In memory of Leonard Nimoy, most famous for playing the (straw) rationalist Spock, what are your top 3 ST:TOS episodes with him?

post by shminux · 2015-02-27T20:57:19.777Z · score: 10 (15 votes) · LW · GW · Legacy · 40 comments

Hopefully at least one or two would show a virtue of non-straw rationality.

Episode list

 

 

40 comments

Comments sorted by top scores.

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2015-02-27T21:49:55.090Z · score: 12 (12 votes) · LW · GW

In the Spock-heavy "City on the Edge of Forever" (the only episode I can name), Spock correctly convinces Kirk that there are trade-offs and you can't get everything you want. Also, I think Kirk makes Spock work harder by appealing to his emotions.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-09T21:11:20.905Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

shamelessly I once tried to steelman Spock in 'City', and the result was a fic 'Thinking like demented you' on ff.net (hides under the table)

comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-27T21:53:37.907Z · score: 5 (5 votes) · LW · GW

City On The Edge Of Forever: Spock uses primitive technology to construct a machine to access the information stored in his tricorder. Genius is genius regardless of surroundings...

The Empath: Spock has the flash of insight that his own resistance to the energy field is what is empowering it.

The Galileo Seven: When all hope is lost Spock chooses to bet all on a desperate act, he jettisons all the remaining fuel to signal the Enterprise, knowing having done so within seconds the shuttlecraft will spiral into the atmosphere and burn up

comment by advancedatheist · 2015-02-28T02:24:49.865Z · score: 2 (4 votes) · LW · GW

In Galileo Seven Spock also says something like, "I, for one, do not believe in angels," indicating his skepticism about an afterlife. Does that make Spock the first (implicitly) atheistic character on a network TV series?

comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-28T04:11:33.783Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Beats me. I'd guess Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Dr. Who or some other show snuck the concept in somewhere.

comment by advancedatheist · 2015-03-01T18:24:20.990Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

The Twilight Zone has more of a religious look-and-feel to it, with allusions to biblical stories and folk christian beliefs. One episode even features a christian martyrdom without once mentioning Jesus.

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2015-02-28T04:29:45.199Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

It's not TOS exactly, but I always liked his character arc in the movies. It was the only good part of 1 and 5.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-06T14:12:01.421Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

I don't consider him a rationalist character. He is always hung up about what is logical, as opposed to what is observably right.

Uhura: Mr. Spock, sometimes I think if I hear that word "frequency" again, I'll cry.

Spock: It is illogical for a communications officer to resent the word "frequency."

What kind of answer is that? "Too bad you dislike your job?" A rationalist answer would have been something along the lines of "Can you explain why, maybe we can find out what went wrong with your feelings and find a way to fix them or work them around?"

There is a difference between rationality and smartassery.

comment by gjm · 2015-03-06T15:32:48.360Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Hence "(straw)" in the title. See e.g. this summary of a talk by Julia Galef about the difference between being a Straw Vulcan (memetic hazard warning: TVTropes) and being an actual practitioner of rationality.

[EDITED to link to the LW article that has a transcript of the original talk an a link to the YouTube video.]

comment by Vaniver · 2015-03-06T17:24:23.615Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

What kind of answer is that?

One that, presumably, would make Uhura cry.

comment by torekp · 2015-02-28T15:37:45.411Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I, Mudd:

Logic is a little tweeting bird chirping in a meadow. Logic is a wreath of pretty flowers which smell BAD.

comment by advancedatheist · 2015-02-28T01:21:09.690Z · score: -13 (23 votes) · LW · GW

I hate to spoil the mood for nerd grieving and geek hermeneutics, but Star Trek made a certain kind of sense in the late 1960's (nearly 50 years ago!) when the U.S. and the Soviet Union had real space programs which tried to do new things, one after another. But because astronautics has regressed since then, despite all accelerationist propaganda you hear from transhumanists, this genre of mythological framework for thinking about "the future" makes less and less sense. Given the failure of the "space age," would people 50 years from now, in a permanently Earth-bound reality, bother to watch these ancient shows and obsess over the characters?

comment by IlyaShpitser · 2015-02-28T10:47:42.949Z · score: 16 (16 votes) · LW · GW

The original Star Trek is a Western, it's about people trying to do the right thing out on the lawless frontier. Why are people still watching Westerns?

comment by jmmcd · 2015-02-28T01:42:37.153Z · score: 7 (7 votes) · LW · GW

I think it's a bit of a leap to go from NASA being under-funded and unambitious in recent years to "people 50 years from now, in a permanently Earth-bound reality".

comment by advancedatheist · 2015-03-01T18:27:07.795Z · score: 0 (4 votes) · LW · GW

Some people, like Keith Henson, argue that we've blown the thermodynamic opportunity to get off planet because we've already squandered the best quality fossil fuels.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2015-03-01T18:56:20.301Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Some people, like Keith Henson, argue that we've blown the thermodynamic opportunity to get off planet because we've already squandered the best quality fossil fuels.

