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Vulcan (Star Trek)

In the fictional Star Trek universe created by Gene Roddenberry, Vulcans are a humanoid alien race noted for their attempt to live by reason and logic. They suppress all emotional influence by living lives of rigid emotional self-control through meditative techniques and training of mental discipline. The main external characteristics that distinguish Vulcans from humans are arched eyebrows and pointed ears, along with a slight greenish skin tint due to their copper-based blood.

Lt. Commander Spock as seen on the original Star Trek series. Perhaps the best known Vulcan.
Lt. Commander Spock as seen on the original Star Trek series. Perhaps the best known Vulcan.

The Vulcan race originates on planet Vulcan, which orbits either the star 40 Eridani or the star Epsilon Eridani (cites differ). The surface of Vulcan is much hotter than that of Earth. The planet's atmosphere is thinner than Earth's; as a result, humans tend to tire out more quickly.

The most well-known Vulcan among Star Trek fans is Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy. Nimoy felt that the Vulcans represented the Jewish people (to which he belonged), and he invented the famous "live long and prosper" Vulcan hand gesture (palm forward, fingers pointing up, separate the middle finger and the ring finger) based on the hand symbol which rabbis use for "God" instead of the spoken word.



Vulcans are contact telepaths. By means of a procedure known as mind-meld, which involves physical contact with a subject, it is possible for them to share all their thoughts, experience, memories and knowledge with another individual. Vulcans can perform a mind-meld with members of most other species, most notably humans. Ferengi are one of the few races known to be impervious to the mind meld.

For some reason, the use of the mind meld was taboo for a period of time, perhaps because by the time of Surak Vulcans were using their telepathic abilities to kill. However following contact with humans, Vulcans eventually came to accept their telepathic abilities. By the mid 23rd century, the mind meld was an accepted part of Vulcan society, and was even used once to rejoin Spock's katra with his healed physical body.

Many Vulcans are skilled in a self-defense move known as the Vulcan nerve pinch or neck pinch, which targets a precise location overlying the baroreceptors of the carotid sinus at the base of the humanoid neck, instantly rendering the victim unconscious. While practiced mainly by Vulcans, it is not exclusive to their race; for example, Data and Jean-Luc Picard have also mastered the technique, the latter probably acquiring it during his mind-meld with Sarek.

In addition, Vulcans tend to be stronger and longer-lived than humans—Sarek lived just over two centuries. The former of these qualities is often attributed to Vulcan's gravity being significantly greater than Earth's. Due to the strong sunlight on the planet, Vulcans also evolved an inner eyelid which can come down to protect the eyes from particularly strong flashes of light. Vulcans can also tolerate higher temperatures than humans can. In the original series episode "The Deadly Years" when Spock was affected by rapid aging he noted how cold the ship seemed, and he responded by turning the temperature in his room up to well above 100 F (38 C).

Vulcans are vegetarians. They do not like to touch their food with their hands, preferring to use utensils.



The Vulcan race are thought to be the descendents of a colony from Sargon's planet, with settlement of Vulcan occurring in approximately 500,000 B.C.E. At some point, the settlers seem to have lost their technology and reverted to barbarism.

It is speculated that a species that was known on Earth as the gods of ancient Rome traveled to ancient Vulcan in antiquity, thus influencing those that would later become Romulans.

In about 850 B.C.E., Vulcans established a monastery on the planet P'Jem .

In about the second century B.C.E., Vulcans emerged under a philsopher named Surak from their violent tendencies and civil wars. Surak advocated the suppressing of emotion in favor of logic. This period was known as the Great Awakening and almost all of present-day Vulcan philosophy emerged from this period. This lifestyle was not universally accepted, and a portion of society left Vulcan for the stars. These would eventually become known as the Romulans. (Dates for the Great Awakening vary, but Romulans existed as a distinct race as early as 200 C.E., so it would have to have been prior to this.)

Interstellar activity

The Vulcans fought a hundred-year war with the Romulans. (The date for this event is unrevealed, but it was over by 2044.)

Vulcan first contact with the Andorian race was promising, but relations soured in time. The threat of mutual annihilation existed as early as the 1950s.

In 1957, the lauch of Sputnik I, Earth's first artificial satellite, was observed by a Vulcan vessel that subsequently crashed on the planet.

In 2053 the Vulcans made first contact with the Arkonians .

On April 5, 2063 Vulcans and Humans make official first contact.

In 2097 the Vulcans annexed the Andorian planetoid Weytahn and renamed it Pan Mokar.

In 2105 The Vulcan and Andorians agree a compromise over the planet Weytahn / Pan Mokar. Still, tensions continue due to the threat of mutual annihilation.

On August 12, 2161, Vulcan becomes one of the founding members of the United Federation of Planets.


The Vulcan spoken language has been heard intermittently throughout the various Star Trek series. Most of the official spoken Vulcan occurred in Spock's kolinahr ceremony in Star Trek The Motion Picture, and a short fourteen word conversation between Spock and Saavik in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Other words and short phrases have also been heard elsewhere. A more thorough treatment of the Vulcan language can be found at the Vulcan Language Institute.

The Vulcans appear to have three written languages; two of which which can be used separately or in combination with each other. The most common script on Vulcan is a vertically-written script, having a central staff line on which vertical spirals and horizontal dashes are written, along with dots in various combinations. While no official translations for these symbols exist, it is assumed that the dots and dashes represent consonants and the spirals are the vowels. The script is written in vertical columns from top to bottom, left to right (like Mongolian). The second script written in the same direction consists of swirly curved symbols (like Japanese hiragana). It is assumed that these symbols are also phonetic, perhaps syllabic or consonantal. The first two scripts can be used seperately or in combination with each other. When this is the case, the swirl symbols accompany the staff writing symbols as annotation written to the right of the staff. A third script consists of rectangular blocks cut into geometric shapes. They have only ever been seen on the hulls of some Vulcan ships and bear no relation to the first two scripts.


Vulcan males usually have named which begin with 'S' and end with 'k'. Vulcan females usually have names which begin with 'T' and an apostrophe, followed by three letters.

Famous Vulcans

Vulcans in other media

  • Green Lantern - In an issue of DC Comics' Green Lantern series, an obviously Vulcan character appeared as a member of the Green Lantern Corps. He had pointed ears, spoke 'logically', and he had a brief conversation with Hal Jordan (Main character of the series) which ended with a "live long and prosper" and the famous hand gesture.


  • Star Trek: The Magazine v3 #10 (February 2003 - "Romulan Propulsion Historical Overview" by Rick Sternbach & Tim Earls )

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Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45