F – Fm


Radioactive particles produced by a nuclear explosion that descend back to the ground through the atmosphere via gravity.  The term “fallout” is also commonly used to denote a bad effect, result or aftermath of an event.


Family Guy

Described as “Sick, twisted, politically incorrect and freakin’ sweet,” the Fox animated series features the adventures of the Griffin family: Peter Griffin (clueless, overweight, bad with money), Lois Griffin (hopeless mother with a dirty side to her), Chris Griffin (out of shape, low IQ and no common sense), Meg Griffin (who desperately tries to be part of the popular crowd and win her family’s approval, but consistently fails at both goals), baby Stewie Griffin (a brilliant, sadistic, full-vocabulary, inexplicably British baby bent on killing his mother and world domination), and their biped talking dog Brian Griffin (who typically ends up being the voice of reason for the entire family). Twice cancelled by the network and twice restarted due to high DVD sales, the series has run from 1999 to the present (except for missing all of 2004), Family Guy has won 3 Emmy awards and 3 Annie awards.


Fan service

In the anime/manga art world, content added specifically to excite the viewer.  The term typically refers to scantily-clad female characters, shots of panties or cleavage, and nude/shower scenes, but it can also include mecha, big explosions and battle scenes.



Original stories involving popular characters and plotlines from movies, TV series or other popular media, written by the fans.  Popularly posted on the internet on websites designed for that purpose.


Fantastic Four, The

After being exposed by cosmic rays during a space flight, Reed Richards, siblings Susan and Johnny Storm, and Ben Grimm discovered that they had developed strange abilities.  Reed’s body became completely stretchable and pliable.  Susan could turn herself, objects, and other people invisible.  Johnny could turn his body into a burning flame at will.  Ben had been transformed into a rock-like giant with super strength.  Popularly known thereafter as Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, The Human Torch and The Thing (respectively), the team uses their talents to defend citizens from villains.  The characters were created by Stan Lee for Marvel Comics as competition for DC Comics’ Justice League, and they have been portrayed in three theatrical films to date.  See DC Comics; Grimm, Ben; Justice League of America; Lee, Stan; Marvel Comics; Richards, Reed; Thing, The.



Colloquial term used to describe the culture and events for fans of movies, TV shows, celebrities and other entities.



A magazine, website or other form of periodical written and produced by and for fans of a particular person, group or other popular interest.


Far Side, The


An outrageous and unique comic strip originally launched in 1980 in the San Francisco Chronicle by creator Gary Larson, the popular and often misunderstood series eventually ran for the next 15 years in over 1,900 newspapers.  In the process of gaining readership, the strip was also dropped from a handful of papers for being “too weird.”  The Far Side was a spin-off from Larson’s previous strip, Nature’s Way, a comic strip with a focus on animals.  Animals played a major part throughout the surreal, random, and occasionally very dark strip, run, as well.  Many panels involved talking cows, apes, dogs or insects.  The Far Side is still produced in collections and on shirts, mugs, calendars and other products.  See Larson, Gary; Thagomizer.



See Pan.


Fett, Boba

Appearing in Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope, Star Wars – Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, and Star Wars – Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, as well as various specials and animated series, Boba Fett is the genetic clone of Jango Fett, who raised Boba as his “son.”  He learned combat and martial arts at a young age, and grew to be the galaxy’s most effective bounty hunter.  Accepting contracts from the Empire as well as underworld sources, Boba Fett wore customized Mandalorian armor and utilized various weapons on his hunts.  See Mandalorian; Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope.


Fiber optic cable

A technology that uses glass or plastic threads (known as fibers) to transmit data.  A fiber optic cable consists of a bundle of glass threads, each of which is capable of transmitting messages modulated onto light waves.

Advantages of fiber optic cables over traditional metal communications lines include:

  1. a much greater bandwidth than metal cables, allowing them to carry more data
  2. less susceptible than metal cables to interference
  3. much thinner and lighter than metal wires
  4. data can be transmitted digitally(the natural form for computer data) rather than analogically

The main disadvantages of fiber optics are that they are expensive to install, more fragile than wire, and difficult to splice.  Still, fiber optics is a particularly popular technology for local-area networks (or LANs).  Telephone companies are steadily replacing traditional telephone lines with fiber optic cables, and it is estimated that in the near future, almost all communications will employ fiber optics.  See Computer; Local area network (LAN).



