R – Rm


A resourceful (and when his companions are in peril, a rather brave) droid in the Star Wars universe, R2-D2 (or “Artoo,” as Luke Skywalker is prone to call him) is a skilled mechanic and pilot’s assistant.  As well as being relied on by his human acquaintances, he formed a rather odd but enduring companionship with the outspoken droid C-3PO.


Racer X

Speed Racer’s main rival throughout the 1967-68 manga animated series and the 2008 film, Racer X was an enigmatic professional driver.  At the end of the original animated series, Racer X revealed himself to be Speed’s brother Rex Racer, who Speed had always suspected to be Racer X.  Rex Racer had been a promising racer, until the day he took the Mach 1 without permission.  The car was still experimental and needed to be tested.  Some debris on the track caused Rex and the Mach 1 to crash.  Rex made it out of the wreckage safely, but when he blamed the crash on the car, his father “Pops” Racer blew a gasket, as years of his work had been destroyed thanks to Rex.  Pops decided that Rex was too immature to handle being a racer, and threatened to take him off the racing team.  Rex decided to become a world champion on his own, and walked away from Pops and his family.  Rex later went to work for the International Secret Police, who gave him the identity of “Racer X.”  In the original manga series, once his undercover mission was over, he returned to his family, and he and his brother Speed would become the world’s best racing team.

In the anime, things ended differently.  In what was meant to be their final meeting, Speed asked Racer X point blank if he was his brother Rex.  Rather than give him the answer he had been waiting for so long to hear, Racer X punches Speed in the gut and knocks him out.  He then decides to give up the guise of Racer X, leaving behind his mask for Speed to find.  Knowing that the honorable and great racer was his brother, Speed is content.

In the 2008 major motion picture Speed Racer directed by the Wachowski Brothers, Racer X is portrayed by Matthew Fox.  In the film, Rex Racer fakes his own death in a cross-country race in order to fight corruption and evil that plagues racing and the world.  He undergoes plastic surgery to alter his appearance, so even when Speed figures out Racer X is his brother, Speed is fooled into believing he is wrong when Racer X takes off his mask.


Radd, Norrin

A citizen of the peaceful planet Zenn-La, in the Deneb System of the Milky Way Galaxy.  Norrin’s mother Elmar had committed suicide when he was very young, as she was unable to tolerate the hedonistic society that her homeworld had become.  Nevertheless, Norrin always blamed himself for her death.  Norrin was nurtured by his father to become a great man. After Norrin entered manhood, his father was implicated in the theft of another scientist’s ideas.  When Norrin confronted his father, he admitted negligence.  Disgusted by his father’s actions, Norrin withdrew from him.  Depressed by his indiscretion, which was made public by the local media and the evident lack of support by his son, Norrin’s father also committed suicide.  Radd helped to utilize scientific discovery and advancement to effectively eliminate hunger, disease, crime and war, effectively creating a Utopian society for his once-damaged planet.  Soon, however, Zenn-La’s peaceful existence was threatened by the presence of Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds, who subsisted on the energies provided by entire planets.  The Council of Scientists let Norrin use a spaceship to approach Galactus and plead for the sake of the planet.  Galactus agreed to spare the planet, but only on the condition that Norrin become one of the Heralds of Galactus.  Given a fraction of the Power Cosmic, Galactus transformed Norrin into the Silver Surfer.  The Silver Surfer’s main task was to find planets with the proper energy Galactus needed to feed on.  Over time, it became more difficult to find planets without sentient life on them.  Knowing Norrin Radd would resist taking a life, Galactus deliberately altered Norrin’s mind to repress his morals, allowing Norrin Radd to more efficiently carry out his grim task of finding suitable planets for Galactus to feed on.  A decidedly introspective character plagued by the sins of his past, Norrin Radd forever seeks redemption, endeavoring to carry out justice throughout the universe.

Introduced to comic book readers in Marvel Comics‘ Fantastic Four #48, “The Coming of Galactus,” in March 1966, Silver Surfer was created and designed by Jack Kirby as an extra character added on to the story of the Fantastic Four’s first encounter with the world-devouring Galactus.  Adding the character into the storyline without Stan Lee’s knowledge, Kirby would design a character that is seen as a herald of Galactus, but who eventually turns on him in the end.  Tired of designing characters involved with spaceships, Kirby gave this character a surfboard, which fit the times, as the mid-1960s were full of surfing aficionados and surfing music.  At first, Stan Lee was unsure of the design of Kirby’s extra character, but after realizing his motives and role in the story, Lee finally accepted the character for the storyline and the Silver Surfer was born.  The Silver Surfer has most recently been associated with a group of heroes, the Annihilators, and prior to this, Earth’s Defenders, although neither of these groups appear to be currently active.  It is presumed that the Silver Surfer is currently in service to Galactus.


Radio base station (RBS)

See Base transceiver station (BTS).



Radium (symbol Ra, atomic number 88 in the Periodic Table of Elements) was discovered in 1898 by Marie and Pierre Curie, and isolated in 1911 by Mme. Curie and André-Louis Debierne.  The name originates from the Latin word “radius” meaning “ray.”  Pure metallic radium is brilliant white when freshly prepared, but blackens on exposure to air, probably due to formation of the nitride. It exhibits luminescence, as do its salts; it decomposes in water and is somewhat more volatile than barium.  Radium emits alpha (α), beta (β) and gamma (γ) rays, and when mixed with beryllium, produces neutrons.  Inhalation, injection, or body exposure to radium can cause cancer and other body disorders.  Radium is over a million times more radioactive than the same mass of uranium.



