An – Az

And Now For Something Completely Different

A feature film anthology of sketches from the first two seasons of the television series Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

 

Android

An automaton in humanoid form.

 

Anij

A native of the planet Ba’ku, Anij came into contact with the crew of the starship Enterprise in 2375 AD, as shown in the 1998 motion picture Star Trek: Insurrection.  (Though a stardate is never given in the film, it has been estimated to fall in the range of 52000-32999.)  Much older than she appeared, due to naturally occurring phenomenon of metaphasic particles that surrounded her planet, Anij became the love interest of Capt. Jean-Luc Picard.

 

Animal Farm

George Orwell’s 1945 novel that follows the animals on Mr. Jones’ farm as they conspire and carry out a plan to take the farm over from human control.  According to Orwell, the book reflects events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917, and into the Stalin era.

 

Animatronics

The technology connected with the use of electronics and electromechanical devices to animate puppets or other figures.

 

Anime

A Japanese style of animation, typically characterized by futuristic settings, violence, and sexuality, using highly stylized colorful art.

 

Anthropomorphism

Giving human form and/or attributes to something not human, such as an animal or a deity.

 

Antiderivative

See Integral.

 

Antimatter

Matter that has had its electrical charge reversed.  Electrons with positive charges are called anti-electrons or “positrons,” and protons with negative charges are known as antiprotons.

 

Antivirus software

Software designed to scan computer systems and remove existing viruses.

 

Anung Un Rama

The true name of the graphic novel demon Hellboy, the name means “and upon his brow is set a crown of flame.”

 

App

See Application.

 

Apple computers

Started by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak in 1976, the company has since introduced the world to such tools as the Apple computer, the Macintosh, PageMaker, Mac OS, the PowerBook, the PDA, the iMac, the iPod, and iTunes.

 

Application

A software program that is used for business or entertainment, an application can be made up of a single executable file or hundreds of files, which may include additional software modules, configuration files and ancillary data files.  Examples of applications include web browsers, e-mail programs, spreadsheets, word processors, games, and utilities. The word “application” is used because each program has a specific application for the user, however the term specifically excludes essential control software such as the operating system.  Also known as an “app.”

 

Aquaman

Aquaman, who first appeared in DC ComicsMore Fun Comics #73 in 1941, is also known as The King of the Seven Seas and King of Atlantis. With incredible strength and energy, combined with the ability to breathe underwater, the aquatic hero, who is also known as Arthur Curry, is a member of both the Justice League of America and The Others.

 

Aragorn

A prominent figure in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Aragorn (also known as Strider, Elfstone, Elessar and Aragorn II) is the son of Arathorn and a descendant of the lost line of the ancient kings of Men, fated to one day claim the empty throne of Gondor.  A mighty warrior in defense of Helm’s Deep, he earns the respect and admiration of Théoden, King of the Rohirrim.  Aragorn’s journey forces him to face several challenges that will determine the fate of Middle-earth, on his way to being crowned King Elessar Telcontar.

In the Peter Jackson cinematic trilogy, Aragorn was portrayed by Viggo Mortensen.

 

Arda

The name for Earth in its prehistory, according to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings saga.

 

Area 51

Officially acknowledged by the CIA in August 2013 as a testing site for the government’s U-2 and OXCART aerial surveillance programs, Area 51 has been a topic of fascination for conspiracy theorists and paranormal enthusiasts since reports of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) began to emerge from the Nevada desert in the middle part of the 20th Century.  About 125 miles northwest of Las Vegas, its name has become synonymous in popular culture with government secrecy, UFOs and aliens.  In 2005, a map of the legendary area and other documents were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by Jeffrey T. Richelson, a senior fellow at the National Security Archives as part of his continuing study of aerial surveillance programs.

 

Arecibo message

The most powerful broadcast ever deliberately beamed out into space, the Arecibo was sent out from Puerto Rico following a major upgrade to the Arecibo Radio Telescope in 1974.  The transmission included a simple pictorial message aimed roughly 21,000 light-years from Earth.  The message consisted of 1,679 bits arranged into 73 lines of 23 characters each, and it was transmitted by frequency shifting at the rate of 10 bits per second.  The message included a stick figure of a human, a representation of our solar system, and the make-up of DNA.

 

ARG

See Alternate-reality game.

 

Arkham Asylum

Located in DC ComicsGotham City, Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane houses a great number of Batman’s archenemies in need of treatment.

 

Arthur, King

See Pendragon, King Arthur.

 

Artificial Intelligence

Coined in 1956 by John McCarthy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.), the term refers to an area of computer science that deals with giving machines the ability to behave as though they have human intelligence, and to perform operations such as learning and decision-making.

 

Artoo-Detoo

See R2-D2.

 

Asimov’s Corollary

See Clarke’s Laws.

 

Asterion

See Minotaur.

