Sci-Fi

Spock-tacular! Tech Pioneer Boosts Plan for Leonard Nimoy Memorial

Efforts to create a memorial celebrating the legacy of Leonard Nimoy, the actor who played a pointy-eared alien named Spock on “Star Trek,” have shifted to warp speed nearly eight years after his death.

A six-figure contribution from Rich Miner, the co-founder of Android, is energizing the campaign to create an illuminated 20-foot-high sculpture depicting Spock’s famous “Live Long and Prosper” hand gesture. The sculpture would be placed at Boston’s Museum of Science, near the West End neighborhood where Nimoy grew up.

Nimoy’s daughter, Julie Nimoy, and her husband David Knight are working with the museum to hit a $500,000 fundraising goal for the project. Thanks to Miner’s contribution, Knight said that the stainless-steel monument, designed and created by sculptor David Phillips, could begin taking shape as early as this year.

“We were really starting to wonder, is this going to turn into a reality?” Knight said. “To our incredible delight, somebody from the high-tech world really embraced it.”

Like Nimoy, Rich Miner is a native of the Boston area. The 58-year-old computer scientist is best known as a co-founder of Android, the mobile-device operating system that was acquired by Google in 2005. Miner also co-founded GV, Google’s first venture fund; and Wildfire Communications, a voice assistant venture that was acquired by Orange in 2000.

Miner said he was motivated to donate to the Leonard Nimoy Memorial project in part because of his Boston upbringing, but also because of the Star Trek connection.

Rich Miner (Image via LinkedIn)

“Star Trek and Spock nurtured my interest in science and technology, and inspired aspects of my startups: Wildfire, the first voice-based personal assistant, and Android (likely the OS for the tricorder in 2265),” he said in a tweet.

Knight said the precise amount of Miner’s contribution would be announced after working out how the payout would be structured. For example, the donation might be framed as a matching-fund challenge to reach the full $500,000 goal.

Miner’s backing, announced on Dec. 29, has already triggered additional support. William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk to Nimoy’s Spock on the original “Star Trek” and in a series of movie spin-offs, said in a tweet that Miner’s donation came as “wonderful news.” The fundraising campaign’s website has registered $36,625 in contributions from 500 other supporters as of today.

Knight said this could mark a turning point for the campaign, which began in 2021.

“Before, I was [thinking it was] a really nice idea, a beautiful tribute, but it just wasn’t getting the support needed. Obviously it’s the price tag. It is a big price tag,” he said. “But now we can see we’re over the hump.”

The 20-foot-tall representation of Nimoy’s “Live Long and Prosper” split-finger gesture — which was inspired by a Jewish sign of blessing that the actor recalled from his childhood — is meant to be more than a memorial to just one man.

“When people see it, they’re going to be inspired,” Knight said. “The goal is twofold: Yes, No. 1, it’s honoring Leonard’s life and legacy. But also, ‘Live Long and Prosper’ is a symbol for peace, for tolerance, for unity, for diversity. So there are some wonderful things behind it, and so many people feel this connection to the symbol.”

Clarification for March 17: An earlier version of this report mischaracterized the roles of the people behind the Leonard Nimoy Memorial project. The sculpture was designed and created by David Phillips, and Tom Stocker is the founder of the campaign to establish the memorial. As founder, Stocker began the GoFundMe grassroots fundraiser for the project and helped bring about a consensus on the concept of the Vulcan raised-hand salute, which Phillips made use of in his design.

Alan Boyle

Science writer Alan Boyle is the creator of Cosmic Log, a veteran of MSNBC.com and NBC News Digital, and the author of "The Case for Pluto." He's based in Seattle, but the cosmos is his home.

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