Also spelled Ragna-Rok or Ragnarök, the name for the day that the Vikings believed the world as we know it would end.  It is the day of doom for both the gods and humans.  It will be the final battle between the Aesir (the race of gods) and Jotuns (the race of giants, which were enemies of the gods), and it will take place on the plains called Vigrid.  During Ragnarok the walls of Asgard (the home of the Aesir) and the huge bridge Bifrost (the way to Asgard) will be set on fire by Surt the fire giant.  The mighty Midgard serpent will emerge from the turbulent sea and engulf the Vigrid plains, while it splashes its tail and sprays poison in all directions, causing huge waves to crash onto the land.    The Midgard serpent and Thor the thunder god will kill each other.  The Fenrir wolf will break free of his chains, spreading death and destruction and killing Odin, the All-father.  The sun and the moon will be swallowed by the wolves Sköll and Hati.  The world tree Yggdrasil will shake the ground.  Finally Surt will set all the nine worlds, in a flaming inferno and they will sink into the boiling sea. There is nothing the gods can do to prevent Ragnarok.  Odin’s only comfort is that he knows that Ragnarok will not be the end of the world.

There will be signs of the impending arrival of Ragnarok, including the murder of the god Baldr, the son of Odin and Frigg.  There will be a long, cold winter called Fimbulwinter that will last for three years.  During these three years, the world will be plagued by wars, and brothers will kill brothers.  A beautiful red rooster named Fjalar (meaning “All knower”) will warn all the giants that the beginning of Ragnarok has begun.  At the same time in Niflheim, the red rooster will warn all the dead that the war has started, and in Asgard, the red rooster Gullinkambi will warn all the gods.  This will be the battle to end all battles, and the day that the Einherjar (all the Vikings from Valhalla, who died honorably in battle) will pick up their swords and armor to fight side by side with the Aesir against the Jotuns.  The gods Baldr and Hod will return from the dead to fight one last time with their brothers and sisters.  Equipped with his eagle helmet and his spear Gungnir in his hand, riding on his horse Sleipnir, Odin will lead the enormous army of Asgard with all the gods and brave Einherjar to the battleground at Vigrid.  The dragon Nidhug will come flying over the battlefield and gather the corpses for his never-ending hunger.

When most of the gods have perished in the mutually destruction with the Jotuns, it is predetermined that a new world, beautiful and green, will rise up from the water.  Before the battle at Ragnarok, the woman Lif and the man Liftraser will find shelter in the sacred tree Yggdrasil, and when the battle is over, they will come out and populate the earth again.  Several of the gods will survive, among them Odin’s sons Vidar and Vali, Odin’s brother Honir, and Thor’s sons Modi and Magni, who will inherit their father’s hammer Mjölnir.  The few gods who survive will go to Idavoll, which has remained untouched.  Here, they will build new houses, the greatest of which will be Gimli, a house with a roof of gold.


Ramirez, Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos

Born with the name Tak Ne in Egypt in 896 BC, the man who would eventually take the name “Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez” lived a normal life, until the day he was to die came.  Instead of dying, he was instantly healed and he realized that he could not die.  Over time, he came to learn that he was a member of a race of immortals who could only be killed by beheading.  The immortals were destined to walk through the centuries until the time of “The Gathering,” a mysterious event that would bring them together when only a few remained, and where those who remained would fight until only one remained.  The last immortal was to receive “The Prize.”  Around the year 1500, Tak Ne visited Japan, where Nakano taught him the art of sword making and metallurgy.  By 1520, the immortal was using the name Ramirez, and was appointed Chief Metallurgist to King Charles the Fifth.  In 1540, Ramirez learned of the Scot from the clan MacLeod who was killed in battle in 1536.  He set out to find and train the newly-revealed immortal.  In 1541, Ramirez found Connor MacLeod, living in familial exile after he recovered from a mortal wound and was declared a witch.  He taught MacLeod about his immortality, the Rules of the Game, and the Kurgan, who was sure to come after the young Scot.  He also taught him to fight with a sword, in the hopes of surviving until the Gathering.  However, in 1542, Ramirez was killed by the Kurgan, who did indeed track MacLeod to his home, but found Ramirez waiting instead.  Centuries later, in 2024, Connor (who remained alive but was now aging normally as part of The Prize) called out for Ramirez during a battle.  Soon, Ramirez reappeared to a rejuvenated MacLeod.  Together with Louise, they go to MAX, a maximum security prison controlled by the Shield Corp, to rescue Alan Newman, Connor’s friend who helped design and build the Shield.  While there, Ramirez gives his life so Connor may escape to shut down the Shield for the good of the entire planet.  The adventures of Ramirez are chronicled in the motion pictures Highlander and Highlander II: The Quickening.


Rape of the Sabine women

According to tradition, the city of Rome was founded in the 8th Century BC by Romulus and Remus.  The Roman historian Livy wrote that the city of Rome grew strong quickly, and was able to defend itself against the tribes living outside the city’s walls.  At this point, however, Rome was facing a threat not from without, but from within. The followers of Romulus were mostly men, as he had granted sanctuary to the rabble and outcasts of other cities.  As the population of Rome was rapily increasing, it became clear that there was a shortage of women in the new settlement.  As a result, it seemed that Rome’s greatness was destined to last only for a generation, as these pioneers would have no children to carry on their legacy.  Initially, the Romans sought to form alliances with and requested the right of marriage from their neighbors.  The emissaries failed, however, as Rome’s neighbors were afraid that Rome’s growing power would become a threat to them and their descendants.  As a result, Romulus decided to take more drastic actions in order to secure the future of his city.  The ruler found the perfect opportunity during the celebration of the Consualia.  According to the ancient writer Plutarch, this festival was founded by Romulus himself.  Apparently, Romulus had discovered a hidden underground altar to a god called Consus.  This god was said to have been either a god of counsel or an attendant to Neptune.  To celebrate this discovery, Romulus established the Consualia, a day of sacrifices, public games and shows.  Then, he announced the festival to the neighboring populations, and many came to Rome.  One of the tribes that attended the Consualia was the Sabines.  According to Livy, the entire Sabine population, including women and children, came to Rome.  According to Plutarch, Romulus signaled his men by standing and gathering up his cloak to throw it over his body.  When this signal was seen, the Romans fell on the Sabine maidens to carry them away.  According to Plutarch, only virgins were abducted, with the exception of Hersilia, who was a married woman.  This, however, was said to be an accident.

