To consider the question of humans in space we propose to start by looking up two terms in the dictionary: ‘human’ and ‘universe’. The first is particularly complex – so much so that we might see how fifty years of Star Trek has not cracked it. The term ‘human’ derives from the Latin word humanus, for a human being. This draws on the Latin word homo (plural homines) which means the generic man as opposed to other animals. (The Latin for man, vir, as opposed to woman, femina, are words still used in modern English when speaking of virility and femininity.)
The old Latin word homo is the source of several confusions. It connotes in one sense the ‘better qualities’ of man, and in another man’s propensity to error. The use of ‘my man’ to refer to a servant is also there in the Latin. But this ‘homo’ is not to be confused with the same word in Greek. The Latin word is the homo of Homo sapiens (the humans characterised by wisdom, prudence, sensual and metaphorical ‘taste’), but not the homo of homosexual – or, ironically, ‘homonym’ – which comes from the Greek word meaning ‘the same’. Like Latin, Greek also runs a distinction between the male ανδροσ (‘andros’) and the female γυνη (‘guneh’) – from which we might deduce that Data is indeed an android (made in the appearance of a male human) whereas his daughter Lal might more accurately have been described as a ‘gynoid’. The Greek equivalent of humanus is the generic ανθρωποσ (‘anthropos’), also the word used to signify mankind, humanity.