J – Jm

J operator

See Imaginary number.


“Jabberwocky” (poem)

Lewis Carroll, author of Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, the 1872 sequel to 1865’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, was a master at nonsensical language.

This is perhaps best sampled in Looking-Glass’s poem “Jabberwocky,” as recited to Alice by the Cheshire cat, and later explained (mostly) by Humpty Dumpty.  It enlists the use of combined words.  For example, at the beginning, “’Twas brillig” tells when the action in the poem takes place.  “Brillig,” derived from the verb to bryl or broil, is “the time of broiling dinner,” or late afternoon (approximately 4pm).


’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

All mimsy were the borogoves,

      And the mome raths outgrabe.


“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

      The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun

      The frumious Bandersnatch!”


He took his vorpal sword in hand;

      Long time the manxome foe he sought—

So rested he by the Tumtum tree

      And stood awhile in thought.


And, as in uffish thought he stood,

      The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,

Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,

      And burbled as it came!


One, two! One, two! And through and through

      The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!

He left it dead, and with its head

      He went galumphing back.


“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?

      Come to my arms, my beamish boy!

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”

      He chortled in his joy.


’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

All mimsy were the borogoves,

      And the mome raths outgrabe.


The poem tells the story of a young boy who goes out to slay a monster, the Jabberwock.  Some of the individual words originally meant the following:

“Slythy”: A combination of “slimy” and “lithe,” meaning “smooth and active”

“Tove”: A species of badger, but something like a lizard

“Gyre”: A verb derived from “gyaour” or “glaour,” meaning either “to go round and round like a gyroscope” or “to scratch like a dog”

“Gymble”: From “gimblet,” to screw out holes in anything, like a gimblet

“Wabe”: A verb derived from “swab” or “soak,” the grass-plot around a sun-dial

“Mimsy”: From “miserable,” unhappy

“Borogove”: An extinct kind of parrot. According to Carroll, they had no wings, beaks turned up, made their nests under sun-dials and lived on veal

“Mome”: Taken either from “solemome” or “solemn,” to mean grave, or meaning “from home,” or having lost one’s way

“Rath”: A species of land turtle, with a mouth like a shark; also likened to a green pig

“Outgrabe”: Past tense of the verb to “outgribe,” which is connected with the old verb to “grike” or “shrike,” from which are derived “shriek” and “creak,” to mean squeaked, or possibly something between a bellow and a whistle, with a kind of sneeze in the middle

As Carroll once explained in a letter to a young friend, “I am afraid I can’t explain ‘vorpal blade’ for you – nor yet ‘tulgey wood’, but I did make an explanation once for ‘uffish thought’!  It seemed to suggest a state of mind when the voice is gruffish, the manner roughish, and the temper huffish.  Then again, as to ‘burble’ if you take the three verbs ‘bleat, murmur, and warble‘ then select the bits I have underlined, it certainly makes ‘burble’ though I am afraid I can’t distinctly remember having made it in that way.”


Jabberwocky (film)

Directed by Terry Gilliam (in his directorial debut) and starring fellow Monty Python member Michael Palin, the 1977 film centers around a peasant who becomes the reluctant hero of his village when it is threatened by a monster.  Based on the poem by Lewis Carroll, as featured in his 1872 novel Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Saw There, the central character experiences a series of misadventures, which culminate in a battle against the notorious beast.


Jack the Ripper

A serial killer who terrorized the Whitechapel district of London’s East End from August 7 to September 10, 1888.  He killed at least five prostitutes and mutilated their bodies in an unusual manner, indicating that the killer had a knowledge of human anatomy.  “Jack the Ripper” (a moniker originating from someone who claimed to be the Whitechapel butcher in a letter published at the time of the attacks) was never captured nor identified, and remains one of England’s most infamous criminals.

Over the past several decades, various theories about Jack the Ripper’s identity have been produced, accusing such people as the famous Victorian painter Walter Sickert, a Polish migrant, and even the grandson of Queen Victoria.  Since 1888, more than 100 suspects have been named, contributing to widespread folklore and a morbid kind of entertainment.

In the late 1800s, London’s East End was notorious for squalor, violence and crime.  Prostitution was only illegal if the practice caused a public disturbance, and thousands of brothels and low-rent lodging houses provided sexual services during the late 19th Century.  At that time, the death or murder of a prostitute was rarely reported in the press or discussed within polite society.  The reality was that “ladies of the night” were subject to physical attacks, but even understanding that, the “Ripper” series of killings were marked by sadistic butchery, suggesting a mind more sociopathic and hateful than most citizens could comprehend.  This killer didn’t just snuff out life, he mutilated and humiliated women, and his crimes seemed to reveal a hatred for all women.

