Today I found out the famous Star Trek line “…to boldly go where no one has gone before” is thought to have been inspired by a passage in a White House issued pamphlet on space.
Specifically, it is thought to be from this passage in the pamphlet, “Introduction to Outer Space“:
It is useful to distinguish among four factors which give importance, urgency, and inevitability to the advancement of space technology.
The first of these factors is the compelling urge of man to explore and to discover, the thrust of curiosity that leads men to try to go where no one has gone before. Most of the surface of the earth has now been explored and men now turn to the exploration of outer space as their next objective.
The pamphlet was published on March 26, 1958 by the Presidential Science Advisory Committee. It was originally made for the President’s benefit, but was released publicly by President Eisenhower, who hoped it would be widely disseminated throughout the U.S. and the world. It is a fascinating read (really, you should read it) and nearly as relevant today as it was when it was written, in terms of why we should pursue space travel and as a general, good non-technical introduction to space (as was the main point of the pamphlet).
Any article centering around the phrase “to boldly go” would be remiss if it didn’t mention the often cited grammatical error in that statement, with the use of a split infinitive. However, since this is already an amazingly long article (primarily because of all the Bonus Facts below), I will just briefly say here that split infinitives are not incorrect grammatically, contrary to popular belief and what some English teachers will tell you, even today. In fact, the majority of modern English grammar guides list split infinitives as being perfectly acceptable. This has also been the case, not just in modern usage, but throughout a good percentage of the history of the English language (since those split infinitives first popped up around the 13th century). For much more on this, click here: Split Infinitives are Not Incorrect Grammatically
- In the Introduction to Outer Space pamphlet, it was stated: “Remotely-controlled scientific expeditions to the moon and nearby planets could absorb the energies of scientists for many decades. Since man is such an adventurous creature, there will undoubtedly come a time when he can no longer resist going out and seeing for himself. It would be foolish to try to predict today just when this moment will arrive. It might not arrive in this century, or it might come within one or two decades. So much will depend on how rapidly we want to expand and accelerate our program.” Just a little over 11 years later on July 20, 1969, two human beings walked on the moon. Moon landings continued until December 14, 1972 at 12:41 EST when Apollo 17 astronauts entered back into the lunar module and soon left the moon. The Apollo 17 mission was also the last time any human left low Earth orbit. That was almost 40 years ago… 40. years. ago! You can read more about this here: December 11th: Humans Land on the Moon for the Last Time
- The original Star Trek intro line actually said “…where no man has gone before.” This was changed in Star Trek, The Next Generation to match the original White House pamphlet, “…no one has gone before” in order to be more politically correct. However, it should be noted, this doesn’t make any sense in the context of Star Trek, The Next Generation where they’re fully aware of other intelligent beings that travel throughout the universe. Thus, “…no one has gone before” isn’t entirely accurate. Q, for instance, has ostensibly been everywhere, or at the least most everywhere, with his entire existence unbounded by time. While it’s possible there might be some part of the universe no intelligent being has gone before, that seems somewhat unlikely, in terms of where the humans are capable of going in the series. Thus, use of the original meaning of “man”, in the gender neutral sense (note: the word man was originally exclusively gender neutral), makes a lot more sense than using “one”. If they really wanted to be both politically and technically correct, they should have instead said something to the effect of “…no human has gone before”, but of course that doesn’t quite sound as climactic. And, I suppose, it is the intent of the Enterprise to explore where no one has gone before, even if they aren’t actually capable of doing so. /pedantic rant
- While this very real pamphlet is thought to be where the Star Trek creators came up with a key point of the intro to each episode, in the show itself, it was supposedly pulled from a speech given by the inventor of Warp technology, Zefram Chochrane in 2119: “On this site, a powerful engine will be built. An engine that will someday help us to travel a hundred times faster than we can today. Imagine it. Thousands of inhabited planets at our fingertips. And we’ll be able to explore those strange, new worlds. And seek out new life and new civilizations. This engine will let us go boldly where no man has gone before.”