According to some historians, the abduction of the Sabines was not perpetrated out of lust, but out of a desire to form a strong alliance with them.  However, instead of an alliance, the Romans ended up in a war with the Sabines, as they were outraged that their women had been forcibly taken.  After the allies of the Sabines were defeated, the Romans fought the Sabines themselves.  By this time, the Sabine women had accepted their role as the wives of the Romans, and were quite distressed at the war between their husbands and their relatives.  Finally, in one of the battles, the Sabine women stood between the Roman and Sabine armies, imploring the armies to stop fighting. According to Livy, the Sabine women placed the blame for the war on themselves and said that they would rather die than to see bloodshed on either side of their families.  Affected by their speech, the Romans and Sabines concluded a peace treaty, and the two factions were united under the leadership of Rome, hence further strengthening the city of Rome.



Dilbert’s pet rat, who also happens to be a corporate consultant in Scott Adams’ Dilbert comic strip.


Rational number

Any number that can be written as a simple fraction.



One of four Houses at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter series, Ravenclaws prize wit, learning and wisdom.  The house’s motto is “Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure.”  The House, founded by Rowena Ravenclaw, has blue and bronze as its colors and an eagle as its symbol (with the “raven” in the name describing the color of the claw, not the bird itself).


Rayner, Kyle

After Green Lantern Hal Jordan’s insane murderous rampage, only one Guardian named Ganthet survived.  Reforging Jordan’s discarded power ring as the Corps’ final legacy, Ganthet traveled to Earth, appearing in an alleyway outside of a nightclub and encountered two humans. One was a drunken homeless man and the other was Kyle who was getting some fresh air.  The Guardian thrust the final ring into Kyle’s hand, muttering “You will have to do” before disappearing. Putting on the ring, Kyle found himself dressed in a standard Green Lantern uniform.  After training with each of the seven corps and learning to wield all of the colors, Kyle has become the first White Lantern since blackest night, and perhaps the first true whit lantern as he achieved this on his own without any contact with the entity. As a member of The White Lantern Corps, he is able to wield the white light of the entity as well as any of the seven colors. So far his power has shown to be most effective against the third army and even the guardians, perhaps indicating that Kyle’s now white energy makes him more powerful than any lantern as he wields the combined power of all seven lights at once. His ring is keyed to his genetic code so only he can use it. Before Kyle gave up his power as ION Kyle made changes to his ring. His ring will always go back to him if an enemy removes it. Kyle also gave his ring reserves so it doesn’t run out of power but he still has to charge it to use full power. As a White Lantern Kyle is more powerful than the Guardians.  On top of the capabilities of a Green Lantern Ring, the powers that the White Lantern Ring grant Kyle are: animating, reality manipulation, teleportation, healing, matter manipulation, artificial intelligence.

Although he recognizes the seriousness and importance of being a Green Lantern, he never has the arrogant attitude of being places above others. As a Green Lantern, Kyle has lost many people close to him, but manages to lighten his mood and everyone around him due to his cheerful nature. His obedience to helping those close to him due to his incredible will, lets him overpower the fear he feels from losing them as seen in his confrontation with Parallax. He is a friendly guy who would befriend you in a second and is always interested in making friends and meeting new people, which is one of the reasons he enjoys being a Green Lantern. Kyle is a huge flirt and hopeless romantic who would hit on any girl he has an interest in.

Replacing a main character was nothing new at DC Comics, and due to the waning popularity of DC Comics’ Green Lantern title, it was decided by DC editorial and Green Lantern editor Kevin Dooley to scrap everything, including Hal Jordan as a main character, and start fresh with a new Green Lantern lead.  Kyle Rayner was created by Ron Marz and Darryl Banks, with Marz crafting Kyle to address what he thought was wrong with the square-jawed, serious character of Hal Jordan.  Rather than a stalwart hero from the beginning, Kyle was a random guy with unrealized heroic potential that became the new Green Lantern by sheer chance. The unremarkable life he had lived up until that point would give him a sense of wonder and excitement over his new circumstances as the universe’s sole Green Lantern.


Read-only memory

Read-only memory, or ROM, is “built-in” computer memory containing data that normally can only be read, not written to (and therefore, changed).  ROM contains the hard-wired programming that allows your computer to be “booted up” or regenerated each time you turn it on, before the software programs load.  Unlike a computer’s random access memory (RAM), the data in ROM is not lost when the computer power is turned off.  The ROM is sustained by a small long-life battery in your computer.  ROM is permanent and non-volatile memory, so it is retained even when the computer’s power source is removed.


Real Genius

One of the youngest students ever accepted into a university known for its advanced programs for geniuses, Mitch Taylor is partnered up with his idol, science club legend Chris Knight, on a project to develop a high-powered laser.  Together with their hyperkinetic friends, including the eccentric Lazlo Hollyfeld, they employ their intellects mainly in the pursuit of fun and distraction, but when their functional laser is stolen by their teacher for a military weapon, they band together in a plot to get even.  The 1985 comedy starred Val Kilmer, Gabe Jarrett, Jon Gries, Michelle Meyrink and William Atherton.



To restart a computer and reload the operating system, due to either the installation of new software or hardware, or because applications are non-responsive.



The world’s first 100% computer animated TV show featured the extraordinary adventures of life within a computer.  Humor, action and intelligent use of various computer references combined in the 1994-2002 series to produce a stunning universe where good constantly fought the forces of evil.  Dot Matrix, her brother Enzo, and thousands of friendly “binomes” live in Mainframe, which is plagued by the viruses Megabyte and Hexadecimal.  Guardian Bob is sent from the Net to protect them, and soon makes it his home.  Together, they must prevent Megabyte from taking control of all the systems.  As an added complication, games being played by the mystical User invade the system regularly, and must be defeated, or else portions of the city are laid waste.  This unique series gave viewers the opportunity to see every genre of video game … from the point-of-view of the characters!


Red Hood, The

See Joker, The.


Red Shirt

See Redshirt.


