Pope poll » « Witless wanker peddles pablum for CFI Spock was not a chordate The idea that he could have been half-human/half-alien is even more ridiculous than the idea that he could have been half-human/half-mollusc. Although…the concept is intriguing. Share this:PrintEmailShare on TumblrTweet Pope poll » « Witless wanker peddles pablum for CFI
Glen Davidson says
Yes, but if an Intelligent Designer made both humans and aliens, it could all work out.
You want an “explanation” for fiction, then just turn to a fictional origination concept.
I want to say that in the Star Trek mythos, or whatever, the idea is that humans, romulans, and vulcans are all descended from a common ancient civilization that populated different planets. So they’re really more like different races (not species) on different planets, and that’s why they can breed together. I know I’ve heard that, I’m not sure how accurate it is, but that at least would make sense-ish.
Ashley is exactly correct. In ST:TNG, they found archeological evidence and a hologram that the races of the universe were seeded by a race that knew that it was not going to last forever but wanted them all to know about their existence and that they had common ancestry to bind them together. Also, some races could only interbreed with genetic help.
Sven DiMilo says
Live long and protostome.
Sven DiMilo says
Then the Star trek mythos/canon rejects the evolution of humans from local Terran beasts?
That’s most unfortunate.
aratina cage says
Deanna Troi with all her emotions was like the anti-Spock in TNG (and one of my favorite ST characters), but she had the same wooish kind of hybrid biology as Spock did and even a similar kind of wooish ability, empathic awareness (comparable to mind-melding). I don’t recall if Betazoids were one of the seeded races.
Actually Sven, not *precisely*. Star Trek used a lot of muddy non-evolution gibberish in it, including “de-evolution”, which strongly implied they writers had no damn clue what they where talking about. In this specific case, its called “front loading”. They didn’t “seed” their own species into the genome, they seeded a coded program into the genome of the entire planets, so that it would persist, and given sufficient time, and the right conditions, would produce life forms with intelligence and a more or less humanoid form. I.e., they front loaded the process.
Disturbingly Openminded says
Ah, Counselor Troi…
Back in the day, my wife came home with a new dress that was tight-fitting and dark blue with black on the tops of the shoulders. “What do you think?” she says. “Counselor Troi!” I says. But she wasn’t a TNG fan and didn’t believe me when I explained it to her.
She wears it to work a few days later. Practically every man she met that day, and a few women, greeted her with “Counselor Troi!” That dress didn’t get worn much after that.
Kirk and Spock are talking to an Alien seeder. Kirk says something like: “We believe that life on our planet began naturally.”
Whereas Spock says something: “However that would explain some aspects of life on Vulcan.”
So, imagine my surprise to discover that Romulus was initially settled from Vulcan.
My Google-fu is weak-I’m not as much as a Trekkie as I pretend. I tried to find that episode, but all my search did was spit out a 14 year old Neil DeGrasse Tyson essay.
I’m not sure that’s canonical. It is very well-established that Vulcans and Romulans are the same species – the Romulans being descended, IIRC, from those who left Vulcan because they rejected the teachings of Surak, hence the two cultures’ very different values and ways of life. But I’ve never heard anything about humans being descended from the same genetic root as Vulcans and Romulans. (I can’t be bothered to look it up on Memory Alpha right now.) Though IIRC there was supposed to be an ancient and highly advanced civilisation called the “Preservers” who long ago went around seeding life on various planets, so I suppose it might be a canon-consistent explanation.
It’s not like they’re the only extremely-human-looking species in Star Trek: the Bajorans look basically human apart from the ridged noses, and are a very thinly-veiled analogue of various oppressed and conflict-ridden human civilisations. And the Trill look completely human apart from the spots around the neck. My inner Star-Trek-obsessed kid wants to believe that all of them are ultimately descended from the same ancestors seeded on many different worlds, and hence it’s scientifically plausible; my (semi-)adult cynical self observes that it was most likely aimed at saving money on costumes.
aratina cage says
Yes, and my thinking of her may have been triggered by the similarity of the word “chordate” to the word “chocolate”.
