President Barack Obama's cool demeanor has often drawn comparisons to Mr. Spock's logical Vulcan personality on the Star Trek TV and movie series — as a simple image search for "Obama" and "Spock" will reveal. But Obama exhibited some un-Spocklike emotion in a statement paying tribute to Leonard Nimoy, the actor who created the role of Spock and passed away Friday at the age of 83:
"Long before being nerdy was cool, there was Leonard Nimoy. Leonard was a lifelong lover of the arts and humanities, a supporter of the sciences, generous with his talent and his time. And of course, Leonard was Spock. Cool, logical, big-eared and level-headed, the center of Star Trek's optimistic, inclusive vision of humanity's future.
"I loved Spock.
"In 2007, I had the chance to meet Leonard in person. It was only logical to greet him with the Vulcan salute, the universal sign for 'Live long and prosper.' And after 83 years on this planet — and on his visits to many others — it's clear Leonard Nimoy did just that. Michelle and I join his family, friends, and countless fans who miss him so dearly today."
A year after meeting Obama, Nimoy recalled the encounter and the Vulcan salute in a video clip that's available via YouTube. He said it took place during a campaign event. "This candidate came through the crowd, and saw me and said, 'I heard you were here' — and did this," Nimoy said, holding out his hand in the split-finger Vulcan greeting.
When Nimoy asked whether the candidate was Obama, Hillary Clinton or John McCain, an overwhelming proportion of the audience guessed correctly.
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