- H.P. Lovecraft also used a similar line to the one used in Star Trek in his 1927 work “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath” (published in 1943): “Carter resolved to go with bold entreaty whither no man had gone before, and dare the icy deserts through the dark to where unknown Kadath, veiled in cloud and crowned with unimagined stars, holds secret and nocturnal the onyx castle of the Great Ones.”
- Samuel A. Peeples is thought to be the one that originally suggested the use of the phrase “…where no man has gone before”. He was the main writer of the second pilot for Star Trek, with the episode being called “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” The full phrasing was written as a collaborative effort between Gene Roddenberry, John D. F. Black, and Bob Justman. Before getting other input, Roddenberry had originally planned on this being the words spoken during the opening sequence: “This is the adventure of the United Space Ship Enterprise. Assigned a five year galaxy patrol, the bold crew of the giant starship explores the excitement of strange new worlds, uncharted civilizations, and exotic people. These are its voyages and its adventures.”
- No one in the original Star Trek show ever stated the words “beam me up, Scotty.”
- In the original Star Trek, the arrowhead badge worn by Enterprise crew members was exclusive to the Enterprise. Basically, it signified those who wore it were part of the Enterprise crew. Crew members of other ships wore different symbols. This changed in the movies and later shows (though not, Enterprise) with the arrowhead becoming the insignia of all of Starfleet.
- The iconic “live long and prosper” hand gesture was originally a Jewish sign. Read more here: Live Long and Prosper
- Leonard Nimoy was the one to come up with the Vulcan nerve pinch. In the first episode this pinch showed up, Spock was originally supposed to club evil Kirk over the head, knocking him out. Nimoy thought this was inconsistent with Spock’s personality. He felt a non-violent nerve pinch would be more fitting with Vulcan’s being able to emit energy from their fingertips; this energy when applied to the correct nerves of a human would then render the human unconscious.
- The actor that played “Scotty” on Star Trek was shot six times on D-Day. Read more here: James Doohan was Shot Six Times on D-Day
- Contrary to what many people think, James Doohan was not Scottish. He was Canadian. When he was auditioning for the role of the ship’s engineer, he went over various accents for Gene Roddenberry for the character. After he finished, Roddenberry asked him which he liked best and he responded: “Well, if you want an engineer, he better be a Scotsman because, in my experience, all the world’s best engineers have been Scottish.”
Although he wasn’t Scottish, Doohan described the character of Scotty as: “99% James Doohan and 1% accent.” “It was a natural. When I opened my mouth, there was Scotty. Scotty is the closest to Jimmy Doohan that I’ve ever done.”
- The name Montgomery Scott was chosen because Montgomery was Doohan’s middle name and the character was portrayed as Scottish.
- Doohan was married three times in his life and fathered four children. He met his final wife, Wende Braunberger, when she was just 17 and he was 54, marrying her very shortly after their first meeting. The two had three children, the last in 2000, and remained married for 31 years until Doohan’s death in 2005 at the age of 85.
- The planet Vulcan is stated to be just 16 light-years away from Earth. If this were true in real life, that would probably put it in the trinary system 40 Eridani, which is 16.45 light-years from us.
- Both the Klingon language and the Vulcan language were initially very crudely developed by James Doohan. Later, these languages were expanded and refined by professional linguists, primarily by Marc Okrand.
- Doohan didn’t have a middle finger on one of his hands. While great pains were taken in Star Trek to conceal this fact, there are several episodes where this can be observed. These include: Cat’s Paw; Day of the Dove; and The Lights of Zetar. This can also be observed in a scene in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. In the former, it can be observed when he hands McCoy parts for the Transwarp Drive and in the latter when he’s holding a plastic bag dinner which was given to him by Lt. Uhura.
- In the first two seasons of Star Trek, The Next Generation, you’ll notice that their uniforms are extremely tight. These uniforms were made of one-piece spandex. To make matters worse, the suits were intentionally sized too small so that they’d stretch extremely tightly over the actor’s bodies and not have any wrinkles. The actors hated them and eventually Patrick Stewart’s chiropractor told him that if he kept wearing them, it would cause real and possibly permanent damage to his spine. Hence, in season three, the uniforms were switched to being two-piece, less form fitting, and made of wool (obviously Counselor Troi still often wore tight Spandex, thankfully, as did many other guest cast members).