In Star Trek canon an ancient starfaring race known as the Preservers seeded planets throughout the galaxy with the building bocks of life.
This was added as an explanation for why the majority of the races seen were humanoid.
#7 is closest to my understanding of Trek biology. The long-extinct proto-alien Elder Race is, not too surprisingly (in terms of symbolism, not science), a totally hairless, nigh-fetal humanoid.
So yeah, in Trekiverse, evolution is at least somewhat “directed”. Among the various Trek humanoids are pseudo-“reptilian” species.
It’s something for which you gotta give science fiction a break. There just aren’t too many non-eukaryotes looking for work in Hollywood. (Sound in space, on the other hand, is beyond forgivability).
Star Trek isn’t as much my thing as the even-more-preposterous Doctor Who, whose protagonist doesn’t even have a rubber forehead to showcase his alienness. One episode of Nu Who features Vinvocci, green humanoids with spiky heads, and has the following exchange after a Vinvocci rescues to heroes:
Wilf: God bless the Cactuses!
Doctor: That’s Cacti.
Male Vinvocci: That’s racist.
Come on! Are you really discussing about the scientific basis of Star Trek? Are you really questioning if it is scientifically valid? Please, give me a break! It is like to pretend that the Bible reliably explains the appearance of humans on Earth… oh… just a moment… oh well… forget it…
Creationist in space: If Romulans came from Vulcans then how come there are still Vulcans?!
pfff, I read The Physics of Star Trek when I was in high school. Do not question our ability to blend nerdom with geekitude.
Well, Star Trek and the Bible both tend to contradict themselves from time to time, both mix reality and fiction indiscriminately, and are equally misleading when it comes to science. The difference is that Star Trek is a much better guide to moral values. :-)
IIRC, in one of the books (can’t remember which maybe the first contact with the Klingons) there was mention that Human-Vulcan hybrids did indeed need ‘help’ in the genetics department.
It came up when Spock was met by the Klingon who was taking a Federation scholar to Klin’zai. The Klingon wondered whether Spock knew he was the result of an experiment.
Now I need to find the d@m thing.
The Bible definitely reads like ancient science fiction. Occasionally, people like Muhammad or Joseph Smith have attempted to reboot the series.
It was on screen, it is canon.
“The Chase” is the 20th episode in season 6:
David Marjanović says
So true. So true… :-) :-) :-)
:-D :-D :-D
To think of Star Trek as anything other than metaphorical is … most illogical.
Weren’t the Klingons temporarily given some human DNA to fend off some plague in Enterprise, which is why the Klingons in TOS look very different from those in ST: TNG?
As soon as I understood science enough to know better, this became one of my biggest pet peeves with sci fi aliens. We can’t even interbreed with bonobos or chimps, let alone life from another planet. And why does life from other planets always have DNA? Is that really the only molecule that can carry genetic material? I can forgive movies/shows for having bipedal aliens because of budget constraints for the costume department. But nearly identical biochemistry? Why even bother calling it sci fi at that point? Why not just call it fantasy?
Even as a child I had issue with the vulcan/human hybrid. The entire series repeatedly stated that a vulcans blood was based on copper? -I think- and that ours was iron based. I can accept human/klingon and a few others, but when a fundamental biological difference exists like one species has green blood and one red…
My kids did a months-long “course” of Star Trek Next Generation, with great ethical and scientific discussions. The most important thing to remember is that whenever inertial dampers go offline, everyone dies instantly. Not just fall out of their chairs, smeared on the bulkhead quality death. It was astonishing how much science one can actually learn from the problems of sci-fi television. Plus it’s important to learn how hot alien women are supposed to dress.
Birger Johansson says
“Even as a child I had issue with the vulcan/human hybrid.” Amen.
….Although, being all logical, the Vulcans might have done away with the messier aspects of reproduction once they learned genetic engineering, and started to artificially combine the genes for their offspring, thus ensuring no deleterious genes entered the mix.
From there, it would be a minor step to include genes from another species, provided they all used DNA for genes, and had the same left-right chirality.