In an alternate 1950s America, years after a comet that passed through the atmosphere turned all corpses into the living dead and continues to re-animate the newly-dead, zombies have become domesticated servants.  Kept from eating the flesh of the living via obedience collars, the Robinsons’ new zombie Fido becomes Timmy’s best friend, and when trouble arises, his protector.  The 2006 dark comedy stars Billy Connolly, K’Sun Ray, Carrie-Anne Ross and Henry Czerny.


File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

Protocol used to transfer files throughout the internet, commonly used to make files available for others to download.  FTP can also be used to upload webpages and digital photos.  See Internet.


Fillion, Nathan


Fillion studied at the University of Alberta toward a teaching career, however, just months short of graduating, he could not pass up the opportunity to take up a role in the ABC soap opera One Life to Live.  He proved very popular as Joey Buchanan and was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award, as well as a Soap Opera Digest Award, for “Outstanding Young Actor” in 1996.  After three years in the role, on the advice of a mentor, Fillion moved to Los Angeles to pursue further career opportunities.  The move proved fruitful and gained him roles in the films Saving Private Ryan, Blast From the Past, and Dracula 2000.  A recurring guest role on Two Guys and a Girl as the lovable Johnny Donnelly was so popular, Fillion was hired on as a regular cast member.  When that show ended, Fox gave Fillion a talent-holding deal, which led to the leading role in Firefly in 2003.  While Firefly was short lived (only 14 episodes were filmed, and only 11 of those aired), it quickly became a cult hit.  The fan response was so strong, the series was released on DVD, and in 2005, the movie Serenity, based on the Firefly series, was released by Universal. Also following Firefly’s cancellation, Fillion played the villain Caleb in the final five episodes of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series in 2003.  On the big screen, Serenity was followed up by leading roles in the quirky horror film Slither and the supernatural suspense thriller White Noise 2: The Light.  Reuniting with Firefly/Serenity and Buffy’s Joss Whedon, Fillion played Captain Hammer, the comedic villain in the short internet film Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog.  Since 2009, Fillion has been working steadily on the ABC drama Castle, playing a mystery/horror novelist who is called on by the NYPD to help solve crimes after a copy-cat murderer commits crimes based on scenes from his novels. Castle is now in its 5th season.  Off-screen, Fillion’s generosity and kindness have earned him a reputation for being one of Hollywood’s nicest actors, and have endeared him to directors, cast mates, crew members, and fans alike.  See Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV series); Firefly; Whedon, Joss.



Tongue-in-cheek self-imposed nickname for fans of Nathan Fillion.  See Fillion, Nathan.


Finagle’s Law

Fully named “Finagle’s Law of Dynamic Negatives,” it is a “folk” version of Murphy’s Law, and usually stated as “Anything that can go wrong, will.”  One variant favored among hackers is “The perversity of the universe tends toward a maximum.”  The label “Finagle’s Law” was popularized by science fiction author Larry Niven in several stories depicting a frontier culture of asteroid miners; this “Belter” culture professed a religion and/or running joke involving the worship of the dread god Finagle and his mad prophet Murphy.


Final Fantasy

Released in 1987 for the Nintendo Game System, Final Fantasy featured customizable characters, equipment, and magic.  The object of the game was for the Light Warriors to save the world from four elemental fiends and their leader Chaos.  The game has since been re-released on various other formats including Playstation, Android and Wii, and the game series inspired a motion picture, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, released in 2001.


Financial planning software

With various packages and formats available from competing companies, financial planning software can be used by the consumer to keep track of bank account balances, to save for specific goals (such as buying a car or house), and to plan and save for retirement.



2002-03 Fox television series created by Joss Whedon, Firefly featured the adventures of the crew and passengers of a cargo spaceship, as they sought to obtain paying transport jobs.  This was constantly made difficult, as the crew and some of its passengers wished to remain under the radar of the overbearing Alliance governmental system, as well as the cannibalistic Reavers.  Though the show was cancelled after only 11 episodes aired, a campaign by the fans inspired the theatrically released film Serenity, which followed up the crew’s television adventures.  See Fillion, Nathan; Reynolds, Capt. (Sgt.) Malcolm; Tam, River; Tam, Simon; Whedon, Joss.



The primary method for keeping a computer secure from intruders, a firewall filters (allows or blocks) traffic into and out of a private network or a user’s computer, blocking known threats while allowing only trusted data to flow through it.  It can be a stand-alone machine, as a large corporation might use to protect all of its computers, but software firewalls are more common for individual users.  Using a combination of rules to filter traffic, a firewall can also restrict outgoing traffic, to prevent spam or hacking attempts.  Some firewalls can even “learn” over time, developing their own filtering rules and blocking unwanted connections without any manual customization.  See Computer; Hacker.