- A byproduct of the switch to the two piece uniforms for main cast members was that the top piece had a tendency to ride up on the actors. This gave rise to Patrick Stewart developing the habit of pulling down the top piece of the uniform periodically. He did this so much, that it became known as “The Picard Maneuver”.
- Originally, the Borg were not supposed to be a race of cyborgs, but rather, a race of insects. However, this was going to prove to be too expensive, so instead, they switched them to being a race of cyborgs and obviously came up with the name after the fact.
- The Interceptor (sailing vessel) in Pirates of the Caribbean film series is also used in the film, Star Trek Generations in a holodeck scene where Lieutenant Worf is promoted to Lieutenant Commander.
- The character of Guinan is of the race El-Aurians. El-Aurians derives from the Latin “Auris”, meaning “ear”. This is in reference to Guinan’s character being a good listener and why Soran from Star Trek Generations, who was also of that race, said they were a “race of listeners.”
- Malcolm McDowell, who played Soran, is the uncle of the doctor on Star Trek, Deeps Space Nine (Alexander Siddig).
- When Whoopi Golberg first learned they were making a new Star Trek series, she wrote to the creators and asked if she could have a part because she had been a huge fan of Star Trek since she was a little girl. She particularly was enamored with the character of Uhura, who was one of the first African Americans to star as a main character on network television. Goldberg even stated when she first saw the character of Uhura on the show, she yelled ”Momma! There’s a black lady on TV, and she ain’t no maid!” The producers initially ignored Goldberg’s request, as they didn’t think she was serious in wanting a recurring role on the show, but when they learned she was serious, they wrote the character Guinan for her.
- Ronald McNair, the second black person to go to space also was apparently significantly impacted by the character of Uhura. McNair’s brother, Carl, once stated that his brother, who died in the Challenger explosion, was inspired to become an astronaut because of it. He stated: “Now, Star Trek showed the future where there were black folk and white folk working together. I just looked at it as science fiction, ’cause that wasn’t going to happen, really.’ But Ronald saw it as science possibility. He came up during a time when there was Neil Armstrong and all of those guys; so how was a colored boy from South Carolina – wearing glasses, never flew a plane – how was he gonna become an astronaut? But Ron was one who didn’t accept societal norms as being his norm, you know? That was for other people. And he got to be aboard his own Starship Enterprise.”
- Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura, once stated that she was going to leave the show, but Martin Luther King told her she needed to stay because she was not only playing a black person as a main character on TV, but she was also playing a character that didn’t conform to the stereotypical black person of the day, usually portrayed. Rather, Uhura was portrayed as an intelligent member of the crew and an equal to those around her.
- Nichols once worked for NASA. They hired her to recruit minorities and women to become astronauts. In that position, she actually was the one to recruit the first black man to go to space, Col. Guion Bluford. She also recruited McNair.
- Brent Spiner, who played Data, hates cats. Hence, he was never a fan of the scenes with himself and Spot, Data’s cat. When Spiner read the scene where Data finds that his cat Spot is still alive after the Enterprise wrecks in Star Trek Generations, he apparently stated: “Does he have to find the cat? Can’t he find, like, Geordi or something?”
- At the end of Star Trek Generations, Kirk was originally killed off-hand by Soran, by getting shot in the back. Audiences hated this way for the famous Captain Kirk to die, so Paramount was forced to spend around $5 million to re-shoot Kirk’s death scene to be more heroic.
- The character of Data was originally supposed to be the Chief Science Officer. However, when they first started shooting, they realized this wouldn’t work because the blue uniform clashed with the android make-up Spiner had to wear. Instead, Data was made Chief of Ops, so he could wear yellow.