Birger Johansson says
# 18 “Well, Star Trek and the Bible both tend to contradict themselves from time to time, both mix reality and fiction indiscriminately, and are equally misleading when it comes to science. The difference is that Star Trek is a much better guide to moral values. :-) ”
…as seen on South Park. But I don’t remember which of the kids who quoted “Star Trek: Wrath of Khan” when he thought he was quoting the bible.
have you checked out the rest of her Flickr Page? It’s hilarious, and heavy on cephalopods…
Discussion of Star Trek and the Bible reminds me of an old post on the Atheist Experience blog I recently read that suggested the “Star Trek Rule”…
Works for Captain Picard as well.
eg.: Captain Picard says “The fool has said in his heart there is no Q.”
I grok Spock.
Do you grok me?
Rules of Life
“More and more, when faced with the world of men, the only reaction is one of individualism. Man alone is an end unto himself. Everything one tries to do for the common good ends in failure.” Albert Camus
“The secret of happiness is not having more, but wanting less.”
“The purpose of life is just going about your business. And getting there is just putting one foot in front of the other.
“It’s not what happens to you in life that matters, it’s your attitude towards it.”
There are three attitudes that have crept into our collective consciousness over the past two decades. I don’t know how widespread they are, but there are certainly some people who believe one or more of them. They are:
That you are somehow not responsible for your own actions.
The attempt to place the blame on others for our own actions has become epidemic. Everywhere you go, people seem to be pointing the finger at others for their own failures. Many people, it seems, just refuse to take responsibility for what they do, or what they cause to happen. Well, the sad fact is that you, and only you are responsible for what you do.
That the world owes you a living.
People seem to grow up thinking that they have some kind of inborn right to a good job, and a nice home and a good life. I’m sorry to be the one to break the bad news, but the world owes you absolutely nothing. Everything you achieve, you must either inherit from someone who has earned it, or earn it on your own. Society has no obligation to provide you with a place to live, or food to eat, or a nice car.
That the world has to change to accomodate you.
Some people feel that because they “need” something, that society should automatically provide it. Many people grow up thinking that they should not have to make any sacrifices at all because of their shortcomings. People should adjust their lives and lifestyles to their abilities, and not expect society to make up for their own deficiencies.
Hi, Charlie Wagner. Don’t you have something better to do than troll with off-topic posts on blogs where you’ve been told you’re not welcome?
Vulcans are supposed to be closely enough related to us to successfully interbreed.
They are also supposed to bleed green.
Either of these is possible, if somewhat implausible, but not in combination. Different blood chemistry is pretty fundamental, suggesting a more distant relationship than between humans and fish. Interbreeding would require being at least as close as humans and chimps. You can bs your way to one or the other, but definitely not both.
I guess this is how atheists satisfy their genetic need for religion.
When I was visiting my parents this past Christmas, we all went out to see Avatar. After the movie, my mother asked me what I thought the Na’vi (aliens) were and posited that they were some type of feline and were almost certainly mammals. It took me at least half an hour to explain to her how Planaria, Paramecia, and Proteobacteria are all more closely related to humans than we would be to the Na’vi. She’s reasonably smart, so I guess it’s a common misconception.
We don’t have any.
On an unrelated note, and yet still on topic — is that marzipan? I love love love marzipan.
Birger Johansson @ #29
Or like Frasier, reading Klingon instead of the Torah… to honor his son.
Actually I like more the Klingon blessing.
Fascinating, captain. . .
John Morales says
Call me hardcore, but I classify Star Trek as science-fantasy, not science-fiction.
You like squids? VOTE FOR THIS T-SHIRT DESIGN!!!
The artist is a fearless pharyngula fan and needs the money.
Actually that would not be necessary.
If both species used proteins as primary catalysts, but had a different genetic molecule and a different genetic code, it would still be possible to read the genetic code of the two individuals, synthesize the species-appropriate gene sequence, and splice it in. This would require substantial overlap in the actual amino acids that the two species use. It would of course be necessary for the two parents to decide which species will be the physical template for their child – ie human with human DNA but half of it synthesized sequences containing the necessary information for Vulcan proteins, or vice versa.
