B – Bm

B.C.E./BCE

See Before the Common Era.

 

Back door

Means of gaining access to computers and hidden functions in computer programs by entering little-known codes.   Also known as a “trap door.”

 

Back door program

Computer program designed to access data and contents of a computer by bypassing security measures.

 

Back up

To make a copy of a file or program as security against damage or loss of the original.

 

Back-up/Backup

A copy of a file or program, created as security against damage or loss of the original.

 

Backmasking

A recording technique in which sounds or speech is recorded in reverse, meant to be heard backward as the track is played in its normal forward manner.

 

Backup and restore utility

A utility that allows a user to back up their files, and also offers the option of restoring the computer data to a specified former state, known as a restore point.  The restore function undoes changes made after the restore point to the computer’s systems.

 

Backup utility

A program that creates copies of data to store apart from their originals for safekeeping.

 

Backward compatibility

The ability to use a newer component, program or system with older equipment or previous versions of software.

 

Backward compatible

A component, program or system that is compatible with older equipment or previous versions of software.

 

Backward masking

See Backmasking.

 

Badger

A secondary character on the television series Firefly, Badger was one of the crew’s contacts on the moon Persephone.  The minor crime mastermind first appeared in the series’ pilot episode “Serenity,” and then reappeared in the episode “Shindig.”  Badger, a self-proclaimed “honest businessman” can be friend or foe to any party, and his viewpoint has a habit of turning on the smallest of details.  Although Badger cannot be completely trusted, he provides enough work for the crew of the off-the-radar cargo ship that Capt. Malcolm Reynolds is willing to do business with him on occasion.  Badger is clearly a criminal, but he views himself as a businessman and “better than” Mal and other smugglers who do not have a base of operations.  Although series creator Joss Whedon has stated that he originally wrote the character with the intention of playing the role himself, Badger was portrayed by Mark Sheppard.

 

Baldur’s Gate (game)

An award-winning role-playing game of mystery, intrigue, and adventure released in 1998.

 

Baldur’s Gate (game setting)

A metropolis and city-state on the Sword Coast and Western Heartlands border, on the north bank of the river Chionthar, this wealthy port metropolis is an important merchant city on the Sword Coast.

 

Bambi Meets Godzilla

A 1969 short film by Marv Newland that has over the years achieved cult status.

 

Bandersnatch

A fierce, fast-moving mythical creature, created by Lewis Carroll in his 1871 novel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There.

 

Bandwidth

In general, the capacity of an electronic communications device or system, such as a computer network, to send and receive information.  In particular since the advent of the internet, it refers to the volume of information that a transmission medium, such as an internet connection, can handle in a given unit of time.  Also known as data transfer rate.

 

Banner, Dr. Bruce

Nuclear physicist and alter-ego of Marvel Comics’ The Hulk (also known as The Incredible Hulk).  While supervising a trial explosion of an experimental gamma-ray bomb that he designed, Bruce ran onto the testing site to push a teenager out of harm’s way.  Banner survived the bomb blast, but was irradiated with gamma rays, which transformed him into the raging Hulk.  At first, he changed into the Hulk only at night, but eventually, the change became triggered by adrenaline, so whenever Banner was upset, the Hulk would emerge.

 

Banner, Dr. David Bruce

The main character and alter-ego of The Incredible Hulk in the 1978-82 TV series of the same name.  Originally named “Bruce Banner” in the comic book series that inspired the show, the producers felt “David” was a more masculine name, so they made “Bruce” his middle name.  Banner was portrayed by actor Bill Bixby.

 

Banquo

A Scottish general who fights alongside his friend and king in Shakespeare’s 1606 play Macbeth, Banquo’s role in the original source (Holinshed’s Chronicles, a history of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1587)) was as Macbeth’s co-conspirator. In Shakespeare’s play, he is depicted instead as Macbeth’s rival, with the role of fellow plotter transferred to Lady Macbeth. Like Macbeth (who reigned over Scotland 1040-57), Banquo is open to human yearnings and desires.  Banquo is also guided by resentment and ambition, but he is, in the end, a sympathetic figure, and it is Banquo’s ghost who haunts and torments Macbeth.  In Billy Morrissette’s 2001 modernized adaptation, Scotland, Pa., Anthony “Banko” Banconi is portrayed by Kevin Corrigan.

 

Barnes, “Bucky”

See Barnes, James Buchanan “Bucky”.

