- "Live long and prosper."
- ―A common Vulcan saying.
Spock, a Vulcan/Human hybrid
|Habitat||Evolved on a desert environment|
|Height||Same as Humans (approximately)|
|Diet||Omnivorous, but usually restrict themselves to a vegetarian diet|
|Subspecies/Races||Romulans (offshoot species), Mintakans|
|Behind the Scenes|
|Universe||Star Trek Universe|
Vulcans are a sapient humanoid race native to planet Vulcan. They are notable for their commitment to logic and reasoning, and for being one of the founding members of the United Federation of Planets.
Externally, Vulcans are exceptionally similar to Humans, the main differences being their arched eyebrows and pointed ears. Physically omnivorous, they prefer to restrict themselves to a vegetarian diet, the exact reason for this being unclear. It is possible that this reflects a cultural tradition going back to thousands of years.
The Vulcan heart is located in the region where a Humans liver would be. They have green-colored blood, containing copper, similar to Earth's arthropods. Vulcans also have a much faster metabolism than Humans: their heart beats several hundred times per minute and they are physically much faster and much stronger than Humans. In spite of this fast metabolism, they are relatively long-lived, having an average lifespan of two-hundred years. Whether these are Vulcan years or Earth years is still unclear. The Vulcan body is very resilient, and they are able to survive for many days without food, water or sleep.
Vulcans have many physical adaptations to the hot, desert environment of their homeworld: they have a set of inner eyelids which protects their eyes from brightness and sandstorms. They also have a very efficient respiratory system, in order to get enough oxygen from their planet's thin atmosphere.
Vulcans have an acute sense of hearing and their brains are very complex. They are a telepathic species, being able to read another being's mind by simply touching the being's head with their fingers. This is known as "Vulcan mind meld". It is also possible, though probably not as efficient, to perform mind meld without having physical contact. Another ability they have is the "Vulcan nerve pinch", which is used to render another being unconscious by pinching them on the neck region. Vulcans are at least partially able to voluntarily control aspects of their physiology which would usually be involuntary. When injured, for example, they can concentrate all their strength into healing the injury faster.
Every seven years, adult Vulcans pass through a mating ritual called "pon farr", where they face dangerously intense emotional stress, and whereupon they must mate or die.
Before death, Vulcans are able to use mind meld to transfer their "spirit" or living essence to another being or object: a process known as "katra".
Culture and societyEdit
Once a violent and superstitious race, Vulcans have learned to suppress emotions and live almost solely by logic. The founder of the Vulcan's modern way of thinking was a Vulcan called Surak. Those who didn't follow his philosophy remained belligerent and formed colonies on other planets, eventually spawning the Romulan race.
The Vulcan civilization has long reached a technologically-advanced, space-faring stage of existence. Vulcans were the first extraterrestrial species to make official contact with Humans on Earth. They were among the founding species of the United Federation of Planets and are still one of the major members of the Federation.
History and politicsEdit
Commander Spock once theorized that Sargon's people may have colonized Vulcan some six million years ago. Sargon believed that Humans and Vulcans might even be descendants of their early travelers. (TOS: "Return to Tomorrow")
With the discovery of ancient humanoid progenitors in the 24th century, most humanoid lifeforms in the known galaxy were found to have a "seed" genetic code guiding their evolution to the humanoid form. (TNG: "The Chase")
Commander T'Pol revealed, regarding Vulcans and the planet Vulcan, that her "species evolved on this planet." (ENT: "The Forge")
Culturally one of the most fascinating species in the Federation, the Vulcans were once an extremely violent and emotional people (even by Earth standards) who waged almost constant warfare on one another. (TOS: "Balance of Terror") They believed in a variety of gods, such as war, peace and death. (TNG: "Gambit, Part II") As their level of technology improved, the Vulcans eventually reached a point where their violent nature threatened species extinction. (ENT: "Awakening")
In an effort to avoid this fate, a Vulcan named Surak developed a new philosophy thereby igniting the Time of Awakening. Surak maintained that the root cause of all the problems on Vulcan lay in the uncontrolled outpouring of the people's emotions. His followers swore to live their lives by an ethical system devised by Surak and based purely on logical principles. Emotions were to be controlled and repressed. (TAS: "Yesteryear")