When Jack the Ripper’s murders suddenly stopped, London citizens wanted answers that would not come.  The ongoing case has met with a number of hindrances, including lack of evidence, a gamut of misinformation and false testimony, and tight Scotland Yard regulations.  Jack the Ripper has been the topic of news stories for more than 120 years, as well as fiction and non-fiction books, graphic novels, films, and even an episode of Star Trek.

In 2011, British detective Trevor Marriott made headlines when he was denied access to uncensored documents surrounding the case by the Metropolitan Police.  According to a 2011 ABC News article, London officers had refused to give Marriott the files because they include protected information about police informants, and that handing over the documents could impede on the possibility of future testimony by modern-day informants.

In 2014, Russell Edwards, an author and amateur sleuth claimed that he has proven the identity of Jack the Ripper by DNA results obtained from a shawl belonging to one of the victims, Catherine Eddowes.  The reports have yet to be verified, but Edwards asserts they point to Aaron Kosminkski, a Polish immigrant and one of the original prime suspects in the grisly murders.


Jackson, Peter

The co-writer, co-producer, and Academy Award-winning director of The Lord of the Rings trilogy was born on October 31, 1961, in Pukerua Bay, New Zealand.  At the age of eight, he began creating short films with his parents’ 8mm movie camera.  He attended Kapiti College, a state-run secondary school, but dropped out at the age of 16 so that he could get a job as a photographic lithographer at a local newspaper to finance his film hobby.  He worked six days a week while living at home in order to save as much money as possible to purchase a state-of-the-art camera.  Filming only on his free Sundays, Jackson wrote and directed a full-length comedy film about flesh-eating aliens called Bad Taste.  To Jackson’s great surprise, he received a $30,000 grant from the New Zealand Film Commission that enabled him to quit his job and finish the film, then he won a $200,000 grant to pay for post-production.  The finished picture debuted at the 1988 Cannes Film Festival, where it became a surprise hit and landed distribution deals in 12 countries.  Following the success of Bad Taste, Jackson made a raunchy puppet film called Meet the Feebles in 1989 that developed a devoted cult following.  In 1993, he released his first professional live-action film, Braindead (released as Dead Alive in the United States), which won considerable acclaim among horror movie buffs.  Jackson broke out into decidedly different territory as the screenwriter and director of the 1994 film Heavenly Creatures, a disturbing dramatization of a famous New Zealand matricide case from the 1950s. Starring a then-unknown actress named Kate Winslet, Heavenly Creatures earned Jackson an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay.

In the mid-1990s, while looking for an ambitious project to test his directorial skills, Jackson envisioned making film versions of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic The Lord of the Rings.  Obtaining the film rights in 1997, it took Jackson several years to find a film studio that shared his vision of completing a series of three separate films.  New Line Cinema finally agreed to finance the project on Jackson’s terms, and after 18 months of filming, The Fellowship of the Ring was released in December 2001, receiving widespread international audience and critical acclaim. The second film in the trilogy, The Two Towers, was released a year later, and the third installment, The Return of the King, followed suit in 2003.  The highest grossing film trilogy in history (with more than $2.9 billion in worldwide box office revenue) and one of the most acclaimed series of all time (with 17 Academy Awards and 30 nominations), The Lord of the Rings established Jackson as a world-class director.  The Return of the King, widely considered the greatest fantasy film ever made, tied Titanic (1997) and Ben-Hur (1959) for the most Oscar wins by a single film with 11, including a Best Director statue for Jackson.

Riding the wave of The Lord of the Rings’ success, Jackson remade the film that had inspired him as a child to make movies, King Kong.  Released in 2005, King Kong was another box office smash.  After nearly two decades of continuous work, Jackson took several years off from directing before returning to direct the 2009 film adaptation of Alice Sebold’s novel The Lovely Bones and the film adaptation of The Hobbit, Tolkien’s prequel to The Lord of the Rings trilogy.


Jameson, J. Jonah

The publisher of the Daily Bugle and Spider-Man’s most vocal critic was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko for Marvel Comics, making his first appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man #1 (1962).  He was also featured in the 1967 animated TV series, and beginning in 2002, has appeared in the live-action series of Spider-Man films, as portrayed by J.K. Simmons.  It has been said among fans that Jameson was partially based upon how Stan Lee thought that his readers would perceive him; in fact, the first panel in which he appears shows him hunched over a typewriter, typing frantically.  Being the son of an abusive father caused Jonah to grow up convinced that even heroes could be and indeed were evil.  As an extension of this suspicion, he hates superheroes – or “costumed freaks,” as he calls them – and continuously targets Spider-Man, seeking to prove that he is more of a criminal than a hero.