First-person shooter (FPS)

A genre of action video game that is played from the point-of-view of the player’s character, so the character itself is not seen moving on the screen, but rather the scene around the character is shown, and what is seen shifts as the player moves the character, exactly as if the player were in the scene himself.


Fischer, Bobby

The first American grandmaster of chess was born on March 9, 1943 in Chicago.  He first learned the game of chess at age 6, and by the age of 13, he had won the U.S. junior championship.  At 14, he won his first of eight U.S. championships, winning the championship tournament every year he entered.  His performance in the 1963-1964 U.S championship was particularly noteworthy as he swept the field with 11 wins, no losses and no draws.  In 1958, at the age of fifteen, Fischer placed fifth at the Interzonal tournament in Portoroz, Yugoslavia (now part of Slovenia), and was awarded the title of International Grandmaster.  At the time, he was the youngest person in history to receive the revered title, and he left school at 16 to pursue chess full-time.

During his meteoric rise in the chess community, Fischer was no stranger to controversy.  After the 1962 Candidates Tournament in Curaçao, in which Fischer placed fourth behind three Soviet players, he accused the Soviets of cheating. Specifically, he believed the Soviet grandmasters were agreeing to quick draws in games against each other to preserve their energy for Western Bloc players, particularly himself.  (Years later, Fischer’s accusation was proven accurate.)  Fischer’s anger toward this perceived unfairness in international tournament play, plus his general frustration with the international chess federation, led him to turn down invitations to play in a number of prestigious tournaments.  For an eighteen-month period beginning in late 1968, Fischer withdrew from international chess competition, but in 1970, Fischer re-entered the chess circuit to become a candidate for the next world title match.  Dominating a strong field of players, Fischer earned the right to challenge Boris Spassky for the world title, and in the summer of 1972, Fischer soundly defeated the Soviet champion in Reykjavík, Iceland to become the eleventh official – and the first American – world chess champion.  His victory became known as “the match of the century,” and his brilliance at the chessboard, coupled with his confident and autonomous personality, catapulted him into worldwide fame and iconic status.

Shortly after his victory, Fischer disappeared from public life.  When the next world championship match was arranged in 1975, Fischer submitted a long list of meticulous demands.  When all but one were met, he refused to play, and his Soviet challenger Anatoly Karpov was declared world champion by default.  Fischer then withdrew from serious play for almost 20 years, returning in 1992 to finally play Spassky in an unsanctioned privately organized multi-million dollar rematch in Yugoslavia.  After defeating Spassky, Fischer again went into seclusion, in part because he had violated U.S. restrictions by participating in events in Yugoslavia during the Serbo-Croatian war, when the U.S. Treasury Department was prohibiting American citizens from conducting business in that region of the world.  Fischer would never return to the United States, living from 1992 through 2005 in Yugoslavia, Japan, Hungary, Germany and the Philippines.  In 2004, he was arrested at Narita International Airport in Tokyo while checking in for a flight to the Philippines.  He was charged with attempting to travel with a revoked passport, and faced deportation to the United States, where authorities were set to arrest him.  Fischer was held in a Japanese jail for eight months, then on March 21, 2005, Fischer was granted Icelandic citizenship and was flown to Reykjavík, the site of his world-famous encounter with Spassky, three days later.  Fischer would spend his remaining three years in Reykjavík, where he died on January 17, 2008 of kidney failure, after refusing the medical intervention that would have been necessary to save his life.

An enigmatic personality his whole life, chess fans and historians have long wondered if Fischer suffered from mental illness.  A recent psychobiographical study lends support to that conclusion.  See Karpov, Anatoly.


Fisher, Carrie

A cultural icon since appearing as Princess Leia in George LucasStar Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope (with Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford), Carrie Fisher was born on October 21, 1956, in Los Angeles, California to show business parents Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher.

In the early to mid-1980s, Fisher weathered problems with alcohol, drugs and depression, while appearing in a series of smaller films including Under the Rainbow (1981) and Hollywood Vice Squad (1986).  As the decade drew to a close, Fisher again came into her own, both on- and off-screen.  In 1987, she published her first novel, Postcards from the Edge, a successful semi-autobiographical tale of a mother and daughter in show business.  She adapted her novel into a screenplay, and the resulting film, directed by Mike Nichols, featured Meryl Streep.  Fisher also turned in a series of solid supporting roles in such films as When Harry Met Sally (1989) and Soap Dish (1991).