Red Skull

According to Marvel Comics lore, Johann Shmidt ran away from the orphanage when he was seven years old and lived in the streets as a beggar and a thief.  As he grew older he worked at various menial jobs but spent most of his time in prison for crimes ranging from vagrancy to theft.  In his late teens during the rise of the Third Reich, Shmidt was working as a bellhop in a major hotel, and there he served the rooms of Adolf Hitler himself.  By chance, he was present when Hitler was furiously berating an officer and swore he could train Johann himself, a simple bellhop, to be a better National Socialist.  Looking closely at him and sensing his dark inner nature, Hitler decided to take up the challenge and recruited Shmidt.  Dissatisfied with the standard drill instruction his subordinates used to train Shmidt, Hitler took over personally.  Upon completion, Hitler gave Shmidt a unique uniform with a grotesque red skull mask, and he emerged as the Red Skull.  His assignment was to become the embodiment of Nazi intimidation, while Hitler himself could remain the popular political leader of Germany.  The Red Skull wreaked havoc throughout Europe in the early stages of World War II. The propaganda effect was so great that the United States government decided to counter it by creating their own equivalent symbol.  Using the recipient of the lost Operation Rebirth, Steve Rogers became Captain America.  The two counterparts soon clashed in what would be a series of engagements throughout the war, ending with a final battle that left the Skull buried under the rubble of a bombed building. Because he was immediately exposed to an experimental gas there, he remained in suspended animation for decades.

Johann was eventually rescued in modern times by the terrorist organization HYDRA. The Skull quickly subverted a HYDRA cell to his own ambitions of world conquest and the death of Captain America.

Created by Jack Kirby, Joe Simon and France Herron, Red Skull made his first appearance in 1941’s Captain America Comics #1, in the tale “The Riddle of the Red Skull.”   His backstory was later told in Tales of Suspense #66 (1965) and Captain America #298 (1984).  Johann Schmidt/Red Skull was portrayed by Hugo Weaving in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011).


Red Tornado

First written by Gardner Fox and drawn by Dick Dillin in 1968, Red Tornado is possibly the DC Comics character that experienced the largest alteration from the Golden Age of Comics to the Silver Age, “transforming” from a middle-aged housewife to a futuristic android.  The character is just one example of DC Comics modernizing a Golden Age character by putting a science fiction spin on the original, as science fiction was a major influence at the dawn of the Silver Age.  Prior to the changes, the Tornado Tyrant a.k.a. the Tornado Champion, the android created by supervillain T.O. Morrow to infiltrate the Justice Society of America, first appeared in Mystery In Space Vol. 1 #61.  Red Tornado’s updated storyline turned him into a noble superhero and member of the Justice League of America.  The “new” Red Tornado first appeared in Justice League of America Vol. 1 #64.  Red Tornado is an air elemental, housed in an android shell.  He can create powerful air currents that can level huge skyscrapers in seconds.  He channels air and wind forces through his arms and legs to produce bursts of cyclone-force winds and high-speed flight.  He can also absorb air.  He is super-strong and very durable.  A few times, Red Tornado actually managed to become invisible to the human eye due to his high velocity movement (akin to The Flash’s abilities).  His android form gives him resistance to various mental powers that have a biological basis (such as mind control), but he can be affected by other telepathic abilities.  Red Tornado was portrayed by Iddo Goldberg in the CBS series Supergirl in 2015.



Billing itself as “The Front Page of the Internet,” Reddit allows its users (or “redditors”) to vote on which stories and discussions are important or topical, with the hottest stories rising to the top of the discussion boards and the cooler stories sinking lower on the list.  User comments can be posted on any and every story, and anyone can create a community (called “subreddits”).  Each subreddit is independent and moderated by a team of volunteers.  Reddit is an open source software community, where members are allowed to update and contribute features.


An expendable stock character, typically killed or otherwise disposed of shortly after being introduced.  The term originated as a reference to red-shirted security officers from the original Star Trek television series, who notoriously perished within minutes of being introduced.


Reeve, Christopher

The well-known actor and director was born September 25, 1952 in New York City.  He studied at Cornell University and the Juilliard School (where he was roommate and friend to comedian-actor Robin Williams), and had various stage and television roles (including a 1974-76 run as the villainous Ben Harper on the daytime serial Love of Life) before becoming the star of 1978’s Superman: The Movie and its sequels, a role which made him an icon.  In 1995, Reeve was paralyzed from the neck down following a horse-riding accident.  Reeve continued to work after his accident and during his ongoing rehabilitation, appearing in films like the 1998 television remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, and he directed two television films with health themes, In the Gloaming (1997) and The Brooke Ellison Story (2004).  His autobiography Still Me was published in 1998, and in that same year, he founded the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation to promote spinal cord injury research.  A hero on screen and later a hero in life, Christopher Reeve died from cardiac arrest on October 10, 2004.  He was survived by his wife Dana (who passed away in 2006) and their son William, as well as his son Matthew and daughter Alexandra.


Reid, Britt

Son of wealthy newspaper editor Daniel Reid, publisher of Chicago’s newspaper The Sentinel, Britt is also the descendant of the Wild West hero known as the Lone Ranger.  Reid excelled in athletics and academics in school.  Before following in his father’s footsteps, Reid decided to travel the world and do some good, but his travels showed him the horrible truths of the world.  After barely escaping Africa with his life for speaking out against ruling warlords, Britt found himself in China.  He was trapped here by the invasion of the Imperial Japanese Army.  It was here that he saved a man named Kato’s life from the Japanese.  In return, Kato offered himself to Britt as a servant and protector.  The men became good friends and returned to America.  Inspired to fight crimes against the innocent, Britt took on the identity of The Green Hornet to go up against Chicago’s organized crime while working as The Sentinel’s editor.  Britt and Kato worked for five years together fighting crime.  After taking all of the crime families of Chicago down, Britt finally hung up the mask to spend more time with his wife Janet and son, Britt Jr.  Continuing as editor for The Sentinel well into his old age, Britt was betrayed by his one-time ally and friend Frank Scanlon.  In order to ensure his re-election as mayor, Frank betrayed Britt’s identity to Green Hornet’s old enemy Oni Juuma. With this information, Oni’s son Hirohito (disguised as the Black Hornet) killed Britt at the campaign party Britt was throwing for his friend.