Used as an adjective meaning “of poor quality.”  Common in the computer science community.  Also, in the Magic: the Gathering community, the word “jank” has come to mean a card or a deck that isn’t good or doesn’t appear to be good.



Java is an object-oriented programming language developed by James Gosling, Mike Sheridan and Patrick Naughton at Sun Microsystems (which is now a subsidiary of Oracle Corporation) in the early 1990s.  The language itself borrows much syntax from C and C++, but has a simpler object model and fewer low-level facilities.  Java is only distantly related to JavaScript, though they do share a C-like syntax.

In the early ‘90s, extending the power of network computing to the activities of everyday life was a radical idea.  In 1991, a group called the “Green Team” believed that the next wave in computing was the union of digital consumer devices and computers.  Gosling’s small team of Sun engineers created the programming language that would revolutionize our world: Java. The Green Team demonstrated their new language with an interactive, handheld home-entertainment controller that was originally targeted at.  Too advanced for the digital cable television industry at the time, it was just right for the internet, which was just starting to take off. In 1995, the team announced that the Netscape Navigator internet browser would incorporate Java technology.

Today, Java not only permeates the internet, but also is the invisible force behind many of the applications and devices that power our day-to-day lives. From internet programming and mobile phones to handheld devices, games and navigation systems to e-business solutions, Java is everywhere!

Originally, the language was called “Greentalk” by James Gosling.  Then it became “Oak,” and was developed as a part of the Green project.  In 1995, Oak was renamed “Java” due to a trademark infringement case initiated by Oak Technologies.  The name “Java” was chosen, as it represented something that reflected the essence of the technology: revolutionary, dynamic, lively, cool, unique … plus, it was easy to spell and fun to say!  Also that year, Time magazine named Java one of the “Ten Best Products of 1995.”

There were five primary goals in the creation of the Java language:
1. It should use the object-oriented programming methodology, meaning the software would be designed so that the various types of data it manipulates are combined together with their relevant operations
2. It should allow the same program to be executed on multiple operating systems
3. It should contain built-in support for using computer networks
4. It should be designed to execute code from remote sources securely
5. It should be easy to use by selecting what was considered the good parts of other object-oriented languages

Two other key elements to Java are its platform independence, meaning that programs written in the Java language will run similarly on diverse hardware, and its automatic garbage collection.



A scripting program created by Netscape that adds user interactivity to web pages, giving designers the opportunity to transform static HyperText Markup Language (HTML) pages into dynamic interactive pages. With JavaScript (originally named LiveScript), a graphic image of a clock can be replaced with a working clock, and a plain button can be transformed into one that, when users interact with it, changes color and/or size.  JavaScript is a cross-platform program, and works on most internet browser versions of 3.0 and up.  The object-oriented programming language has specific scripting codes that form its foundation.  Like formal programming languages and HTML, certain key concepts and/or phrases control the interaction of the script with the web page.



A regular member of the Justice League of America on the 1970s Saturday morning television series Super Friends, Jayna was created by E. Nelson Bridwell and Ramona Fradon.  Jayna and her twin brother Zan were introduced on the show in 1977, four years after the series debuted, and had never appeared in the DC Comics universe until that time.  They later appeared in the cartoon series Justice League Unlimited and the live-action Superman-based TV series Smallville.

Jayna is an alien from the planet Exxor, but they are different from other Exorians, and classified as mutants.  Supposedly, there once existed an ancient race of Exorian shape-shifters, and Zan and Jayna were born with this lost ability.  Eventually, they were adopted by the owner of a Space Circus, who only wanted to use them as sideshow attraction.  Fortunately, the circus’s clown was a kind man and raised them.  He also gave them Gleek the monkey as a pet.  The pair escaped the circus as teens, and hid on a planet where a space villain called Grax (an enemy of Superman) had set his headquarters.  Spying on him, they learned that Grax was planning to destroy the Earth using hidden explosives.  The twins traveled to Earth to warn the Justice League, and ended up joining the team of superheroes.

During the late 90s the twins were introduced into the main DC Universe in the series Extreme Justice.  Their backstories were altered from being sideshow attractions to slaves of an alien villain, later rescued by the Justice League.  In this series, the twins were much more powerful than their previous cartoon incarnations, and they were unable to speak English.

