David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
from the world's big
Start Learning

Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy Memorialized With Asteroid

Live long and prosper...and try not to hit us, please.

Following his February 2015 passing, famed Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy has been memorialized in a way that honors his career-defining science-fiction role. The man who embodied Mr. Spock for decades on television and film now has an asteroid named after him. The asteroid, formerly dubbed 1988 RA5, was discovered in 1988 (fittingly), by Belgian astronomer Henri Debehogne. The folks over at Universe Today have some hot tips on just when you might be able to pull out your trusty telescope and catch Nimoy on his way across the night sky.

If the concept of naming a celestial body after a deceased person sounds both novel and familiar, you probably have a vague recollection of the International Star Registry, which was founded in 1979, and gives you the chance to name a star after a special friend or loved one. It's just a gimmick, and there's nothing official about it, but it's a pretty ingenious business idea. Inventory is free, and promises not to run out for billions of years.

The official stuff is handled by the International Astronomical Union, and that's serious business. Nimoy is one of many figures to be recognized by the IAU, which, in addition to naming stars, names minor planets. Many of these minor planets are named after people, and the IAU gets quite creative in handling this process. Astronomers (amateur and professional), chemists, mathematicians, composers, and even pop-culture figures get a piece of the action. There are planets named after Carl Sagan, Aristotle, Donatello, and Andy Warhol, but those are some of the relatively tame choices. Tom Hanks, retired hockey player Pavel Bure, and even '70s rock band ZZ Top all have their own planets. 

An asteroid is undoubtedly a fitting tribute for someone as close to the hearts of so many scientists as Nimoy. Although Star Trek sometimes gets lampooned for its low-budget Hollywood portrayal of space exploration, its role in inspiring young scientists across generations has been very real. As a genre, science fiction takes the dry material from our Earth-science textbooks and uses it to inspire us with a vision of the future that's full of wondrous possibilities. It's a bit like an advertisement for the field of science, complete with the transparent, but irresistible exaggerations commercials use to hook us in. Sure, it can be cheesy, but without it, we may not have discovered so many minor planets. And I don't know if I'd be very happy living in a world without a planet named after The Bee Gees.

It would be ironic if Mr. Nimoy's asteroid ever took a turn toward Earth, signaling that our species might live relatively briefly and probably not prosper. On the other hand, our ability to cope with incoming planetary threats is improving as Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Villanova University Edward M. Sion explains (Sion also discusses Lunar Vulcanism, though no mention yet of the Lunar Vulcan Grip):

Visit Universe Today for more.  

LIVE EVENT | Radical innovation: Unlocking the future of human invention

Innovation in manufacturing has crawled since the 1950s. That's about to speed up.

Big Think LIVE

Add event to calendar

AppleGoogleOffice 365OutlookOutlook.comYahoo

Keep reading Show less

Bubonic plague case reported in China

Health officials in China reported that a man was infected with bubonic plague, the infectious disease that caused the Black Death.

Vials Of Bacteria That May Cause Plague Missing From TX University

(Photo by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Getty Images)
  • The case was reported in the city of Bayannur, which has issued a level-three plague prevention warning.
  • Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
  • Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Keep reading Show less

The dangers of the chemical imbalance theory of depression

A new Harvard study finds that the language you use affects patient outcome.

Image: solarseven / Shutterstock
Mind & Brain
  • A study at Harvard's McLean Hospital claims that using the language of chemical imbalances worsens patient outcomes.
  • Though psychiatry has largely abandoned DSM categories, professor Joseph E Davis writes that the field continues to strive for a "brain-based diagnostic system."
  • Chemical explanations of mental health appear to benefit pharmaceutical companies far more than patients.
Keep reading Show less

Navy SEALs: How to build a warrior mindset

SEAL training is the ultimate test of both mental and physical strength.

  • The fact that U.S. Navy SEALs endure very rigorous training before entering the field is common knowledge, but just what happens at those facilities is less often discussed. In this video, former SEALs Brent Gleeson, David Goggins, and Eric Greitens (as well as authors Jesse Itzler and Jamie Wheal) talk about how the 18-month program is designed to build elite, disciplined operatives with immense mental toughness and resilience.
  • Wheal dives into the cutting-edge technology and science that the navy uses to prepare these individuals. Itzler shares his experience meeting and briefly living with Goggins (who was also an Army Ranger) and the things he learned about pushing past perceived limits.
  • Goggins dives into why you should leave your comfort zone, introduces the 40 percent rule, and explains why the biggest battle we all face is the one in our own minds. "Usually whatever's in front of you isn't as big as you make it out to be," says the SEAL turned motivational speaker. "We start to make these very small things enormous because we allow our minds to take control and go away from us. We have to regain control of our mind."
Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…