 

Barnes, James Buchanan “Bucky”

Created by writer Joe Simon and artist Jack Kirby, “Bucky” Barnes was the sidekick of Timely Comics’ (and eventually Marvel Comics’) central hero Captain America.  Making his first appearance in Captain America #1 in March 1941, Bucky (who was named for a childhood friend of Simon’s) started out as a sort of Army mascot at Camp Lehigh, where he was tagged with his nickname.  A natural fighter, he was sent to train in England, then became the sidekick of Captain America.  After several successful missions together, tragedy would strike when a bomb exploded on a plane while the heroes were aboard.  Cap’s body would be frozen in the icy waters, to be revived decades later, but as far as the readers were told, Bucky’s body simply vanished.  During the readership decline of the late 1940s, Bucky was “replaced” by Betsy Ross (Golden Girl) as she became Cap’s partner.  Making a brief appearance in the 1950s, the character of Bucky would be dormant after September 1954.

In the Silver Age resurgence of superheroes, Captain America returned as a central hero, but Bucky was reported as killed by the bomb, appearing only in flashback scenes.  However, in a Modern Age retroactive continuity, Bucky’s character was restored.  In the retcon version, after the bomb exploded, a Soviet spy submarine in the area recovered Bucky’s body, which was highly damaged and.  Reviving his lifeless body, the Soviets replaced his missing left arm with a cybernetic version, which could throw far, produce electromagnetic pulses, jam metal detectors and x-rays, and produce electrical shocks.  The arm was upgraded by Nick Fury to a more realistic-looking fully synthetic version, and it can also be mentally controlled by Bucky via implants, even if it is separated from his body.  In order to save his life, Bucky was also injected with Infinity Formula by Nick Fury.  The long-term effects of this injection are undetermined.  Codenamed The Winter Soldier, Bucky was loyal only to the Soviets, sent out on espionage and assassination missions.  After a few years of active duty, the Soviets put the Winter Soldier in a suspended state until he re-emerged decades later.  After battling with Captain America, Cap used the Cosmic Cube to restore Bucky’s memories, after which Bucky destroyed the Cube and disappeared.  All but Captain America believed him to be dead.  He would eventually replace Steve Rogers as Captain America, joining the New Avengers.

In the cinematic releases Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War, Bucky is portrayed by Sebastian Stan.  Stan’s Bucky also made a cameo appearance in Ant-Man, and he is slated to reprise the role in the upcoming film Avengers: Infinity War.

 

Base 10

The numbering system that we commonly use every day, Base 10 involves slots for each power of the number 10, and there are ten numbers (0 through 9) which can appear in each slot.  10 to the 0 power is the ones column, 10 to the 1 power is the tens column, 10 to the 2 power is the hundreds column, and so on.  Each number tells us how many of each power we have, and together, the digits in the columns combine to tell us the number.  In Base 10, negative numbers in the exponent, or the number which tells us which power of 10 is being used, denote decimal places behind (to the right) of the decimal point, which is a different form of fractions.

 

Base station (BS)

See Base transceiver station (BTS).

 

Base transceiver station (BTS)

A piece of network equipment – consisting of transceivers, duplexers, amplifiers, and antennas that relay radio messages – designed to facilitate wireless communication between a device and a network.  Also known as a base station (BS), radio base station (RBS) or node B (eNB).

 

Batarang

   

A common weapon in Batman, Robin and Batgirl’s arsenal, the sharp metal throwing weapons can be used to attach ropes to buildings for climbing, or to disarm criminals.

 

Batcave

Located deep beneath Wayne Manor, the Batcave is Batman’s headquarters.  Filled with computer banks and scientific equipment, it is also the secret parking spot for the Batmobile.

 

Batcopter

Debuting in the 1966 feature film Batman, it is the quickest way around Gotham City for The Caped Crusader.

 

Batcycle

Debuting in the 1966 television series Batman, the Batcycle originally featured a sidecar made especially for Robin to ride in.  The modern version, seen in The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, featured a super-sized front wheel.

Batgirl

Debuting in Detective Comics #359, Batgirl is the prodigy of Batman, and a competent fighter, whether she is at his side or on her own.  An exceptional fighter and detective, Batgirl is also equipped with superior computer skills, not to mention a utility belt of weapons and her own Batcycle!  On the small screen, Batgirl/Barbara Gordon was portrayed by Yvonne Craig on the 1966-68 series Batman, and on the big screen, she has been portrayed by Alicia Silverstone (Batman and Robin).