When they are called on to assist those in need, each twin had a specific ability, which could be activated by touching each other.  (In Super Friends, they would touch fists.)  Jayna had the ability to assume the form of any animal, even mythical ones such as a werewolf or a gryphon. She also shared a telepathic link with Zan, which could be used during their transformation periods.

A somewhat altered version of Jayna appeared in an episode of Justice League Unlimited with a group of man-made metahumans called the Ultimen.  Jayna was renamed to “Shifter,” and appeared as a white-skinned metahuman.  She was also able to turn into animals by making contact with her brother.  The Wonder Twins also appeared (in human actor form) in one episode of Smallville.  Jayna was portrayed by Allison (Warehouse 13) Scagliotti.


Jefferies tube

Traditional name for personnel access conduits aboard Federation starships, usually to allow hands-on contact to critical circuitry and serve as emergency access in times of power outage. Named for Walter Matthews “Matt” Jefferies, art director of the original Star Trek series, who designed the original starship Enterprise, along with developing many of the original show’s sets and props.  The name began as an off-camera joke among the crew, but by the time Star Trek: The Next Generation aired in the 1980s, the name was put into scripts and heard on-screen.  See Enterprise (starship); Jeffries, Walter Matthews (“Matt”); Roddenberry, Gene.


Jefferies, Walter Matthews (“Matt”)

Walter Matthews Jefferies, the art director of the original Star Trek television series, was born August 12, 1921 in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.  From an early age, “Matt” had an interest in airplanes and flight.  He fought in World War II as a B-17 co-pilot, serving in England, Africa and Italy, and was awarded the Bronze Star and Air Medal.  After the war, he worked for an aircraft firm in Maryland, then joined the graphics department of the Library of Congress in 1949.  He quit four years later to become a freelance aviation illustrator for magazines, and migrated to the West Coast, where most of the work was.  Once he got to California, he soon started working for the movie studios.  His first film job came in 1957 as something of a fluke.  His brother Philip was already working in Hollywood as an illustrator for Warner Bros., and he was working on the film Bombers B-52.  The art director on that film needed a set designer who knew aircraft, but all the designers in the guild were working.  He asked Philip if he knew anyone who fit the bill, and he turned to Matt.  Later, Phil and Matt would work together on The Old Man and the Sea, with Matt doing the technical illustrations for a mechanical shark, and Phil handling the sketches and storyboards.

Matt’s long career in television began when he became set designer on The Untouchables, which was followed by work on Ben Casey.  During that show, Matt took a month-long trip back to the East Coast to visit family, and when he got back to Ben Casey, he found out he didn’t have a job there anymore.  However, he had been set up to meet with a fellow named Gene Roddenberry, who was producing a “space show” and needed an aviation expert to design the spaceship.

Roddenberry and Jefferies had something in common: they both flew B-17s in WWII – Matt in Europe, Gene in the Pacific.  Roddenberry gave Matt a list of “don’ts” for the design of this new spaceship: “No flames, no fins, no rockets.”  He was only given one “do”: “Make it look like it’s got power.”  After struggling through a variety of concepts for several weeks, Jefferies settled on a saucer-and-nacelle design for what would become the starship Enterprise, and proceeded to sell that concept to Roddenberry and the network.  Jefferies also designed the bridge, and stayed on as art director for the three-season duration of the series, listed as “Walter M. Jefferies” in the credits.  Jefferies had such a big hand in defining the look of Star Trek that, as a gag among the production staff, the access crawlway where Scotty was often seen fixing the ship was referred to off-screen as the “Jefferies Tube.”  By the time Star Trek: The Next Generation hit the air in 1987, however, the term “Jefferies Tube” was spoken in episodic dialogue, thus making the term “canon,” or officially part of that universe.  In the Enterprise episode “First Flight,” the leader of an engineering team designing early warp engines was named “Captain Jefferies,” an homage to the man who played such a huge role in defining the Star Trek universe.

Though Star Trek is what Jefferies will be remembered for, he spent many more years on numerous other TV shows including Mission: Impossible (which was shot right next door to Star Trek), Riptide, Love American Style, Little House on the Prairie and Dallas.  In the late 1970s, Jefferies returned to the Star Trek world when Roddenberry began production on Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and he enlisted Matt to design the updated and refitted Enterprise.  Jefferies died on July 21, 2003, just three weeks short of his 82nd birthday.