In the Now Comics version, Britt Reid was the first Green Hornet, fighting crime all the way through World War II and for a time afterwards.  He eventually retired and his nephew Britt Reid II found out about his identity when his uncle, father and brother went to visit the grave marker of their ancestor who was supposed to be the Lone Ranger, Dan Reid Sr.  As a child, the young Britt was fascinated by his uncle’s tales, but as an adult he had little interest in becoming the Green Hornet.  That all changed in 1968, when two of his friends were assassinated.  One was a senator who was running for President; the other was a Civil Rights activist.



In 1905, Albert Einstein published his Special Theory of Relativity paper, which utilized what is now one of the world’s most well-known equations: E = mc2.  In simpler terms:

E is energy

m is mass

c is the speed of light

So, Einstein’s theory stated that energy equals the mass of an object, multiplied by the squared speed of light.  Energy itself is expressed in many forms in the everyday world.  There is kinetic energy, thermal energy, chemical energy … just to name three.  Regardless of the type, energy is typically expressed in joules.

Mass, as it used here, is defined as an object’s resistance to acceleration.  This resistance is also called inertia.  Mass is commonly thought of as being the same as weight, but is not.  For example, an astronaut’s mass stays the same whether he or she is standing on the Earth or the moon, but his or her weight (being a measure of gravitation experienced by an object) on the moon is only 1/6 or 16.67% of the astronaut’s weight on Earth.

The letter “c” is used to express the speed of light.  It actually stands for “celeritas,” the Latin word for “fast” or “swift.”  In space, the speed of light is approximately 186,300 miles per second, or roughly seven times around the Earth in one second.

What Einstein’s breakthrough tells us is that mass is actually very tightly packed energy.  The human body and any other physical object is simply a gathering of cells, held together by energy.  Therefore, mass is energy, and converting one to the other breaks no natural laws, and is quite conceivable.  In Einstein’s own words, “The equation … showed that very small amounts of mass can be converted into a very large amount of energy, and vice versa.  The mass and energy were, in fact, equivalent.”

To illustrate, think of the Star Trek transporter.  It converts the mass of an object into energy, moves the energy to another location, and then converts the energy back into mass.  While this illustration is rooted in science fiction (so far!), Einstein’s theory showed that such an accomplishment was theoretically possible.


Remi, Georges Proper

See Hergé.



  1. One of the legendary twin sons of the war god Mars and Rhea Silvia, daughter of the king of Alba Longa, Numitor.  Numitor had been deposed by his younger brother Amulius, who forced Rhea to become one of the Vestal Virgins (and thereby vow chastity) in order to prevent her from giving birth to potential claimants to the throne.  Amulius ordered the infant twins Romulus and Remus drowned in the Tiber River, but the trough in which they were placed floated down the river and came to rest at the future site of the Rome, near the Ficus ruminalis, a sacred fig tree of historical times.  There, a she-wolf and a woodpecker—both sacred to Mars—suckled and fed them until they were found by the herdsman   Reared by Faustulus and his wife, Acca Larentia, the twins became leaders of a band of adventurous youths, eventually killing Amulius and restoring their grandfather to the throne.  They subsequently founded a town on the site where they had been saved.  When Romulus built a city wall, Remus jumped over it and was killed by his brother.  The legend of Romulus and Remus probably originated in the 4th century bc and was set down in coherent form at the end of the 3rd century BC.  It contains a mixture of Greek and Roman elements.  The Greeks customarily created mythical eponymous heroes to explain the origins of location names; and by including Mars in the legend, the Romans were attempting to connect their origins with that important deity.  In the early 21st Century, archaeologists discovered remains from the 8th century bc of a cave, possible boundary walls, and a palace that demonstrated parallels between history and legend.  A famous bronze statue of a she-wolf, which is now in the Capitoline Museums in Rome, is believed to date to the early years of the Roman Republic (late 6th to early 5th Century BC); the suckling twins were added in the 16th century AD.  Some scholars, however, have claimed that the statue is from the medieval period.
  2. Sister planet to Romulus, home world of the Romulan race in the Star Trek.



In the original Bram Stoker novel Dracula, Renfield is a poor lunatic in Dr. Seward’s sanitarium who eats small living animals, beginning with flies, then spiders and birds, and soon he asks for a kitten (which Seward will not provide him).  As it turns out, his compulsion for eating living beings derives from his association with Count Dracula, whom he serves, and the resultant belief that he can extend his life by draining the life force of others, as a vampire does.  Ultimately persuaded to betray Dracula to the forces led by Abraham Van Helsing, he is killed as punishment.  On the screen, Dwight Frye took on the role of the vampire’s demented servant in the well-known 1931 film Dracula starring Bela Lugosi.  Renfield then took a considerable break of almost forty years from motion pictures about Dracula, until he made a comeback in 1979 with two films: the dramatic Dracula, with Tony Haygarth in the role, and the comedic Love at First Bite, featuring Arte Johnson as Renfield.  In 1992, Tom Waits played a dramatic version of Dracula’s servant (as “R.M. Renfield”) in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Peter MacNicol played another silly version of the character in Mel Brooks’ Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995), Renfield is now one of the most recognized characters from the novel.



A genetically engineered or artificial being, indistinguishable from a human.  While the word was used regularly in the 1982 film Blade Runner, it does not appear in the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, upon which the film was based.  The movie version is generally noted as the introduction of the word.


Repo! The Genetic Opera

In the year 2056, a global epidemic of organ failures has emerged, paving the way for the emergence of GeneCo, a biotech organ transplant company.  While they do allow payment plans, those who miss their payments are immediately scheduled for mandatory surgical repossession!  Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, this unique 2008 musical film’s screenplay was penned by Darren Smith and Terrance Zdunich, based on their stage musical of the same name, and starred Anthony Head, Paul Sorvino, Sarah Brightman and Shio Wallace (credited as Alexa PenaVega). (This musical should not to be confused with the 2010 Jude Law sci fi film Repo Men, which was written by Eric Garcia, Garrett Lerner and Miguel Sapochnik, based on the 2009 novel The Repossession Mambo, which was written by Garcia.)



See Retroactive continuity.