A talented screenwriter, Fisher has helped revise many Hollywood scripts, including Sister Act (1992), Outbreak (1995) and The Wedding Singer (1998).  She has also mined her own life experiences to create such best-selling books as Wishful Drinking (2009) and Shockaholic (2012).  She later landed her own interview show through Oxygen Media called Conversations from the Edge with Carrie Fisher.  She reprised her iconic Princess Leia role in Star Wars – Episode VII: The Force Awakens, starring alongside original cast members Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill.

Fisher was married to singer-songwriter Paul Simon in the 1980s, and has one child, daughter Billie Catherine, with Hollywood talent agent Bryan Lourd.  Fisher died December 27, 2016 after suffering a heart attack.


Flash drive

A portable hard drive that can be inserted into a USB port for storage, retrieval and transfer of data.  Also known as a jump drive, pen drive, thumb drive and USB drive.  See Computer; Hard drive; Universal serial bus (USB) port.


Flash memory

Non-volatile and rewritable, flash memory is stored on solid-state chips that retain information without requiring power.  The popular memory format can be used in just about every electronic device, including USB drives, cameras, media players, smartphones and tablets.  It is a type of electronically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM), but differs from regular EEPROM, which erases content byte by byte.  Most flash memory erases data in whole blocks, making it suitable for use with applications where large amounts of data require frequent updates.  Inside the flash chip, data is stored in cells protected by floating gates.  Tunneling electrons change the gate’s electronic charge in “a flash” (hence the name), clearing the cell of its contents so it can be rewritten.

Flash memory devices use two different logical technologies to map data: NOR and NAND.  NOR flash provides high-speed random access, reading and writing data in specific memory locations; it can retrieve as little as a single byte.  It is used to store cell phones’ operating systems, and is also used in computers for the basic input/output system (BIOS) program that runs at start-up.  NAND flash reads and writes sequentially at high speed, handling data in small blocks called pages. This flash is used in solid-state and USB flash drives, digital cameras, audio and video players, and TV set-top boxes. NAND flash reads faster than it writes, quickly transferring whole pages of data. Less expensive than NOR flash, NAND technology offers higher capacity for the same-size silicon.

Flash memory is sometimes referred to as flash RAM, however flash RAM requires power to retain data.  See NAND flash memory; NOR flash memory; Read-only memory (ROM); Universal serial bus (USB) port.


Flash mob
A typically large gathering of people who perform public seemingly random acts, such as a choreographed dance.


Flash RAM

See Flash memory.


Flash, The


His mother’s killer never found, the mystery obsessed Barry Allen, driving him to become a forensic scientist. Consumed by his work, he was constantly in his lab.  When a lightning bolt hits a nearby shelf in his lab, Barry’s body reacted to the electricity and chemicals that hit his body, and as a result, was given super-speed, becoming the Flash. First appearing in Flash Comics #1 in January 1940, The Flash – also known as The Scarlet Speedster and The Fastest Man Alive – can race up buildings, across oceans, and around the world to catch criminals and protect his beloved Central City.  In addition to superhuman speed, The Flash is endowed with many speed-related gifts: Speed Force conduit, decelerated aging, Speed Force sharing/lending, speed stealing, Speed Force aura, and self-sustenance.  He is also skilled in hand-to-hand combat and has quite a mechanical aptitude.  Vibrating at specific frequencies, The Flash can phase through objects and create sonic booms. Originally included in the Justice Society of America in comic pages, The Flash is a prominent member of the Justice League of America, and in a 1976 large-format comic, famously raced Superman.  The Flash has appeared on two television shows: One in 1990 starring Wesley Shipp, and another which debuted in 2014 starring Grant Gustin.  See DC Comics; Justice League of America; Justice Society of America; Velocibiology.



A five-issue 2011 DC Comics crossover miniseries written by Geoff Johns and featuring art by Andy Kubert, in which Barry Allen (The Flash) finds himself in an alternate universe, in which there never was a Flash or Superman.  Themyscira and Atlantis, respective homelands to Wonder Woman and Aquaman, are on the brink of war, and Thomas Wayne has created the persona of Batman after his son Bruce is murdered.  Only Barry can recall the pre-Flashpoint world, and he must work to regain his powers in order to fix the time-space shift, which he learns that he caused when he previously traveled back in time to save his mother from being murdered by Reverse-Flash.  The Flashpoint storyline was adapted into the animated feature film Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, as well as incorporated into the third season of the WB series The Flash.  See Aquaman; Batman; DC Comics; Flash, The; Justice League of America; Superman; Wonder Woman.


