Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Vulcan nerve pinch
The technique was introduced in the original series when the script called for Mr. Spock to 'pistol whip' another character. However, it was felt that this was contrary to the character established for Spock at that time, and therefore Leonard Nimoy invented the non-lethal nerve pinch.
As the series progressed, the technique was seen to be widely known amongst Vulcans. It appears to be less known among non-Vulcans: in the episode "The Omega Glory", Spock comments that he has tried and failed to teach it to James T. Kirk, but (to date) the only non-Vulcan seen unsuccessfully attempting a nerve pinch is Leonard McCoy in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, so in the strict canon of Star Trek it cannot be said for certain that the technique is exclusive to that race.
It has never been explained in on-screen canon exactly how the pinch works. Over the years fans, as well as writers in the Star Trek Expanded Universe have made a number of suggestions as to how it works.
One conjecture is that, due to the telepathic nature of Vulcans, as well as their incredible control over their own bodies, they are able to send a burst of neural energy into another being and overload its nervous system, rendering it unconscious, although the pinch does not work on all races. This explanation was rendered moot by the fact that Commander Data, an android, as well as humans Jean-Luc Picard and Jonathan Archer have also been shown doing the neck pinch.
An alternate conjecture is that it can be done by applying pressure over baroreceptors of the carotid sinus at the base of the humanoid neck.
The Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Enterprise Incident" makes reference to a Vulcan "Death" Grip, which is supposedly a more powerful, and usually lethal version of the nerve pinch. Spock pretends to use it on Captain Kirk in order to complete a mission, but the episode never makes clear whether the "Death Grip" is real or just a fabrication.
In the stage direction in Star Trek scripts, this action is referred to as "FSNP", for "Famous Spock Nerve Pinch".
"Vulcan Nerve Pinch" is also hacker slang for a keyboard combination used to reboot or otherwise interrupt a computer. A common example of this is Control-Alt-Delete for IBM PCs. See also three-finger salute.
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