Now, given a somewhat higher level of advancement, even this is not necessary. If both species use organic polymers as primary catalysts, and those polymers work by shape (which is reasonable to suppose to be pretty common to most life), then given enough understanding of biology, you can translate the genetic material of one parent into the genetic substrate of the other to produce the end product of the right shape, even if the building blocks are completely different. In other words, you could take the human parent gene sequence, infer its protein product(s), and determine the shape of the resultant proteins, and then determine what sequence of building blocks would make that shape for the other partner’s biology, and create the appropriate genetic molecule and sequence for that species. Or vice versa.
In addition convergent evolutionary principles should indicate that at least some of the shapes of important biological molecules are going to be very similar, even if the building blocks that make them up might be different, and the genetic code that specifies them might be different, and the very genetic molecule might be different. But the shape of the end product, which determines function, is going to be constrained by environmental factors into a subset of shapes that work.
One might even be able to swap the molecules from one species to another, and have them work, because the shapes are going to be similar, and the shape determines the function, even if the molecules themselves are made of completely different building blocks.
There is a possible work-around for the Vulcan green blood thing.
The point being here is that it is the blood that is green, not the particularly oxygen carrying molecule.
Thus the Vulcans do in fact use hemoglobin to ferry oxygen to their tissues, but in addition to the hemoglobin, their red blood cell equivalents have an additional cell surface protein that has copper in it and is green. The green, being in the cell membrane, masks the red hemoglobin, which of course is inside the cell.
Or, the Vulcans have red blood cells much like humans. BUT they also have an additional blood cell that is NOT involved in oxygen transport, perhaps an immune cell, that is green (perhaps they contain organelles filled with a copper-based green-colored toxin used to kill phagocytosed bacteria?), and this second cell type predominates in terms of coloring their blood.
Or, their blood cells include a variety of pigment cells, or contain a variety of pigmented organelles, which may or may not have anything to do with hemoglobin/iron based oxygen transport, but the final combination of which produces a shade of green.
Or, their version of albumin, or whatever the predominant blood plasma protein is, happens to be green, as opposed to colorless as it is in humans, and the green color is a neutral accidental feature of the protein without major functional implications.
In short, there any number of possibilies by which Vulcans could have green blood and yet still be not very different from humans on a fundamental biochemical level.
Oh, and another possibility: the absorption spectra of heme-based protein pigments can actually be very easily changed by minor tweaks in protein sequence. In fact, chlorophyll has a heme group (with a magnesium instead of iron). Is it possible for an iron-heme to be tweaked until it is actually green in color, as well? If so, then Vulcan hemoglobin could be iron based, closely related to human hemoglobin, AND green in color too.
And Pablo Picasso was not an asshole!
However, horseshoe crabs **do** exist on earth, and unlike most species, their blood isn’t green, but “blue”, due to the use of hemocyanin to carry oxygen in their blood. Hemocyanin, unlike hemoglobin, is **copper based**. So, its not implausible that such a species could exist, and I would have to assume that, with enough tinkering, you could even replace hemoglobin in human blood with hemocyanin, assuming you could overcome secondary issues that might result from simply ripping out the one gene and inserting the other instead.
All this talk of ST-universe blood brings to mind the scene from that one Trek movie where someone shoots suited-up Klingons upon transporter re-materialization in zero-G and their blood erupts like globules of weightless Pepto-Bismol.
But Spock’s lips were pink, weren’t they?
Man, I love me some geeks. I haven’t been a big Star Trek fan since I was about 19, but reading this discussion is more fun than, well, actually watching Star Trek.
@F, that’s right. And then in every episode of every iteration of the show after that, Klingon blood was red. That always drove me nuts. Didn’t one single person who worked on Next Generation, DS9, Voyager, or whatever else even watch the movies? You’d think someone could have said, “Hey, there was this really iconic scene in Star Trek (V? VI?) where Klingon blood was very pink, so maybe we should use fake pink blood for the scene where these Klingons are bleeding instead of fake red blood.”
Dear Non-Existent Creator, the sheer geekitude of this thread burns! You’re all sick people, you know. Get out and play football or something!
Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go grab my scarf and sonic screwdriver so I can watch some Who. You damn Trekkies just keep masturbating about the second most popular sci-fi show ever while I go watch something with real artistic value!
Can’t we all just get along? I loved the fanfic where Jack Harkness meets Kirk and Spock while they were looking for McCoy in 1930s New York?
What drove me nuts, is that the creators changed both the way the Trill and the Bajorans looked between TNG and DS9. The Trill went from having funny heads to spots, and the Bajorans from having ugly noses to…slightly different ugly noses.
Also, weren’t the Klingons in TOS normal looking, like men, but with big mos? I guess we shouldn’t be surprised when the colour of their blood changes…
Actually what happens is that Kirk goes back in time and meddles with the DNA of most alien worlds so that they eventually produce a species he would like to shag.
SACRILEGE!!! Who is the boob responsible for this monumental desecration of Star Trek technical accuracy? Any true ST fanatic knows that you will only see a command insignia on a gold (or green – captains only) shirt. Blue shirts are reserved for science insignias. The one exception to this rule was in the TOS episode “Mirror, Mirror” – Sulu wearing a red shirt with a command insignia – and they didn’t even kill the bastard! :)
One of my favorite stories about the bible and Star Trek is about the folks who started to translate the bible into the Klingon. The project immediately fell into a schism between the literal translation folks who think that “bread” should be translated as “grain food” – and poetic types, who would argue for “Rokeg blood pie”. (Boldly going; [CITY EDITION] HUGH LINEHAN. Irish Times. Dublin: Aug 24, 1996. pg. Supplem).
Critics say a literal translation will make little sense, since Klingon vocabulary is void of biblical concepts like mercy and compassion.
Translating the Bible Into Suitable Klingon Stirs Cosmic Debate — Some Favor a Literal Tack, Others Find That Alien; Help From the Lutherans
By Carrie Dolan. Wall Street Journal. (Eastern edition). New York, N.Y.: Jun 13, 1994. pg. A.1
Good catch! I didn’t even notice that. It should have been this insignia.
I know I must be a Trekkie when the first thing I thought when I looked at the picture was, “Huh, that’s a science-blue shirt, but a command track insignia.”
Also, this is just awesome.
I know, I’m late to the thread again…
The number of human/alien hybrids in ST has always bugged me. Kirk’s proclivities aside, why would any self-respecting alien, however humanoid in appearance, want to breed with a human? Don’t they have a rather different standard of beauty? Not to mention an entirely different set of pheromones… What would inspire a Klingon (Worf) to marry a human woman?
As an aside, here’s a bit of humor:
Star Trek meets Monty Python
I am the boob responsible… and I am deeply ashamed. How could I have forgotten the proper science insignia? I am not worthy of the title of Trekkie!
Before I do my penance of a ST:TOS marathon, I would like to thank everyone for the appreciation! It brings me no end of joy to have one of my sculptures inspire a discussion of Star Trek canon. (And @Walton specifically, your comparison of Star Trek with the Bible made me laugh with such glee I frightened my cat!)
In Star Trek: Enterprise, the last few episodes established that Vulcans and Humans cannot inter-breed without advanced medical assistance.
Damn, can’t believe I missed that it was the wrong insignia either, I shall hand in my tricorder in shame.
Incidentally- Lolcats? Star Trek? LOLTREK!
Marian (madame) Librarian @ 50
Exactly. But I felt they should have gone with a different blood color in the first place, for whatever weird aesthetic reason I may have. Either way, someone slap the continuity folks upside the head.
Poggy @ 53
Yes, and in the long hiatus between ST series, the paperback and gaming crowd had answers for this even before the new look of Klingons, Romulans, and whatnot had ever been conceived. (Klingon-Human, and Klingon-Romulan “fusion”.)
Speaking of this, I still want to know why the name of the Klingon homeworld was changed from Klinzhai (never official, I suppose) to Qo’noS (which always seems to be pronounced suspiciously like Chronos; cf Romulans – Romlnzz and whatever else they did to explain or bury the strange naming conventions).
(For entertainment purposes only.)
Worst of all, I’m hardly the biggest Trek fan in the shed. Why do I know these things?!