Flat Earth Society, The

Founded in the early 1800s by English inventor Samuel Birley Rowbotham, the mission of the Flat Earth Society is to promote and initiate discussion of Flat Earth theory as well as archive Flat Earth literature.  Rowbotham’s Flat Earth views were based largely on a literal interpretation of Bible passages.  His system, called “Zetetic astronomy,” held that the earth is a flat disk centered at the North Pole and bounded along its “southern” (or outer) edge by a wall of ice, with the sun, moon, planets, and stars only a few hundred miles above the surface of the earth.  After Rowbotham’s death in 1884, followers of his Zetetic Astronomy founded the Universal Zetetic Society.  Flat Earth theory spread to the United States, particularly in the town of Zion, Illinois, where Christian Catholic Apostolic Church founder John Alexander Dowie, and later Wilbur Glenn Voliva, promoted Flat Earth theory.  Voliva died in 1942, and the church quickly disintegrated.  Flat Earthism remained in Zion, but gradually became less popular by the 1950s.  Nevertheless, the International Flat Earth Society was formally founded in 1956 by Samuel Shenton, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Royal Geographic Society.  After Shenton’s death in 1971, Charles K. Johnson became president of the Society.  Over time, its membership increased to over 3,000.  In 1995, a fire destroyed the Johnson’s home and the entire Flat Earth Society library, archives and membership lists.  Following a long period of poor health, Johnson’s wife Marjory passed away in 1996, after which he vowed to rebuild the society.  However, Charles K. Johnson passed away in 2001 at the age of 76, leaving the Society’s future uncertain.  After several years of inactivity, the Flat Earth Society was resurrected in 2004 and remains active today.  The Society officially reopened to new members in October 2009.  See Zetetic astronomy.


Flat-panel monitor

A computer screen that is flat, as opposed to the older arced screens on cathode-ray tube (CRT) models.  This newer design cuts down on glare and gives the user a much clearer view that is easier on the eyes to look at for long periods of time.  See Computer.


Flawless victory

In hand-to-hand combat video games, a victory in which the winner is completely unharmed, including damage to his health and block levels.


Flood, The

A species of highly hostile parasitic organisms in the action video game series Halo that reproduce and grow by consuming sentient lifeforms.  The Flood was responsible for consuming most of the sentient life in the galaxy, including the vast majority of Forerunners, during the Forerunner-Flood war, prompting the activation of the galaxy-sterilizing Halo Array.

Originating as a corrupted form of the galaxy’s most ancient custodians known as the Precursors, the Flood reproduces by infecting other organisms, then hijacking their bodies and nervous systems in order to transform them into one of many specialized forms.  Simultaneously, the Flood assimilates their memories and intelligence, and thus the species becomes collectively more intelligent as they progress.  Because of their frighteningly rapid growth rate, as long as enough hosts of sufficient biomass and intelligence are available, the Flood is effectively unstoppable.

All Flood forms share a single consciousness, which becomes progressively more intelligent and sophisticated with every sentient host that is assimilated. When enough hosts have been infected, the Flood consciousness becomes a Gravemind – a self-aware, highly intelligent entity that strategically commands all Flood forms in an outbreak.  Due to this group consciousness, the Flood as a whole is more accurately described as a single, trans-sentient macroorganism, rather than a collection of individuals directed by one or more controlling beings.  In the absence of a Gravemind, the Flood possesses only basic coordination; they are incapable of forming complex strategies, and focus solely on attacking and infecting nearby sentient organisms.  This stage of a Flood outbreak is known as the Feral Stage.  At this stage, the Flood seek to create an assembly of biomass, calcium, and nervous system reserves, which leads to the creation of a Flood hive and the beginnings of a proto-Gravemind.  The nature of the Flood’s collective consciousness has been likened to a socialist utopia, due to the fact that the Flood act as a unified entity, with no individuality that would be present in other, more traditional species; each component of the Flood meta-organism works tirelessly for the advancement of their species.

The Flood presents a highly variable and unconventional threat in combat, as it can infect and mutate dead or captured opponents into a myriad of lethal forms, effectively growing stronger as it weakens enemy forces. They are widely considered to be the greatest threat in the Milky Way galaxy.  See Halo.



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