Although this new philosophy spread rapidly across Vulcan, a minority, many of whom were known as "those who march beneath the Raptor's wings", rejected Surak's ideals. A destructive war began including the use of atomic bombs and among the victims was Surak himself. (ENT: "The Forge", "Awakening")
Eventually, however, those who opposed logic left Vulcan and founded colonies elsewhere (TNG: "Gambit, Part I", "Gambit, Part II") – most notably on the planet Romulus, where they founded what eventually became the Romulan Star Empire. (TOS: "Balance of Terror", "The Enterprise Incident"; TNG: "Unification I", "Unification II") At some point in history, the Romulans and the Vulcans engaged in a hundred-year long war against one another. The war was instigated by the actions of a member of the Q Continuum. (VOY: "Death Wish")
Another group that rejected Surak's philosophy was known as the "V'tosh ka'tur" or "Vulcans without logic". The V'tosh ka'tur believed in controlling emotions by allowing themselves to actively experience them rather than suppressing them. Many of these also left Vulcan, and took up a nomadic existence. (ENT: "Fusion")
The Vulcans were one of the first of the current powers to develop warp drive, though a century would pass between the first warp flight and the breaking of the warp 2 barrier. (ENT: "First Flight") The Vulcans conducted a series of survey missions to the Sol system, as early as 1957. (ENT: "Carbon Creek"). T'Pol told Archer that Vulcans "don't share" Humans' "enthusiasm for space exploration," but a Syrranite on Vulcan advised Archer that this may not be true. (ENT: "Fight or Flight", "The Forge")
The official first contact between Vulcans and Humans came on April 5, 2063 when a Vulcan survey ship detected the warp flight of Zefram Cochrane's Phoenix. The Vulcans met with Cochrane at his launch site on the day following the flight. (Star Trek: First Contact)
The Vulcans eventually became Earth's "big brother" in a way, advising Earth officials on how to proceed into the galaxy. The Vulcan High Command considered Humans volatile and similar to Vulcans before the Time of Awakening, and so attempted to slow down Humanity's move into the galaxy until the time was right. (ENT: "Broken Bow", "The Forge")
By the 21st and 22nd centuries, the Vulcans would have also made contact with the Cardassians, Trill, Tholians, Klingons, and scores of other races. (DS9: "Destiny"; ENT: "Broken Bow", "Future Tense")
In contrast to their tradition of peaceful exploration, the Vulcans have also had a long history of border skirmishes with the neighboring Andorians. The Humans helped negotiate a peace between the two over the disputed Class D planetoid known to the Vulcans as Paan Mokar. (ENT: "Cease Fire")
In the 22nd century, the Vulcan High Command, once in charge only of space exploration and planetary defense, gained much more control over civilian affairs. Under the High Command's leadership, Vulcan policy toward other planets became more aggressive and interventionist, using the ancient monastery at P'Jem to spy on Andorian activities. (ENT: "The Andorian Incident")
Vulcan also became less tolerant of political and philosophical challenges towards the High Command's operations, notably engaging in purges of the Syrrannite group, who claimed that Vulcan society was no longer following the teachings of Surak. These tensions came to a head in the crisis called the Vulcan Reformation, which resulted in the overthrow of the High Command (and its leader, V'Las, who was secretly allied with the Romulans) and a restructuring of the Vulcan government under the leadership of Kuvak and T'Pau. One of the first acts of the new government was to end the policy of holding back Human expansion into the galaxy. (ENT: "The Forge", "Awakening", "Kir'Shara")
As of the 23rd century, Vulcan had never been conquered in its collective memory. That memory goes so far back that Vulcans cannot conceive of a conqueror. (TOS: "The Immunity Syndrome")
Today, Vulcan remains one of the principal Federation members, and is deeply involved in all levels of that society. Their tradition of exploration has continued; in the 24th century, a Vulcan ship was the first to make formal contact with a Gamma Quadrant civilization, upon encountering the Wadi. (DS9: "Move Along Home") They were at the forefront of exploration in the Gamma Quadrant, encountering the Rakhari and finding the remains of the Hur'q civilization. (DS9: "Vortex", "The Sword of Kahless")
Despite the enmity between the Federation and the Romulan Star Empire, some Vulcans have been attempting to forge a more cordial relationship with their cousins, ultimately hoping to reunify the two cultures. So far these efforts have met with little success. (TNG: "Unification I", "Unification II") In the wake of the Reman uprising, as well as the improved relations between the Romulans and the Federation after the Dominion War, it is unclear what the current status of this movement is.
