Live long and prosper……

spock.jpg “IT IS probably the most famous greeting in the universe.

But the simple Vulcan salute left makers of the new Star Trek film with a galactic-sized headache – because Mr Spock just couldn’t do it.

After much head-scratching, experts on the $150 million blockbuster – which boasts stunning high-tech effects – hit upon a low-tech but logical solution – gluing actor Zachary Quinto’s fingers together, The Mail on Sunday newspaper in the UK reports.

Quinto, 31, admitted he found it impossible to form his fingers into the distinctive V-shaped gesture, saying: “It’s much harder than it looks. Seriously.”

One on-set insider said: “Zach could do the salute some of the time but only after he’d positioned his fingers the right way off-camera.

“In some scenes he has to do the salute while speaking his lines so they ended up using skin-protective superglue, like they use in hospitals, to stick his fingers together.”

William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in the long-running TV show and the first seven Star Trek films, was also unable to do the salute, so he used fishing line to tie his fingers together”. (Link)

So what’s going on there then? If the first Spock had Vulcan Hand Signal Ability (hereafter referred to a ‘VHSA’) why not the new guy?

Is it a genetic thing like tongue rolling? You’ve got the gene or you haven’t? Or is it a learnt thing like juggling or tying shoelaces? Once you’ve got the enactive ‘muscle memory’ in place you don’t have to think about VHSA anymore? Surely if it was a practice thing then the new Spock would beat himself up trying to master this skill…. I’m sure Christian Bale would put the effort in if he found himself in such a position.

My own limited research during lunch today indicates that it does get easier with practice, but you still have to think about the physical position of your fingers quite a lot. It also seems to help if you position your fingers whilst your arms are lowered and then raise them, but I’m not sure it looks as cool. So I don’t know… maybe I’ve just got the VHSA gene. But if I have, what possible evolutionary advantage could that have? I’m pretty certain that the ability to mimic characters from Star Trek is unlikely to enhance one’s reproductive potential……

(Couldn’t quite work out where this fitted in on the syllabus, but obviously had to get it in somewhere so, if you click on the ‘see rest of post’ link below, it’ll take you to the “VHSA Research Methods Worksheet”).


(Cut and paste these questions into a word doc, paste in a picture of Spock… job done)

There are many ‘correct’ answers to these questions. It’s just to get you thinking. It’s ok, as long as you make some decisions and can explain why you made those decisions.

1) What type of research would you use to investigate the idea that VHSA might be, at least in part, genetic? What kind of data would you be looking for? If VHSA is genetic, what sort of patterns or links should we find? Where? What type of research participants would you use? How many? What would your target population be? How would you select your sample of participants?

2) What type of research would you do to determine whether VHSA could be learnt? Propose a hypothesis that you could test. What would your dependent and independent variables be? How would you ‘operationalise’ VHSA? What would your results look like? How would they be presented or displayed?