Totally nerd-ular words and phrases
May the fourth
A “religious” holiday for Star Wars fans worldwide, the fourth day of May of each year is now celebrated with copious Twitter hashtags and Facebook posts. An obvious play on “May the force be with you,” this day should be celebrated with a toast — the greener or bluer the drink, the better.
It is likely that the first mention of nanotechnology was in an 1881 story by Nikolai Leskov. But humans do have a tendency to fear things they can’t readily see (like spiders), so it’s no surprise they keep rearing their tiny heads in the genre. The most memorable modern example may be in the TV series Stargate SG-1. Several researches, including those who study cancer, are betting on these little guys to help one day deliver targeted drug treatments to people with fatal illnesses.
The word “robot” was coined by Czech writer Karel Capek in his play R.U.R. (Rossom’s Universal Robots) in 1920. Capek doesn’t take credit for the term, though. He credits his brother, painter Josef Capek as the originator. Robotics as a field of study was first introduced by fellow writer Isaac Asimov, who’s credited with the Three Laws of Robotics. These days, you can get a degree in it at MIT or be operated on by one.
Role-playing games can be played in real life in a tabletop setting, often using a game master’s narrative and chance elements like dice or cards to play. They may also be played virtually. In any case, the players “act out” the roles (through narrative in the case of tabletop play or literally, in the case of virtual play) within the narrative given, playing against each other or toward a common goal. LARP is a more extreme version of RPG.
Single-player video games may also be loosely referred to as RPG.
The meaning of life is 42
This has multiple significances in popular culture (from Lewis Carroll and beyond), but the most significant is in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s a long story, but a huge supercomputer says that the answer to the ultimate question is 42. By the time it figures out the answer (7.5 million years later), unfortunately, everyone’s forgotten the question. So they create a supercomputer called Earth to reverse-engineer the question. Just for fun, google “the answer to life the universe and everything” and see what happens.
There’s no place like 127.0.0.1
Click your ruby-red slippered heels, because there’s no place like localhost… we mean home. The localhost is your computer, which on many computer systems resolves to the address 127.0.0.1.
In a 1968 Star Trek script (“All Our Yesterdays” for you Trekkers), they introduced the term “warp speed” to mean traveling in a spacecraft faster than the speed of light (FTL). It’s still not scientifically accepted, but we’re sure it will be when they pull off traveling that fast. Warp comes from an Old English word wear, which refers to the threads running over fabric. Because space’s relation to time is often seen in terms of fabric (you’ll tear a hole in the space-time continuum if you influence past events, etc.), this is an apt analogy.
World of Warcraft is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. Similar to an RPG, they’re really, really big. People from all over the world play WoW. You’ve probably seen the commercials where Mr. T invites you to throw his special Mohawk Grenades. We’d take his advice if we were you.
Sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke came up with this geeky gem in his first novel Sands of Mars. He later called it zero g. Basically, it’s when the apparent effect of gravity is zero and objects float if they aren’t anchored. It became official terminology in the 1960s, when astronauts appropriated the term during the space race.