- You may have noticed that the number 47 pops up a lot in the Star Trek franchise. This is because one of the writers and producers of Star Trek, the Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek, Voyager, Joe Menosky, had a mathematics professor in college, Donald Bentley, who used to joke that all numbers are equal to 47. This quickly became a running gag on the show. If you didn’t notice it before, you’ll certainly notice it now when watching Star Trek! (47 is everywhere if you watch closely)
- Marina Sirtis, who ultimately ended up playing Counselor Troi, was actually originally cast to play the chief security officer. Interestingly, Denise Crosby, who played the chief security officer Lt. Natasha Yar, was originally cast to play Counselor Troi. Obviously the roles were switched by the time filming began. Further, the character of Counselor Troi was actually going to be gotten rid of after the first season, but when Denise Crosby asked out of the show and Gates McFadden also left, they decided to keep Troi around, rather than get rid of another female cast member.
- Gates McFadden was released from the show after season one because of constant arguments with the producers over the lack of development in her character. Particularly, she was unhappy about the fact that originally she had been told her character and the captain’s would become involved romantically, which wasn’t taking place. Obviously they second guessed their decision after the second season and asked her back. She only agreed after Patrick Stewart himself called her to try to get her to come back. She and Stewart were apparently very close friends, having worked together before Star Trek, The Next Generation.
- Denise Crosby wanted to leave the show, and ultimately did, for the same reason McFadden was unhappy, namely the lack of development in her character.
- The character of Counselor Troi has deep brown eyes. In reality, Sirtis has green eyes and wore colored contact lenses for the role at the request of the producers who thought brown eyes went better with her hair.
- You might have noticed Troi’s accent changed from the first season to the later seasons. This switch happened around the time her mother came on board. Originally, Sirtis had tried to do some sort of “alien” accent, to reflect the Betazoid side of the character. However, Majel Barrett, as her mother, just used an American accent. From that point, Sirtis decided to make Troi’s accent sound Eastern-European, with the idea that that’s where Troi’s father was from, hence where she picked up the accent.
- The character of Geordi La Forge was named after a long time Star Trek fan who was confined to a wheelchair, George La Forge.
- The character of Q was also named in homage of a real person, a British fan of the show by the name of Janet Quarton.
- You may have noticed that Star Trek main characters tend not to get promoted much. However, the one notable exception was Geordi. In the beginning, his character was a Lieutenant junior grade. By the second season, he had been promoted to Lieutenant. By the third season, he was made Lieutenant Commander. He also appeared as a Captain in one episode of Star Trek: Voyager (Timeless).
- Wesley Snipes and Reggie Jackson (yes, the baseball player) originally both tried out for the part of Geordi La Forge. One can only imagine the train wreck that would have been the union of Wesley Snipes and the character of Geordi.
- The character of Wesley Crusher was originally supposed to be Leslie Crusher. Luckily for Wil Wheaton, this was changed and they decided to go with a son for Dr. Crusher. The name “Wesley” was Gene Roddenberry’s middle name.
- Data’s name was originally supposed to be pronounced dat-uh, rather than date-uh, but it was changed before filming.
- After season one of Star Trek, the Next Generation, Jonathan Frakes grew a beard in between the filming of that season and the next. He was going to shave it off, but when the producers saw it, they asked him to keep it for the show.
- If you were to zoom in on the Engineering schematic of the Enterprise in The Next Generation, you’d see a mouse on a wheel in Engineering and a Porsche in the main shuttle bay. Obviously these elements are too small to see on TV.
- In The Next Generation episode “The Arsenal of Freedom”, the killer hover probe was made primarily out of a shampoo bottle and a pantyhose container.
- Another interesting simple visual effect was how they made the “edge of the universe” in “Where No One Has Gone Before”. Basically, they just bounced a laser beam off of a beer can. The transporter visual effect (for TNG) was created by filming glitter swirled around in water. In the original, it was aluminum powder blown by a fan under a spotlight.
- The famous sliding door sound effect on Star Trek was made by James Wolvington, a sound editor, rubbing his shoe across the floor and then editing that up until he got a satisfactory sound.
- The character of Data was quoted as having a memory capacity of 800 quadrillion bits or about 100 petabytes. For reference, this is about 1/716 the amount of data downloaded on the internet every day. That might not sound like much in terms of his capacity, but it is currently estimated that all the digital data in the world today only adds up to around 8000 times Data’s storage capacity. Further, as recently as 2005, all the text data on the internet was thought to only add up to around 1/50th of Data’s capacity.