Batman

Batman (also known as Bat Man, The Batman, The Caped Crusader, and The Dark Knight) is a character created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger that first appeared in Detective Comics Issue # 27 in May 1939.  From there, Batman has become one of the most recognizable characters in print, television and film.  As the backstory tells, millionaire Bruce Wayne was just a child when he witnessed his parents, prominent Gotham City doctor Thomas Wayne and his wife Martha, get gunned down during a mugging.  After this traumatic experience, he dedicated himself to becoming the world’s greatest weapon against crime.  A brilliant detective and masterful fighter, Batman is a rare superhero in that he has no real “powers,” but is just as feared in the criminal world as those who do.  The only people who know Batman’s true identity are his family butler Alfred Pennyworth, and, as was developed in the storyline, a sidekick named Robin.  The first Robin was orphaned circus acrobat Dick Grayson, who, after leaving to attend college, would become a rebellious superhero on his own called Nightwing.  The second Robin, a young street kid by the name of Jason Todd, was more defiant (and less liked by readers) than Grayson, and he was eventually murdered by The Joker.  Tim Drake would become the third Robin.  Batman is a prominent member of the Justice League of America (JLA), and is also associated with Batgirl (Barbara Gordon, daughter of Commissioner James Gordon, also a close ally.  In addition to The Joker, Batman has gone up against many colorful criminal personae throughout his crime-fighting career, such as Catwoman, The Penguin, The Riddler, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, and Ra’s Al-Ghul.  Eventually, the beastly Bane broke Bruce Wayne’s back during a fight, and while Bruce recovered from his injuries, the antihero Azrael took over as Batman, but as he became more and more unstable – to the point of executing criminals – Bruce managed to take down Azrael and reclaim his protective duties as Batman.

 

Batmanuel

Macho-though-cautious character from the 2001 live-action version of The Tick, loosely based on the Die Fledermaus character from the 1994 cartoon series of the same name.

 

Batmobile

Built for the Batman TV show, George Barris used his 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car as the shell of the Batmobile.  Since then, various versions have been built for and seen in Batman movies, as well as drawn for cartoons.  Over 45 years later, the 1966 Batmobile is still one of the most iconic and popular cars in the world.

 

Battle of the Planets

The anime TV series Battle of the Planets, released one year after the original Star Wars, was marketed to capitalize on the film’s momentum.  Most footage for the 1978-85 series came from an existing Japanese series known predominantly as Gatchaman, but the series content was tweaked for an American audience (namely, a reduction in violent scenes).  To offset the removed content, the robot character 7-Zark-7 (again, borrowing from the popularity of Star Wars droids C-3PO and R2-D2) was added and used to tie the altered storylines together.

 

Battle of Yavin, The

In the Star Wars universe, The Battle of Yavin occurred at the end of the original film Episode IV: A New Hope, and the climactic end of the battle occurred when the rebel fleet destroyed the first Death Star.  Because of the battle’s significance, fans have used it as a dating system for other Star Wars events, dating them Before the Battle of Yavin (BBY) or After the Battle of Yavin (ABY). This became an in-universe calendar system used by the New Republic.

 

BattleTech

A science fiction tactical wargame in which players maneuver giant fighting robots, called “BattleMechs,” or “‘Mechs,” against each other or against vehicles and/or infantry.  Players can choose from provided designs, or take the time to create their own ‘Mechs from scratch. The base game has been reprinted in many different editions, and an extensive line of pewter figurines.

 

Batwoman

Created during the Silver Age of Comics, Batwoman was the alter-ego of Kathryn (“Kathy” or “Kate”) Kane, who was inspired to fight crime after Batman saved her from a mugger.  Appearing very rarely in the original DC Comics of Batman comics, the character was killed off when she was fatally stabbed in 1979.  Re-emerging in modern storylines, Batwoman became the center of controversy when she was given a lesbian background and a domestic partner.  Writers of the comic line quit after DC halted a planned gay wedding storyline.

 

BBY

See Battle of Yavin, The.

 

Beagle, Peter S.

American author of novels, nonfiction, and screenplays, but particularly fantasy fiction.  His works include The Last Unicorn, which was made into a popular 1982 animated film.

 

Beat ‘em up

Popular name of the genre of video games in which the main activity is fighting.  Games in this genre include ​Street Fighter and ​Double Dragon.