Retroactive continuity

The common situation in fiction where a new story gives details about events in previous stories, usually leaving the facts the same (thus preserving continuity) while completely changing their interpretation.  For example, in the spring of 1986, the popular primetime soap Dallas revealed that the entire 1985-86 season had been a dream of one of its characters, all so the show could bring a popular character who had been killed off that season back to “life.” Abbreviated “retcon,” the term is believed to have originated in the world of comic book fandom.


Return to the Planet of the Apes


This 1975 NBC Saturday morning animated series was based on the 1968-72 motion picture series, in turn based on Pierre Boulle’s 1963 novel La Planete de Singes (Planet of the Apes).  In this 13-episode series, three astronauts from Earth are caught in a time vortex while in space, and return to Earth in the year 3979.  They discover that their world is now dominated by intelligent apes, including chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas.  The series, directed by Doug Wildey, featured Boulle as a listed writer, along with David H. DePatie and Friz Freleng, and featured the voice talents of Austin Stoker, Philippa Harris, Richard Blackburn, Edwin Mills and Henry Corden.


Reverse engineering

The analysis of the components of a device, in order to learn the details of its design, construction and operation, in order to produce a similar or upgraded version.


Reynolds, Capt. (Sgt.) Malcolm

The central character in the TV show Firefly and the movie based on it, Serenity.  Approximately 500 years in the future, Mal is the owner of a Firefly-class transport spaceship called Serenity, which he and his crew use to haul cargo that is sometimes legal and many times not.  They are also thieves who pull robberies and other illegal crimes whenever necessary to keep the crew fed and the engines running.  During the war for independence from the Alliance, Mal had been a sergeant in the 57th Brigade of the Independents (also known as “Browncoats,” based on their uniforms), who led his platoon into many battles.  Ultimately, he was forced to surrender after the Battle of Serenity Valley on Hera.  Soon after the heartbreaking battle, the Browncoats surrendered and war ended.  Fittingly, Mal holds a deep hatred for the Alliance, and pretty much any and all forms of authority.  Mal lost all sense of hope and faith during the horrific war, and keeping his ship and crew safe is now his main purpose in life.  He also has a sense of nobility about him, helping the weak and those in need when he can.  For example, though it causes him added stress and danger, he willingly shelters Simon and River Tam, wanted fugitives from the Alliance, because Simon is protecting his sister from their torturous studies of her brain.  Mal does think ahead and make plans, but he also has the ability to think on his feet and improvise should his plans go awry.  Mal has very different relationships with the crew members and passengers aboard his ship, with varying levels of trust.  Still, even though Mal has not been a spiritual man since the fall of Serenity Valley and he harasses his passenger Shepherd Book over his chosen field, Mal’s complex personality allows him to listen to Book’s counsel.  Mal is a flawed hero, an honorable thief and a natural leader.  In both Firefly and Serenity, Reynolds was portrayed by Nathan Fillion.



Rhenium is silvery white with a metallic luster.  Its density is exceeded only by that of platinum, iridium, and osmium, and its melting point is exceeded only by that of tungsten and carbon.  It is expensive, but useful as a trace alloying agent.  It is represented by the symbol Re in the Periodic Table of Elements, and its atomic number (and thus, the number of protons in its nucleus) is 75.  It is in the Metallic classification.  The element was discovered by Walter Noddack, Ida Tacke and Otto Berg in 1925 in Germany, when they detected the element in platinum ores and columbite.  The origin of the element’s name comes from Rhenus, the Greek word for the river Rhine.  Rhenium has no biological role, nor does it occur as the free element in nature.  Rhenium is found as minor components in the mineral gadolinite (which contains beryllium) and molybdenite (which contains molybdenum).  In practice, it is extracted commonly as a byproduct from molybdenum smelter flue dust.  Rhenium has a melting point of 3,186 °C (5,767°F) and a boiling point of 5,596°C (10,105°F).  Rhenium’s two isotopes can be used for medical purposes: Re-185 is used for the production of Re-186, which is used to treat bone pain, and Re-187 can be used for the production of Re-188, which is used for cancer therapy and restenosis.


Rhodes, James “Rhodey”


Iron Man’s closest ally, James Rupert Rhodes (known as “Jim” or “Rhodey”) first appeared in Iron Man #118 (1979) and had his origin story told in Marvel ComicsIron Man #144 (1981).  He was a US Marine who served several tours in Southeast Asia while studying to become an aviation engineer.  A soldier with a conscience, he was willing to kill if a mission required it, yet haunted by every life he took.  During one mission, Rhodes’ helicopter was shot down in a jungle and discovered by Iron Man, who had recently escaped from the guerrilla Wong-Chu and needed transportation.  Iron Man helped repair Rhodes’ helicopter and they made it to safety together.  Afterward, Rhodes was approached by Tony Stark, who, claiming to be Iron Man’s “employer,” offered him a job as Stark’s pilot.  When Stark was too inebriated to continue his fight with Magma, he passed out and Rhodes donned the armor becoming Iron Man for the first time.  During his stints as Iron Man, Jim faced threats from foes like Thunderball, the Radioactive Man and the Mandarin.  Rhodes’ time as Iron Man ended when Obadiah Stane blew up Circuits Maximus, killing Morley and injuring Rhodes.  He offered his Iron Man armor back to Tony so he could bring down Stane, but Stark built a new suit of armor instead and faced Stane in a battle that ended with Stane’s suicide.  Stark remained active as Iron Man, and Rhodes resumed his role as his pilot and confidant at the new Stark Enterprises, though he did replace Tony when he began to suffer from nervous system troubles.  Before he suffered from a total nervous system collapse, Tony transferred control of Stark Enterprises to Rhodes and left him his most recent Iron Man suit (nicknamed the “War Machine” armor).  As War Machine, Rhodes rejoined the West Coast Avengers, but resigned after an angry confrontation with Iron Man.  Bonded to a suit of ancient alien Eidolon Warwear armor, Rhodey was forced to battle a mind-controlled Tony Stark, who had become a sleeper agent of Immortus.  Stark gave his life opposing Immortus.

Rhodes went rogue along with five allies, calling themselves “Team War Machine.”  Rhodey sacrificed his life to save a child from an attack; however, at the moment of Rhodes’ death, Suzi Endo (aka Cybermancer) transferred Jim’s consciousness into the waiting clone body.  The cloned Rhodey donned a new suit of War Machine armor to continue his adventures.


