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What is a Vulcan?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
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  • Last Modified Date: 31 August 2016
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A Vulcan is member of one of the best-known fictional races in the Star Trek Universe. Though quite human in appearance, the Vulcan can be distinguished from humans by their pointy ears, and arched eyebrows. Early Star Trek episodes also established the peculiarity of Vulcan blood. It has a high level of copper, and is green.

A Vulcan is also much longer-lived than a human. They are also about three times as strong as humans, and live to about 300 years of age. Any Vulcan under the age of 100 is still considered relatively young and impressionable. Other Vulcan attributes that differ from humans include: a strong sense of smell, ability to become intoxicated by chocolate, higher degree of resistance to heat, and a third eyelid.

In behavior, the Vulcan is very distinct from humans. They regard emotion as irrational and attempt to live their lives governed by logic and reason. This is a purposeful attempt; Vulcans can be capable of emotions. They are directly related to the Romulans, who are very emotional and often govern through emotional response rather than through reason.

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In general, a Vulcan can be said, however, to be peace seeking, prone to logically parsing out ideas, and a member of one of the most respected races in the Federation of Planets. In the series, the Vulcan race was one of the primary races to begin the Federation, and they made first contact with citizens of Earth when humans were considered “ready” for inclusion in the Federation.

Most people’s first association with a Vulcan, is Mr. Spock, Captain Kirk’s right hand man in the original Star Trek series. Spock, it should be noted, has a human mother, so he struggles with human emotions. In particular, his friendship and brotherly love for Captain Kirk is outside the realm of normal Vulcan behavior.

In an episode entitled “The Vulcan Death Grip,” Spock pinches a nerve in Jim’s shoulder, which causes Jim to appear as dead. Nimoy had begged the show’s creator to give him a way to avoid getting in physical fights, simply because he didn’t want to have to do the stunts. Thus evolved the Vulcan Death Grip, actually a misnomer. What really occurs is a bout of unconsciousness from this precise movement, giving a Vulcan time to get away and avoid fighting. Avid fans of Star Trek tend to always cheer an example of the Vulcan Death Grip.

Another Vulcan skill, of which much is written, is the ability for Vulcans to perform a "mind meld" with other people. This is actually a very intimate moment, since those who mind meld with a Vulcan have access to the Vulcan’s thoughts. It forever connects the two people who have performed a mindmeld. Famous mindmelds include those between Captain Kirk and Spock, and Captain Jean Luc Picard and Spock’s father, Ambassador Sarek.

One last comment needs to be made on the Vulcan hand signal, a typical greeting and farewell. The hand faces upward with the index and middle finger separated from the pinky and ring finger, forming a V in the space between the fingers. The greeting may be said with the words “Live long and prosper,” or may be silent and merely imply the thoughts behind the gesture.

Nimoy also contributed the hand gesture, which is based on the position of the hands in the Jewish Priestly Blessing. Though this hand position was generally secret, Nimoy sneaked a peek at it as a child and had soon mastered the position. Today, Trekkies would not consider themselves sufficiently attached to the Star Trek world without mastery of this gesture.

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