. At that distance none of you reading this will likely be around to receive any answers. Yet, we know the binary message of 1s and Os will someday reach its destination. Will anyone be there to receive it? We know places like Green Bank listen for messages from out there. It is likely if there is intelligent life out there, they will be listening too. Steven Hawkins, one the leading scientists of our day, wondered if we should really be sending messages into space without knowing who may be the recipient of that message.

Our present science and technology limits our physical reach beyond our world. Yet, we can dream and wonder if a world like Mr. Spock came from could really exist. When we turn our face toward the sky we felt the warm sun. We can wonder if far, far away is there someone looking at a distant star in their night sky. I believe Gene Roddenberry and his vision gave us the possibility that it may be possible.

Leonard Nemoy tried to expand himself from the character of Mr. Spock to play other rolls. I believe he came to understand that Star Trek planted the seeds that out there may be answers for the future of mankind and species similar to Mr. Spock.

In 2025 there is a proposed mission to Mars. The process of screening those that will go on this mission is underway today. One thing you should know, it is a one way trip. Those who go will spend the rest of their lives working to build a future beyond earth-something to think about before you volunteer for such a mission. But, those among us who look to the stars to find the future of man understand it will not be easy. They realize someone must take those first steps toward exploring beyond our solar system.

Over 55 years ago a teacher named, Mr. Shreves sparked my interest in science. He taught me the stars in the night sky are really suns in distant solar systems. He explained, like with our sun, planets may be orbiting those distant spots of light. If just one of those stars is a distant sun. And orbiting around that sun it is a warm green planet with blue oceans, maybe, just maybe on that far planet a man with pointed ears is holding his hand up towards that sun. I believe he may be saying to all of us "Live long and prosper, as you look towards the stars Thru the Lens."



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