A two-dimensional shape of four equal straight sides, the opposite sides of which are parallel and the opposite angles of which are equal.  The diagonals of a rhombus bisect each other at right angles.


Richard I

A popular king in his lifetime, as well as a legendary hero, Richard I, called “Richard the Lionheart(ed),” was born September 8, 1157 in Oxford.  A member of the House of Plantagenet and son of King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, he became the duke of Aquitaine in 1168 and the duke of Poitiers in 1172.  Along with his elder brother Henry (called the “Young King”), and his younger brothers Geoffrey and John, Richard mounted what would become known as The Revolt of 1173-74, when the brothers joined forces against their father.  The revolt lasted eighteen months, with at least twenty castles in England demolished and many towns destroyed, as well as many forces killed, but was a failure, as Henry retained his throne and power.  In 1183, the king’s eldest son Henry died, leaving Richard heir to the throne.  When the king wanted to give Aquitaine (in the southwest of modern-day France) to youngest son John, Richard protested and in 1189, joined forces with Philip II of France against Henry, hounding him to a premature death in July of that year.  Following his father’s death, Richard was made king of England, duke of Normandy and count of Anjou.

During his 10-year reign, he spent only six months in England.  Sparked by Saladin’s 1187 capture of Jerusalem, Richard put everything he could think of up for sale in order to buy arms and join in the Third Crusade (1189-92), famously saying, “I would sell London if I could find a buyer.”  He departed for the Holy Land and in May 1191, the king reached Cyprus, where he married Berengaria, daughter of the king of Navarre.  Once in the Holy Land, Richard emerged as a hero in the Christians’ campaign at Acre.  In September, his victory at Arsuf gave the Crusaders possession of Joppa.  However, quarrels among the French, German and English contingents caused many problems, and although Richard twice led his forces to within a few miles of the city, the Crusade’s main objective, the recapture of Jerusalem, eluded him.  After a year’s stalemate, Richard made a truce with Saladin in September 1192 that permitted the Crusaders to hold Acre and a thin coastal strip, as well as giving Christian pilgrims free access to the holy places.

Upon completion of the truce, Richard started on his journey home.  In December 1192, bad weather drove him ashore near Venice, and he was imprisoned by Duke Leopold of Austria before being handed over to the German emperor Henry VI, who ransomed him for the enormous sum of 150,000 marks.  Released in February 1194, Richard returned to England and, fearing that the ransom payment had compromised his independence, was crowned for a second time.  He left for Normandy in March 1194, never to return to England.  His last five years were spent in intermittent warfare against former ally Philip II.  While laying siege to the castle of Châlus in central France, he was fatally wounded and died on April 6, 1199.  Buried in Fontevraud Abbey in Rouen, France, where Henry II and Eleanor are also interred, Richard I was succeeded by his younger brother John, who had spent the years of Richard’s absence from England scheming against him.

Despite his lingering legendary status, Richard has been vilified by more recent historians and scholars.  The 19th Century scholar William Stubbs called Richard “a bad son, a bad husband, a selfish ruler and a vicious man.”  The 20th Century British historian Sir Steven Runciman echoed this view by calling Richard “a bad son, a bad husband, a bad king.”  He has been labeled as irresponsible, hot-tempered, and capable of great cruelty.  Despite this, Imad al-Din, a contemporary Muslim historian wrote of Richard: “Never have we had to face a bolder or more crafty opponent.”  Ibn Al-Athir, one of the finest Islamic historians, drew this conclusion: “His cunning, courage, energy and patience made him the most remarkable man of his time.”


Richard III

The deformed king of England, known as “the hunchback king,” was born on October 2, 1452 at Fotheringhay Castle.  He ruled for only two years (1483-85) and died at the age of 32 as the last English king to lose his life on the battlefield.  Portrayed rather unflatteringly in both English history and English literature, Richard is believed to have murdered his own two nephews to usurp the throne.

Killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field on August 22, 1452, Richard was the last monarch from the House of York, as the battle would end of War of the Roses and the Middle Ages.  According to accounts of the battle, Richard abandoned his horse after it became stuck in a mire.  Suffering 11 injuries, his death was most likely due to two injuries to the skull.  Though royal, Richard’s body was given to monks, who buried him in a shallow and uneven grave.  His final resting place was unknown for over 500 years, until his remains were discovered in 2012 by archaeologists from the University of Leicester.  The ruler’s bones were discovered under a parking lot, and subsequently reburied at Leicester Cathedral, very near where his remains were discovered.  His colorful and rather dubious life inspired the 1592 tragedy Richard III by William Shakespeare.


Richards, Reed

One of the bravest adventurers and most brilliant scientific minds of his generation, Richards took college-level courses at age 14 and attended four different universities, earning various degrees while still in his teens.  He roomed with football scholarship student Ben Grimm, who became Reed’s best friend.  Later, while attending Columbia, Reed met his landlady’s niece, the much younger Sue Storm, who was instantly smitten with him.  They later dated steadily during Sue’s college years; Reed also befriended Sue’s kid brother, Johnny.  Reed secured government funding for his starship project and asked Ben, now a successful test pilot and astronaut, to fly the mission.  Reed was more determined than ever to further the advance of space technology, and he convinced a reluctant Ben to help him make a test flight before their project could be shut down.  Sue and Johnny Storm insisted on sharing the risk with them and came along for the ride.  The quartet successfully launched into space, but intense cosmic rays penetrated the ship’s shielding and irradiated the crew, forcing them back to Earth. Once there, the quartet discovered that the cosmic rays had mutated them into superhumans, with Reed gaining stretching powers. As Mister Fantastic, leader of the resultant Fantastic Four, Reed used his scientific genius, remaining family fortune and the income from his patents to fund and equip the new team, establishing their high-tech headquarters in the Baxter Building.  Reed led the Fantastic Four against many foes, notably Namor the Sub-Mariner, the Wizard, and Reed’s old college foe Victor Von Doom, who had become the armored super-villain Doctor Doom.  Reed and Susan’s first child, Franklin, proved to be a vastly powerful mutant, whose fluctuating abilities alternately saved and menaced both the FF and the world, forcing Reed to take steps to contain Franklin’s powers. Later, seeking a more normal family life, Reed and Sue established a household in small town Belle Port, Connecticut for a while, living quietly in disguise there as the Benjamin family while continuing to serve with the FF in their original identities.