 

Before the Common Era (B.C.E./BCE)

Used interchangeably with “Before Christ” or “B.C.,” the calendar term is preferred by many because it removes any religious points of reference.  It has been found in English writings as far back as 1708.

 

Bekenstein-Hawking radiation

See Hawking radiation.

 

Bellerophon

Also known as Hipponous and Bellerophontes (“Slayer of Belleros” or “Wielder of Missiles,” according to different sources), Bellerophon was the son of Eurynome [wife of Glaucus of Korinthos (Corinth)] and the Greek god Poseidon, as well as the grandson of Sisyphus.  He is said to have received his name from having slain a noble Corinthian named Belleros.  Glaucus raised the boy believing Bellerophon to be his own son, and considering that both Poseidon and Glaucus were interested in horses, it is not surprising that Bellerophon grew to hunt the winged horse PegasusAfter dreaming that the goddess Athena offered him a magical golden bridle, Bellerophon woke to find that very item in his hands.  He went to the meadow Pegasus was grazing in, and was able to bridle and tame the horse without difficulty.  After this successful quest, he went to King Pittheus and received permission to marry the king’s daughter Aethra, but before the wedding, the hero accidentally killed a man and was banished.  He went to King Proetus of Argos to be excused for his crime.  The king pardoned him, but during Bellerophon’s stay at Proetus’ house, the king’s wife Stheneboea attempted to seduce him.  An honorable man, Bellerophon rejected her advances, but the infuriated queen falsely accused him of attempting to seduce her.  Enraged but concerned about harming a house guest (which was an offense to the gods), Proetus sent Bellerophon to deliver a sealed message to his wife’s father, King Iobates of Lycia.  Arriving on Pegasus, Bellerophon was warmly received and settled in as Iobates’ house guest.  Iobates unsealed and read the message, which told of Stheneboea’s accusations against Bellerophon.  This left Iobates in the same predicament regarding harming a guest.  His solution was to ask Bellerophon to undertake a series of heroic but deadly tasks.

His first task was to kill the terrible fire-breathing winged Chimera, which had the head and body of a lion, the head of a goat on its back, and a serpent for a tail.  Bellerophon fixed lead to the point of his lance and thrust it into the monster’s fire-breathing mouth, and the resulting molten lead killed the beast.  Successful, he was next sent to conquer Iobates’ enemy, the neighboring Solymi tribe.  When he defeated them, the King sent Bellerophon to fight the Amazons, and he was again victorious.  In desperation, Iobates led his own army to ambush Bellerophon, but his entire army was killed.

Unfortunately for both kings, Bellerophon’s courage and skill as an archer, combined with Pegasus’ help, allowed him to prevail in his tasks.  In addition, his parentage, sacrifices and acts of honor gave him favor among the gods.  When Iobates realized that the gods favored Bellerophon and that this favor would not have been given to a dishonorable house guest, he succeeded in making amends by giving Bellerophon half of his kingdom and his daughter Philonoe’s hand in marriage.  His new son-in-law’s glorious deeds were widely sung, he was happily married, and Philonoe bore him two sons (Isander and Hippolochus) and two daughters (Laodameia and Deidameia).  As a king, Bellerophon’s subjects loved and honored him.  It appeared that he was destined to live happily ever after.

However, this was not enough for Bellerophon.  In his arrogance, he decided that he was worthy enough to ride Pegasus up Mount Olympus to visit the gods.  Zeus quickly put an end to his trip by sending a gadfly to sting Pegasus and dismount Bellerophon.  He survived his fall, but was crippled.  He spent the rest of his life wandering the earth.  No man would help him because of his offense to the gods.  He died alone with no one to record his fate.

 

Benvolio

In William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Benvolio is Romeo’s cousin and close confidante.  Among the youthful combatants in both the Montague and Capulet families, Benvolio (whose name means “good will”) is the peacekeeper and the voice of reason.  On screen, he has been portrayed by Bruce Robinson (1968) and Dash Mihok (1996).

 

Betamax

Betamax was videocassette recording technology originally developed in Japan by Sony.  Physically smaller than a VHS cassette, the Betamax tape took a more direct path through the recording and playback apparatus, so the recording and playback operations were faster and more convenient.  In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the VHS and Betamax formats became competitive, but ultimately, VHS captured the home video recording and reproduction market.  Though some engineers believe that Betamax offered better quality than VHS, Betamax tapes wore faster and Betamax became essentially obsolete among consumers in the United States by 1993. The last Betamax machine for the Japanese consumer market was manufactured in 2002.