Jekyll, Dr. Henry

A prominent, popular London scientist, who is well known for his dinner parties, Dr. Henry Jekyll is “half of” the central character in Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale of terror The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Jekyll was born to a good family, had a good education, and was respected by all who knew him.  Fascinated with the theory that Man has a “good” side and a “evil” side, Jekyll investigates, successfully synthesizing a potion that can release the “evil” in a person in the form of an entirely different physical person, one who would take over a subject’s own body and soul.  If successful, Jekyll theorized, one could commit acts of evil and feel no guilt.  A subject had only to drink the same elixir to be transformed back into his original self.  Jekyll’s evil dimension took the form of Edward Hyde, a man who commits heinous crimes without regret.  Eventually, Jekyll’s fascination with his “other self” becomes so obsessive that he becomes unable to control the metamorphosis process with the potion, and Edward Hyde begins to take over their body whenever he wishes to.  Jekyll is forced to become a frightened recluse, trying desperately to control Hyde but failing, especially whenever Jekyll falls asleep.  Finally, crazed by anxiety and a lack of sleep, in desperation, Jekyll commits suicide, but it is the writhing body of the dying Hyde which is discovered by his staff.


Jet pack


No matter the mythology or the machinery, one of Man’s oldest dreams has been to fly.  From the legend of Daedalus and Icarus to the comic pages of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, humans have sought a way for a man to lift off the Earth and fly through the air, landing safely on foot.  In the late 1950s, Wendell F. Moore of Bell Aerosystems went to the drawing board and came back with the Small Rocket Lift Device (SRLD), a Commando Cody-style backpack that could carry a single soldier into battle.  This Bell Aerospace rocket belt was seen as the dream of flight made real—but only if someone was flying about one city block away.  The limiting factor for every attempted rocket belt invention has been the fuel load.  Enough fuel to carry a flier for more than 20 seconds or so was too heavy to lift.  The fact that the SRLD worked at all was an engineering triumph.  It could fly, hover, turn, go high or low, but could travel only very short distances.  The jet pack worked by sending pressurized hydrogen peroxide through a decomposition catalyst—in this case a series of fine-meshed screens made of silver. The peroxide instantly expands into superheated steam, producing a few hundred pounds of thrust at the exhaust nozzles. These are controlled by the pilot’s hand grips. There’s no aerodynamic lift; the thing stays aloft through the physics of brute force. It has the glide angle of an Acme anvil.  Today, the second one ever built resides in the Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM).

By 1962 the Bell team had a patent and a flying jet pack that flew in trials, performed in the Pentagon courtyard in front of President John F. Kennedy.  Still, as soon as you took off, you had to find a place to land.  Other issues included the facts that rocket belts were hard to build, maintain and control, expensive to fuel, and at their core, dangerous.  As a practical tool, the jet pack was basically failure.

Every so often Bell rocket belts would turn up in popular media.  Jet packs were featured in episodes of Lost in Space and Gilligan’s Island in the 1960s, for example.  However, the most memorable example is likely to be the very first exposure of a jet pack in popular media: the 1965 James Bond thriller Thunderball.  In the decades since, the handful of packs ever built have made it into civilian hands and become air-show mainstays and popular halftime attractions.  Possibly the jet pack’s most noteworthy public appearance occurred at the opening ceremonies of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

In the mid-1990s, three men in Houston, Texas formed what they dubbed the American Rocket Belt Corporation.  Brad Barker engineered the device in Joe Wright’s workshop, while Thomas “Larry” Stanley financed the project.  They built a jet pack that extended the time aloft from 20 seconds or so to around 30 seconds, but the partnership came apart over money, and the belt disappeared.  Wright wound up murdered and Barker was abducted by Stanley, who tried to force his hostage to reveal the rocket belt’s whereabouts.  Eventually, Stanley ended up in prison.  No one has seen their device since 1995.

The Martin Jetpack, which was named one of Time magazine’s “Top 50 Inventions for 2010,” was initially conceived and developed by Glenn Martin in 1981, and touted as the world’s first practical jetpack.  It was said to be useful in search and rescue, military, recreational and commercial applications, both manned and unmanned.  This led to the founding of Martin Aircraft Company in 1998, and the development of a jetpack that, based on current testing, would have over 30 minutes of flight time capability at a speed of just under 46 mph and an altitude up to 3,000 feet.



See Jinn.



Character from Islamic mythology representing any class of spirits, being lower than the angels, and capable of appearing in human and animal forms. Jinn (also known as djin, djinn, djinni, genie or jin) can influence humankind for either good or evil, and were believed to have many special powers of creation and magic.



See Justice League of America.



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