- Patrick Stewart’s been bald since his late teens / early 20s. The producers of the show, thus, asked him to wear a toupee when he first met the Paramount executives as they were afraid the executives wouldn’t want to cast him as the captain if they knew he was bald. Instead, though, after the meeting, they said they wanted him, but only if he didn’t wear a toupee when on the show.
- One of the ongoing bloopers that happened on Star Trek was actors running into doors that didn’t open in time. Rather than actually make the doors motorized and electronic on the set, instead, they just had stage hands open and close them manually via ropes and pulleys. However, the stage hands occasionally would not get the timing right and because the actors were told they were to always act like the doors were going to open and not hesitate, they frequently walked and sometimes ran right into the doors. If you’ve ever been to a Star Trek convention, you’ll likely see a video of some of these bloopers, such as one video that shows a minute straight of numerous times William Shatner ran into a door that didn’t open.
- Patrick Stewart was not the first choice for Captain Picard. Rather, the role was first offered to Edward James Olmos. He turned it down (thankfully, not to disrespect him, but it’s hard to imagine someone playing the part better than Patrick Stewart). Olmos is best known for his work in Miami Vice as Lt. Martin Castillo. In the sci-fi world, he’s probably best known as Detective Gaff in Blade Runner or William Adama in Battlestar Galactica.
- The U.S. Navy has a motto: “Ex tridens scientia” (From the sea, knowledge). This was borrowed in Star Trek with Starfleet Academy having the motto: “Ex Astris, Scientia” (“From the stars, knowledge”).
- The practice of calling Riker “Number 1″ stemmed from the British tradition of calling a first officer aboard a ship “Number 1″.
- The stardate used on Star Trek, The Next Generation often seems like random numbers, rather than an actual date. In fact, though, they do signify a real date/time system. There are 1000 units in an Earth year in that system, so 0 to 1000 would be year 0 to year 1. In the first episode of The Next Generation, the stardate is 41153.7; thus, the last three digits can be converted to the month and day of the year. So, in this case, 153.7/1000 = .1537 *365 = 56. Thus, by our calendar system, the first episode would be on February 25, 2364. The last episode, 47988, would then be on December 26, 2370.
- You might have noticed that the Klingons in the original Star Trek don’t closely resemble the Klingons in the later movies and shows. This was originally due to budget problems where Roddenberry wasn’t able to get the Klingons to look as he had wanted. Obviously this was no longer a problem with the movies and later shows. This change isn’t addressed until an episode of Deep Space Nine where Worf mentions an event that occurred to make Klingons look more human, but doesn’t elaborate further. However, this is later expounded upon in Enterprise where it is found a virus affected the Klingons and caused some of them to appear more human, as in the original Star Trek.
- NBC was originally concerned with Spock looking like a depiction of the devil (indeed, Roddenberry even originally had wanted Spock’s skin to be red). NBC even went so far as to have Spock’s ears and eyebrows airbrushed in promotional magazine campaigns to make him look more normal. Spock’s skin color ultimately was made to be normal, rather than red, due to the fact that the red color on black and white screens looked black.
- Spock’s hair style briefly became popular back in the 1960s among kids. Interestingly, Nemoy’s dad was a barber and once the show became somewhat popular, he kept getting kids coming in asking for “Mr. Spock’s haircut”, though most were ignorant of the fact that Nemoy was his son.
- To date, the Star Trek movies alone have grossed over $2.145 billion. Further, the merchandising gross for the entire franchise is estimated to be over $4 billion. I was not able to find gross numbers for the shows themselves, but one imagines they did pretty well for themselves, running for a combined 30 seasons (including the animated series).
Expand for References
- Introduction to Space
- Where No Man Has Gone Before
- Boldly Go, Star Trek and Spaceflight
- Cultural Influences of Star Trek
- Star Trek
- Star Trek Enterprise Trivia
- Star Trek Generations Trivia
- Star Trek Voyager Trivia
- Star Trek The Next Generation Trivia
- Star Trek Trivia
- Edward James Olmos
- Star Fleet Uniforms
- Jeffrey Archer
- The Lady Washington
- Patrick Stewart
- Samuel A. Peeples