The Vulcan/Human Hybrid

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Title: The Vulcan/Human Hybrid
Date(s): 1976, 1977
Medium: panel discussion, recorded audio, then print re-cap
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
Topic: Vulcan Biology and Physiology
External Links:
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The Vulcan/Human Hybrid is a May 1977 written transcript of a panel discussion that was originally held at SeKWester*Con in April 1976.

first page of the four page transcript

The original panelists were Joan Verba, Paula Smith, and the referee was Mike Amsden.

The transcript was printed in the program book for 1977's SeKWester*Con, Too.

The Topic

Was Spock the only human-Vulcan hybrid? Is his existence even biologically possible?

See: Vulcan Biology and Physiology.

Excerpts from the Panel Discussion Transcription

Verba: [Amanda] probably went into the relationship with an attitude of "it's impossible"— granted, Amanda has to get help ASAP, because, as Paula says, he is mostly Vulcan. Of course she'll need help. Once his circulatory system develops, he'll need transfusions. But mostly Vulcan is okay, too -- genes come in pairs.

Smith: Vulcans' are in triples.

Verba: Right. One of Amanda's and one or two of Sarek's, okay. Only one of a pair is read quite often, it just means the DNA reader's only reading half of a pair, the Vulcan half. It doesn't conflict.

Smith:... Spock is extremely Vulcan in makeup--he can do almost all the things peculiar to Vulcans and very few that are peculiar to humans. Therefore, Spock is structurally Vulcan. If he were half and half, why is he not more physically human? DNA-reading works across a broad spectrum of life, and I agree that it's the only thing that makes Spock possible. We can all agree that Spock is a mammal--he has a constant body temperature, he has a heart, we can suppose Vulcan females lactate (they have breasts, apparently). We'll grant that Spock is a mammal--

Verba: I'll grant you that.

Smith: Oh, thank you. Joan has said that so many things can go wrong; the rate is one in five natural miscarriages in humans alone. It is impossible to believe that two accidentally matched Vulcan and humans would not create something Cyclopean, something without arms, legs, heart, brain...

Audience member: Thank God they didn't give Spock brothers and sisters--it would've been worse.

Smith: It's just improbable to believe he could get past all the early stages by himself. It doesn't happen in nature--the offspring is either sterile or it doesn't get past gestation. The structural differences are too great to be accidentally joined together. Spock must be tailored, he is too improbable to be otherwise. If so, he must be an experiment, and so must be gestated in mechano to obtain information. True, it must be as natural as possible, or it will fail, but you do monitor the chemical environment.

Audience member: Are you saying Spock is the first?

Smith: I'm saying he's the only.

Audience member: Well, it is said that Sarek and Amanda's marriage is rare, not --

Smith: You don't have to be married to make babies.

Audience member: Who said Spock is the only one?

Smith: It's not said, it's implied. People are amazed to see him -- "half-Vulcanian?."

Audience Member: You could get artificial conception -- they have crossed cabbages with radishes... I think they got the leaves of a radish and the roots of a cabbage. Why not have a transplant into a Vulcan female? A rabbit carried a monkey fetus for 9 months in 1969.

Verba: Let Paula answer that one on her time. I just want to repeat that unlikely does not mean impossible. Paula's arguments won't shoot mine down.


Smith: I must say that you haven't shot down my arguments either.

Verba: Okay.

Smith: To begin with, because it is so unlikely, one chance in two octillion--

Verba: Please break that down.

Smith: Alrighty. You can read it in HALKAN COUNCIL--

Verba: There aren't even that many electrons in the galaxy!

Smith: Number 14--

Verba: Break it down again.

Smith: 2 X 10 [to the 27 power].

Verba: No, no. Where do you get that?

Smith: I only have five minutes!

Verba: Does that include chances of Mommy and Daddy getting together?

Smith: Partly, but mostly because Spock is such a successful hybrid. It makes him so terribly improbable. The point is, I concede that Spock can be carried in the womb, but what is the reason? I do not think he can be an accident--improbable and physically successful; I cannot see that all genes are, just by chance, dominated by the Vulcan genes. I cannot believe all these things because they violate so many chemical, physiological and metabolic observations we have made. I cannot see that Spock was not tailored--too many difficulties. Spock must be helped over the first difficult parts, the blastula, the spinal plate, etc. Hall, after that you can bounce him off a wall, you can put him in a tin can. Nature will take its course. If you get him past that stage, you can do anything. But getting him past it is so improbable that I do not accept it. I do not believe that anyone who has studied biology -- including you, Joan -- can accept that.

Verba: Well, I can and I do!

Amsden: I have some thoughts that go along with both sides and neither. First--if we postulate it's possible, we have to say Spock is a diploid, he carries all Vulcan genetic material and all human—getting past all the cellular chemical problems, which is cooperating with what. I can't possibly fathom that, but getting past that, I think maybe this could work, I can't think of it being mechanical gestation because of the telepathic influence. On a cellular basis there is a copper problem; all the salts are different, we know that from Mantrap. Jean Lorrah's got a point about Amanda being post-genetic-warfare on Earth--she wouldn't go along with it.

Smith: It's been a long time since that.

Amsden: It's been a long time since the Civil War, too. But I've said this all the time, to patients--genetically, as far as people go, anything is possible. It's going to be a long time--we may not see it now or know how to measure it. My feeling is that it doesn't matter whether it's possible or not, Spock is given for dramatic purposes. We need him.


Audience Member: It's very simple: Spock was adopted. - The problem is, we're using 200-year-old techniques - It's the only thing we've got! - But the knowledge is all out of date. - Have Franz Joseph do a medical text. He'd probably just take out Gray's Anatomy and start copying.

Amsden: Oddly enough, that probably still would be accurate. Leonardo DaVinci's anatomies are still adequate. - But you couldn't do an operation from them. - Yes, you could. The subjects were human specimens, just like us. - What are the odds that Procounsul would result in human beings? - Life is capable of making sudden shifts.

((General discussion and agreement that the ST makers painted themselves into a corner on this one.))