 

Big Bang Theory, The

A popular scientific explanation of how the universe began.  Based on mathematical theory and models, at its core, this theory states that the universe as we know it started out as a small singularity (or a point at which a function takes an infinite value) that inflated over the next 13.8 billion years to become the cosmos that we know today.  Astronomers say that they can see the “echo” of the expansion through a phenomenon known as the cosmic microwave background, or CMB.  The theory states that in the first second after the universe began, the cosmos contained a vast array of fundamental particles such as neutrons, electrons and protons, and that these particles eventually decayed or combined as the universe got cooler.  According to NASA scientists, this early “soup” would have been impossible to look at, because light could not carry inside of it.  “The free electrons would have caused light (photons) to scatter the way sunlight scatters from the water droplets in clouds.”  Over the next 380,000 years, however, the free electrons met up with nuclei and created neutral atoms, and this allowed light to shine through.

 

“Big Blue”

A common colloquial name referring to business machine manufacturing giant International Business Machines (IBM).  While there is no information that definitively states the origin of this nickname, one theory, substantiated by people who worked for the firm, is that IBM field representatives coined the term in the 1960s, referring to the color of the mainframes IBM installed in the 1960s and early 1970s.  Another theory suggests that “Big Blue” simply refers to the IBM’s logo, which typically features a blue background. A third theory suggests that the term refers to a former company dress code that required many IBM employees to wear only blue suits.

 

Big Brother

Ominous, foreboding, ever-present, ever-watching representation of the government in George Orwell’s dystopic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, and the film version of the story, released fittingly in 1984.

 

Binary

Anything involving, relating to, using, or expressed in a system of numerical notation that has 2 rather than 10 as a base.  Typically, these two number representatives are 0 (which can mean “off”) and 1 (or “on”).

 

Binary digit

See Bit.

 

Bit
Short for “binary digit,” a bit is the smallest unit of measurement used to quantify computer data.  One bit contains one binary value of 0 or 1.

 

Bitmap
A piece of text, drawing, or other image represented by the activation of certain dots (known as “bits” or “pixels”) in a rectangular matrix of dots, as on a computer display.  Bitmap files are typically identified by the extension “.bmp.”

 

Bizarro

  

Debuting in Superboy #68 (1958), Bizarro (also known as Bizarro Superman) is an imperfect clone of Superman.  He possesses all of the hero’s amazing abilities (including super strength, flight, invulnerability, super speed, heat vision, freeze breath, x-ray vision, superhuman hearing, healing factor), but none of his moral limitations.  The uncontrollable villain rampages through the world, causing mass devastation and destruction, his twisted perspective making him as committed to causing violence as Superman is to stopping it.  His faulty logic, broken speech and backward morality makes it impossible for him to see his actions as wrong.  Instead, he whole-heartedly believes he is acting in the correct manner, and that it is the Man of Tomorrow who is committing acts of villainy.

 

Bizarro Superman

See Bizarro.

 

Black Canary

First appearing in Flash Comics #86 in 1947, Black Canary is one of DC Comics’ first superheroines.  Armed with superior martial arts skills and an ultrasonic vocal cry, the costume of this black-clad, street smart vigilante has been donned by a few different characters over the years, but is most associated with Dinah Laurel Lance.  Her ultrasonic scream has the precision to crumble objects and incapacitate foes.

 

Black Speech

One of the languages of Arda in J.R.R. Tolkien‘s stories of Middle-earth’s prehistory, spoken in the realm of Mordor.

 

Blade Runner

Based on the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the 1982 Ridley Scott-directed sci-fi adventure about human “replicants” starred Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer.

 

“Blind” Pew

Originally a character with no first name in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, Harvey “Blind” Pew is a beggar, pirate and informant with “acute ‘earing” portrayed by Monty Python alum John Cleese in the 1983 film Yellowbeard.

 

Bluetooth

A wireless and automatic method of connecting electronic devices using radio waves instead of wires or cables.  Bluetooth products include tiny computer chips that contain a Bluetooth radio and software that makes them easy to connect to one another.  Communication between Bluetooth devices happens over short-range networks known as “piconets,” which are networks of Bluetooth devices that are established automatically as Bluetooth devices enter and leave radio proximities.