Pon Farr: What does 'Pon Farr' mean anyway?

Pon Farr: Unless you're a Vulcan bachelor, you don't have to worry about coming down with a case of Pon Farr.

By , Staff

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    Pon Farr: Looking for someone tall, dark and logical? If the timing is right, this Vulcan might be your man.
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Behold the power of Dilbert.

Tuesday's strip included an obscure reference to a fictional medical condition – "Pon Farr" – prompting hordes of comic strip readers to rush to Google to find out what it is, or if they might suffer from it themselves.

Relax. Unless you have pointy ears, green blood, and a penchant for raising your eyebrows, you can check Pon Farr off your list of things to worry about.

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As you may have guessed by now, it's a Star Trek reference, one that comes from what many consider to be among the greatest episodes of the original series.

In "Amok Time," an episode that first aired on September 15, 1967, Dr. McCoy notices that the usually stoic Spock is becoming extremely irritable. Turns out that he is suffering from a chemical imbalance – Pon Farr – caused by a need to mate. Vulcans experience Pon Farr every seven years, and unless it is satiated, they die within eight days.

Captain Kirk redirects the Enterprise to the planet Vulcan so that Spock can marry his betrothed, a beautiful but rather forbidding Vulcan named T'Pring. But in a twist, T'Pring manipulates the situation into a fight to the death between Spock and Kirk.

But don't worry, it all works out in the end. Kirk and Spock both survive, and Spock remains single. After all, they still had 45 more episodes and seven feature films ahead of them.

The script for "Amok Time," penned by science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon, is notable to Trekkies for being the first depiction of the Vulcan homeworld and the first use of the famous benediction, "Live long and prosper." The episode also featured the first use of the Vulcan hand symbol, which Leonard Nimoy based on a Jewish blessing.

Here's the famous fight scene between Kirk and Spock:

IN PICTURES: Famous aliens

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