In the 24th century, the Vulcan ministry of security was known as the V'Shar. (TNG: "Gambit, Part II")
History turned out much differently for the Vulcans of the mirror universe. When the Vulcans made first contact with Earth of this universe in 2063, Zefram Cochrane shot the first Vulcan to publicly set foot on Terran soil, believing his vessel to be the vanguard of an intended invasion. The Terrans stormed the T'Plana-Hath and studied Vulcan technology. Eventually, the Terran Empire was able to conquer the Vulcans. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly")
By the 2150's, Vulcans were considered slaves to Humans and not treated as equals. A number of Vulcans and Vulcan ships rebelled against the Terran Empire, but by 2267, their attempts seem to have been unsuccessful. By that time, however, it appeared that Vulcans, such as Spock, were treated with more respect and feared by some Terrans. (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly, Part II"; TOS: "Mirror, Mirror")
In the 2370's, the Vulcans served as slaves to the Klingon-Cardassian Alliance. Several were seen fanning the Intendant aboard Terok Nor. (DS9: "Crossover")
Some Vulcans, such as Tuvok, joined the Terran Rebellion. (DS9: "Through the Looking Glass")
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Vulcan physiology is their brain. The Vulcan brain has been described as "a puzzle, wrapped inside an enigma, housed inside a cranium." (VOY: "Riddles") This has some basis in fact, as the Vulcan brain is composed of many layers.
It is in direct control of most of the bodily functions, acting as a control unit for many organs. Despite this, a Vulcan body from which the brain has been removed is capable of functioning and even walking around (albeit in a zombie-like state) with a portable life support system. (TOS: "Spock's Brain")
Unlike most humanoid species, traumatic memories are not only psychologically disturbing to Vulcans, but have physical consequences as well. The Vulcan brain, in reordering neural pathways, can literally lobotomize itself. (VOY: "Flashback")
Vulcans have learned to gain conscious control of many of these functions, allowing them to regulate their bodies to a high degree by simple will power. When injured a Vulcan can go into a trance-like state, using this ability to concentrate all of his or her energy onto repairing the injury. (TOS: "A Private Little War")
This trance can be self-induced and give the physical appearance of near-death. It is similar, in principle, to Vulcan neuropressure techniques which can be used to relax the mind and body. (TOS: "By Any Other Name"; VOY: "Riddles"; ENT: "The Xindi")
The substance trellium-D acts as a neurotoxin to Vulcans, destroying the neural pathways which control their emotions. Treatment must be provided quickly after exposure, otherwise the damage is irreversible. (ENT: "Impulse")
The most famous aspect of the Vulcan brain is the inherent telepathic abilities, such as the Vulcan mind meld. Vulcans are natural touch-telepaths. Though considerable training is required to utilize this ability to the fullest (this would be performing the fal-tor-pan), simpler contacts do not require any concentration, training or even conscious knowledge of the act. (VOY: "Blood Fever")
Stronger minds are capable of non-contact telepathic projection and scanning, usually over short distances, (TOS: "The Devil in the Dark", "The Omega Glory"; VOY: "Random Thoughts", "Prey") but sometimes even over interstellar distances. (TOS: "The Immunity Syndrome"; Star Trek: The Motion Picture")
Another psionic ability of the Vulcan race is the telepathic suggestion/compulsion, consciously performed by Spock, (TOS: "A Taste of Armageddon", "The Omega Glory") Sybok, (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier) Tuvok, (VOY: "Repression") and T'Pol, (ENT: "In a Mirror, Darkly") and unconsciously performed by Sarek. (TNG: "Sarek")
Although Vulcans do not, typically, allow themselves to experience uncontrolled strong emotions, they may sense them in others. (ENT: "Fallen Hero")
Besides the Trill, who achieve this through the zhian'tara ritual, Vulcans are the only other known humanoid race capable of performing a synaptic pattern displacement, or the transfer of one individual's consciousness into another. Similar feats were also performed by the people of Sargon's planet, Janice Lester, Dr. Ira Graves, Rao Vantika and Tieran, though they used technology instead of psionic abilities to achieve it. (TOS: "Return to Tomorrow", "Turnabout Intruder"; Star Trek III: The Search for Spock; TNG: "The Schizoid Man"; VOY: "Warlord"; DS9: "The Passenger", "Facets")
Some Vulcans have also demonstrated the ability known as telekinesis. (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)
The psycho-suppression system responsible for the Vulcan suppression of emotions is located in the mesiofrontal cortex. (VOY: "Meld")
Approximately every seven years, adult Vulcans must endure pon farr, the Vulcan mating period. It is marked by intense emotions and primal urges (known as plak tow, or "blood fever") that can kill the Vulcan if not satisfied. Physiological symptoms include elevated dopamine levels and fever. For such an orderly society of quiet sobriety, the madness which accompanies the outbreak of pon farr is an unavoidable evil. (ENT: "Bounty", "In a Mirror, Darkly"; TOS: "Amok Time"; VOY: "Blood Fever")