This seems very strange. First, most of our rockets use hydrogen and oxygen. One doesn't directly need to use fossil fuels. Second, there's still a massive amount of energy available in terms of fossil fuels, it just involves lower energy return on energy investment. Third of all, there are many other sources of energy, with nuclear power being one of the more obvious, but massive amounts of solar and wind also being available. Fourth of all, rockets are comparatively inefficient in general since one needs to move most of the fuel itself. Launch loops and space elevators are both obvious substitutes that are more energy efficient once they are off the ground. Do you know where Henson has made this argument and what his reasoning was in more detail?

comment by passive_fist · 2015-03-02T02:58:25.346Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with all your points except the fourth. Once outside the atmosphere and up to speed, rockets are actually pretty efficient. The space shuttle main engines achieved 15% propulsive efficiency if I remember correctly; this is better than many land vehicles.

I've studied launch loops and they have massive power requirements, on the order of magnitude of heating up the atmosphere significantly (up to a degree or so). Space elevators can be efficient, if the power delivery system is efficient, and so far all workable proposals (laser power beaming, conductive cables) seem extremely inefficient.

Rockets are in many ways the ideal space launch system, the major disadvantage being enormous unit cost.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2015-03-02T03:14:52.515Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Once outside the atmosphere and up to speed, rockets are actually pretty efficient. The space shuttle main engines achieved 15% propulsive efficiency if I remember correctly; this is better than many land vehicles

Yes, but getting out of the atmosphere is really inconvenient.

Do you have a citation or a back of the envelope for the statement about launch loops having such large power requirements? I don't think I've seen that before, and I'd be interested in seeing that.

comment by passive_fist · 2015-03-02T04:27:32.147Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

I don't remember exactly where I read that, but here's a page with some power calculations: http://launchloop.com/LaunchLoopHeating

100 billion tons/year may sound like a lot but you really do need to launch that much cargo in order to recuperate construction and operation costs. The 0.1 degree heating cited on that page is a bit optimistic since it doesn't take into account secondary effects.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2015-03-02T04:33:52.036Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

Ouch. Yeah, that's not reasonably viable.

comment by Douglas_Knight · 2015-03-06T19:21:06.263Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

What, exactly, is the claim?

Is the claim that launching a ton of payload by launch loop heats the earth more than launching a ton by rockets? That is very hard to believe. To a first approximation, the energy savings of the launch loop are heat savings.

Or is the claim that launching enough payload to make a launch loop worthwhile is too much heat, either way?

comment by JoshuaZ · 2015-03-06T19:48:53.929Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Good point. Hmm, now I'm confused.

comment by Gunnar_Zarncke · 2015-03-06T23:12:14.813Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think Keith Henson refers to the energy expenditure of rockets but to the total cheap energy evailable to global society. Currently we are more concered with optimizing the last out of the reamining sources and keeping society running at all. Granted there are still significant technological improvements but these are mostly small scale. Rockets have not improved at all.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2015-03-07T01:31:08.490Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

I don't think Keith Henson refers to the energy expenditure of rockets but to the total cheap energy evailable to global society.

My second and third point directly responded to that interpretation of the claim.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-02-28T04:20:26.189Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I agree with you that humans in their current form will forever be earth-bound. But it's not because of a lack of funding or initiative. It's because it would be absolute insanity to consider exporting humans off the planet. The example I like is, suppose elephants were sentient, and coexisted on the planet with humans. Equal intelligence. Would it make sense to develop rockets to lift elephants into space, when humans are so much lighter? Of course not, go with the humans. So then, why lift humans into space when robots are so much lighter?

Intelligent, conscious entities, children of humans, will almost certainly spread out into space. But the human form is so ridiculously wasteful compared to a human consciousness operating in a robotic machine that it will never make sense to expend the effort required to spread humans around.

Freeman Dyson brings up this very issue, his approach was the Astrochicken. But I don't think even he really got how it will all play out.

Arthur C Clarke did, I think. The human form is just a stepping stone. The story doesn't end there.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-02T06:54:05.901Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Which Arthur C Clarke novel(s) are you referring to? Even in 3001, he depicts humans colonizing the solar system, so I'm guessing it's not the Space Odyssey series.

comment by [deleted] · 2015-03-02T08:19:54.313Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

2001 - A Space Odyssey:

The first explorers of Earth had long since come to the limits of flesh and blood; as soon as their machines were better than their bodies, it was time to move. First their brains, and then their thoughts alone, they transferred into shining new homes of metal and of plastic.

In these, they roamed among the stars. They no longer built spaceships. They were spaceships.

But the age of the Machine-entities swiftly passed. In their ceaseless experimenting, they had learned to store knowledge in the structure of space itself, and to preserve their thoughts for eternity in frozen lattices of light. They could become creatures of radiation, free at last from the tyranny of matter.

Into pure energy, therefore, they presently transformed themselves; and on a thousand worlds, the empty shells they had discarded twitched for a while in a mindless dance of death, then crumbled into rust.

comment by Qqvl · 2015-03-04T21:53:38.939Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

Tetsuro: So that's Mars.