 

AT-AT walker

Short for “All-Terrain Armed Transport,” the four-legged combat vehicle was first seen in Star Wars –  Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.  Standing over 20 meters tall with blast-impervious armor plating, these massive constructs are used by Imperial ground forces as much for intimidating psychological effect as they are for tactical advantage.

 

Augustus

 

The first historic Roman emperor was born Gaius Octavius Thurinus on September 23 in 63 BC in Velletri, 20 miles from Rome.  He was known as “Octavius” in his youth, and as “Octavian” following his 44 BC adoption by his great-uncle Julius Caesar.  In 27 BC, the Roman Senate conferred on him the name Augustus, which means “the exalted one.”  Though Augustus never claimed the title of “emperor” for himself, he led Rome’s transformation from republic to empire during the tumultuous years following Caesar’s assassination.

Augustus’ autocratic regime is known as a principate because he took on the title of princeps, or “first citizen.”  He overhauled practically every aspect of Roman life, and combined military might, institution-building and lawmaking to become Rome’s sole ruler, laying the foundations of the Pax Romana (or Roman Peace), a 200-year era of durable peace and prosperity in the Greco-Roman world.  This was the dawn of the Roman empire, which lasted, in varying forms, for nearly 1,500 years.

Augustus’ father was a senator and governor in the Roman Republic, and his mother Atia Balba Caesonia was Caesar’s niece.  He was raised in part by his grandmother Julia Ceasaris, Caesar’s sister.  At age 16, Octavius donned the toga – the Roman sign of manhood – and began taking on responsibilities through his family connections.  In 47 BC, he left Rome for Hispania (modern-day Spain) to fight alongside Caesar.  Shipwrecked along the way and crossing enemy territory to reach his great-uncle, Octavius impressed Caesar enough to inspire the ruler to name him his heir and successor in his will.

Octavius, then 17, was at Apollonia (in present-day Albania) when the news of Caesar’s death arrived.  In his will, Caesar adopted him as a son and had made Augustus his chief personal heir.  Caesar’s allies rallied around Octavian against their powerful rival Marc Antony, but after Octavian’s troops defeated Antony’s army in northern Italy, the future emperor refused an all-out pursuit of Antony, preferring an uneasy alliance with his rival.

In 43 BC, Octavian, Antony and Marcus Aemilus Lepidus established the Second Triumvirate (the original of which Julius Caesar had been a part of before declaring power over all of Rome).  The power-sharing agreement divided Rome’s territories: Antony was given rule over the East, Lepidus Africa, and Octavian the West.  Historians mark the dawn of Octavian’s rule at either 31 BC, the year of his military victory at Actium, or 27 BC, when he was granted the name Augustus.  Over his 40-year reign, he expanded the Roman empire by conquering territory in Europe and Asia Minor, as well as forging alliances that gave him control over geography from Britan to India.

Augustus married three times.  His first marriage, to Antony’s stepdaughter Clodia Pulchra, was never consummated.  His second wife Scribonia bore his only child, Julia the Elder.  He divorced Scribonia in 39 BC to marry Livia Drusilla, former wife of Antony’s ally Tiberius Claudius Nero.  Augustus had his stepson Tiberius briefly marry his daughter, and then adopted Tiberius outright as son and successor in A.D. 4.

Augustus died in Nola (near Naples) on August 19 in 14 AD.  Like Julius Caesar before him, the Roman Senate officially declared their departed emperor a god.

In the HBO series Rome, the young Augustus was portrayed by Max Pirkis, and the adult ruler was played by Simon Woods.

 

Austin, Steve

 

Created by Martin Caidin in his 1972 novel Cyborg, Steve Austin was a test pilot who was flying an experimental aircraft when it malfunctioned and crashed, severely injuring Austin.  After the loss of his left eye, right arm and both legs, Oscar Goldman of the Office of Scientific Intelligence (OSI) recruits Dr. Rudy Wells to replace Austin’s missing limbs with bionics – the replacement of damaged human body parts with mechanical prosthetics capable of not only replacing the lost function, but enhancing it to superhuman – in the hopes of reducing field agent casualties by creating a cyborg super-agent.

Austin debuted as a television character in a 1973 made-for-TV movie entitled The Six Million Dollar Man, which spawned a 1974–78 television series.  Lee Majors portrayed Austin in both the movie and series, as well as three post-series made-for-TV movies.

 

Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR)

See Voice recognition software.

 

Automaton

  1. A mechanism constructed to act as if by its own motive power; robot.
  2. A machine or control mechanism designed to follow automatically a predetermined sequence of operations or respond to encoded instructions.

 

Azathoth

An H.P. Lovecraft character who is the accursed supreme dark god, known as the Outer God and the Boundless Daemon Sultan.  Lovecraft wrote a short piece on Azathoth in 1922, which was published posthumously in 1938.