After his and Sue’s second child was stillborn despite his own frantic efforts to save it, Reed discovered that his own long-lost father Nathaniel was living a new life with a new family on Other Earth.  Seeking a normal family life themselves, Reed and Sue retired from the FF, but their retirement was short-lived.  At one point, the FF broke up, Reed and Sue split up, and Reed was even forced to sign over most of his patents to the government as part of a deal to escape prosecution.  Tony Stark took the lead in a Superhero Registration initiative and Reed joined him.  This created a rift between Reed and Sue that expanded when Sue soon left and joined the anti-Registration side, led by their mutual friend, Captain America.  Despite finding himself on the winning side, Reed has been left to put back together the pieces of a family and a team that each joined against him before surrendering to the law.  Reed Richards has been portrayed on the big screen by Ioan Gruffud in Fantastic 4 (2005) and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), and by Miles Teller in Fantastic Four (2015).


Riff Raff

Credited as “a handyman,” but more like Dr. Frank N. Furter’s personal butler in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Riff Raff is a shady character who seems to be up to something throughout the musical “monster” movie.  Played by the creator of the stage show Richard O’Brien, Riff Raff eventually turns the tables on his “boss,” and takes command of the raunchy band of aliens.



A series of DVDs and MP3 tracks that feature the voices of former Mystery Science Theater 3000 stars/writers Bill Corbett, Kevin Murphy and Mike Nelson (L-R, above),  commentating and heckling (known as “riffing”) as some of the silliest movies ever made play.  While “MST3K” focused on older movies from the ‘50s to the ‘70s, RiffTrax (and, in particular, the MP3 tracks) mock films from the past as well as recent blockbusters.  Founded in 2006 when Nelson partnered with Legend Films, RiffTrax debuted with a solo commentary track which could be downloaded and played along with the Patrick Swayze film Road House.  It proved a great success, and Mike was soon joined by his former co-stars.  Together, they have produced hundreds of titles for such blockbusters series as Twilight, Harry Potter, Star Wars and Star Trek.  They also continue to tackle classic B-movie fare such as Plan 9 from Outer Space, Carnival of Souls, and House on Haunted Hill, as well as many hilarious educational shorts from the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s.  The trio takes the stage several times a year to perform “RiffTrax Live!,” which is beamed via satellite to 500 theaters nationwide.


Riker, Capt. William Thomas (“Will”)

According to Star Trek: The Next Generation, the captain of the U.S.S. Titan was born William Thomas Riker on August 19, 2335 in Valdez, Alaska, Earth, Milky Way, to Kyle and Betty Riker.  He graduated eighth in his class from Starfleet Academy in 2357, and as an ensign, was first assigned to the U.S.S. Pegasus test project under Capt. Erik Pressman.  In 2362, while assigned to the U.S.S. Potemkin, Riker was decorated and promoted to lieutenant commander for his rescue of the ship’s away team on Nervalla IV.  In short order, he was named first officer of the U.S.S. Hood under Capt. Robert DeSoto.  Only two years later, he was promoted to commander and named first officer of U.S.S. Enterprise under Capt. Jean-Luc Picard.  Via time warp, Riker was involved in a historical event in 2063, when, during an attempt to repair damage to Earth’s historical timeline due to temporal sabotage by Borg, Riker acted as a replacement flight crewmember for Zefrem Cochran during his first warp test of the Phoenix, and was witness to Earth’s first contact with an alien race, the Vulcans.  Later stationed on Betazed, his mission there ended in 2362 with a posting that would launch a rapid rise in his career.  Sent to the U.S.S. Potemkin in 2362 as a lieutenant, he proved unorthodox again in avoiding a confrontation by hanging over a planet’s magnetic pole to confuse an opposing ship’s sensors. Only six weeks after coming aboard, though, he barely escaped from Nervala IV, where his rescue of crewmates led to a promotion and a switch from operations to command division, where he eventually became first officer of the U.S.S. Hood under Captain Robert DeSoto.  From there, he was promoted to commander and picked sight unseen from among 50 candidates by Jean-Luc Picard as his first officer on the new Galaxy-class U.S.S. Enterprise; in fact, the two had not met until he signed aboard at Farpoint Station, after he was dropped off by the Hood.  Riker was so satisfied with his assignment under Picard that he twice turned down commands of his own, although he temporarily took a field promotion to captain during the Borg crisis of 2366-67, when Picard was abducted.

Riker’s major personal relationship involved Enterprise Counselor Deanna Troi, who began calling him “imzadi,” her native word for “beloved,” after they met during his Betazed mission.  He had last seen her there the day before he shipped out on the U.S.S. Potemkin in 2362, but it would be two years before they were reunited again as fellow officers on the U.S.S. Enterprise, unbeknownst to Picard.  They had planned to get together six months after his departure, but the Nervala IV incident changed that.  Riker professed a warm friendship for Troi in later years that occasionally blossomed into romance, but they generally stayed platonic — although Worf’s surprising courtship of her in 2370 seemed never to have settled well with him.  Eventually, after their romance was rekindled during the Ba’ku assignment (as shown in Star Trek: Insurrection), Riker and Troi were wed (as shown in Star Trek: Nemesis).



Possibly the most popular mass market war game ever created, Risk was introduced in 1959.  Designed by Albert Lamorisse and Michael I. Levin, the goal of the game is, quite simply, the conquest of the world.  Designed for 2-6 players ages 8 and up, each player’s army gains reinforcements through number of territories held and attacks other players’ armies to obtain their territories, the outcome of each attack being decided with a simple highest-dice-roll-wins rule.


rmsg program

An early internet chat program designed by Jyrki Kuoppala, designed to send messages to people on other machines, mainly used for person-to-person communications.



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