Maetel: They've raised the air pressure here up to the levels on Earth, but it's taken them a century to do so.

Tetsuro: They created it artificially?

Maetel: Exactly. It's a place where humans can live without any difficulty. Yet, the only ones who live here are people with machine bodies.

Tetsuro: So they didn't even have to bother raising the air pressure to Earth levels.

Maetel: Not at all. It was a completely wasted effort.

--Galaxy Express 999

comment by V_V · 2015-02-28T10:08:53.435Z · score: 2 (2 votes) · LW · GW

but Star Trek made a certain kind of sense in the late 1960's (nearly 50 years ago!) when the U.S. and the Soviet Union had real space programs which tried to do new things, one after another.

I haven really watched more than a few episodes of ToS, but IIUC it never even bothered to be a realistic depiction of how space exploration would look like. It was more e metaphor of the Cold War, in Space!

would people 50 years from now, in a permanently Earth-bound reality, bother to watch these ancient shows and obsess over the characters?

They will probably idolize some dude who played a vampire. Or zombie. Or BDSM vampire zombie...

comment by fubarobfusco · 2015-03-01T19:42:04.600Z · score: 4 (4 votes) · LW · GW

I haven really watched more than a few episodes of ToS, but IIUC it never even bothered to be a realistic depiction of how space exploration would look like. It was more e metaphor of the Cold War, in Space!

The original series was rarely about the political or military tension between the Federation and an opposing major power (i.e. the Klingons or Romulans). It was much more often about dropping in on some planet and solving some local problem; or some psychic effect or setup by superhuman powers causing the crew to reenact a moral or metaphorical drama. Superhuman godlike entities appear more often than the Federation's rivals.

(Klingons only appear in seven TOS episodes, and Romulans in three — out of 79 episodes produced. Alternate Earths, such as those of "Miri" and "Bread and Circuses", and explicit reenactments of Earth social systems, such as the Nazis of "Patterns of Force" or the gangsters of "A Piece of the Action", are about as common.)

comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-01T02:05:46.694Z · score: 3 (3 votes) · LW · GW

Won't they realize that humanity's dreams of obtaining vampirehood and zombiedom have utterly failed? They would never look up to such an obvious fantasy!

comment by pinyaka · 2015-03-05T19:48:46.411Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

If they had BDSM vampire zombies in space I would totally watch that. Once.

comment by MugaSofer · 2015-03-02T11:32:05.593Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Actually, they mention every so often that the Cold War turned hot in the Star Trek 'verse and society collapsed. They're descended from the civilization that rebuilt.

comment by TheAncientGeek · 2015-02-28T11:30:02.958Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

So much for the immense successes we have had with unmanned missions. It make a lot of sense to send a few pounds of electronics into space rather than a person. What's wrong with cost effectiveness all if a sudden?

comment by seer · 2015-03-05T03:47:29.072Z · score: 0 (0 votes) · LW · GW

It's cost effective in the short term. It's not clear that it's good for humanity in the long term.

comment by advancedatheist · 2015-02-27T21:39:03.213Z · score: -24 (30 votes) · LW · GW

I just have one: "Amok Time," which shows why male nerds have always identified with the Spock character: He gets an opportunity for sex only once every seven years - at best.

comment by JoshuaZ · 2015-02-28T14:20:04.208Z · score: 14 (14 votes) · LW · GW

which shows why male nerds have always identified with the Spock character: He gets an opportunity for sex only once every seven years - at best.

We get the point. You earlier:

These injunctions from the Abrahamic religions assume that young men have opportunities for "fornication" in the first place. What if the young women in your life do all of the rejecting to keep this from happening?

I can see why atheists would want to deny unicorns: They don't want unicorns to hold them accountable for their adult virginity. : ) and before that a nearly identical comment.

We understand that you think that certain demographics are not having sex and that this is a really important thing. Almost no one else here assigns this a high priority. Moreover, the fundamental claims in question are simply false. For example, Atheists and religious people have about the same amount of sex.

You used to spend your time on LW being an advocate for cryonics and related issues, something you've been involved with for a very long time and you clearly know a lot about. Why don't you post more on that subject anymore?

comment by is4junk · 2015-02-28T03:22:48.335Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I always liked that episode. Before I thought being emotionless was effortless for Spock. When I saw that episode I realized he had to work at it.

comment by Luke_A_Somers · 2015-02-28T04:27:32.082Z · score: 3 (5 votes) · LW · GW

And that justifies why they're so absolute about it - at least in their special case: there are no Schelling fences on the Vulcan brain, when it comes to emotion.

comment by TobyBartels · 2015-03-01T02:02:24.674Z · score: -2 (6 votes) · LW · GW

I'm upvoting this because I don't think that it should really be below the visible threshold. I expect that people are voting based not only on this comment but also on your other recent comments as cited by JoshuaZ. In and of itself, this comment is not as bad as all that, and it led to a worthwhile reply by is4junk. Nevertheless, I do basically agree with JoshuaZ.