S – Sm

SaaS
See Software as a Service.

 

Sabretooth

       

Little is known about the early life of the feral mutant from Marvel ComicsX-Men series who was born with the name Victor Creed, although it is believed that he suffered an abusive childhood at the hands of his father, who was disgusted by the boy’s mutant nature.  As an adult, Creed took the name Sabretooth, and by the 1910s he was known by this name in a small Canadian frontier community where he intimidated almost everyone.  Little is known about Sabretooth’s activities until the early 1960s, when he served in Team X, a special intelligence unit run by the CIA.

In recent years, Sabretooth, always a violent man, gradually began developing a psychotic bloodlust that overcame his human persona.  As a result of this further mutation, Sabretooth’s features became more animal-like, a condition which eventually corrected itself.  Later, Sabretooth formed a partnership with the costumed criminal the Constrictor on an assignment for the crime lord Montenegro.  However, driven by his hunger for violence, Sabretooth disguised himself and slew several people in New York City, resulting in reports of a mysterious “Slasher.”  When Sabretooth was exposed as the Slasher, he and the Constrictor found themselves fighting Iron Fist, Power Man, Misty Knight and El Aguila.  Sabretooth and the Constrictor were forced to retreat, however the pair later sought revenge on Misty Knight, only to again meet defeat at the hands of Power Man and Iron Fist.  Sabretooth was kidnapped from his captivity in Wakanda by an unknown individual. He was brought to the former Department H (Weapon X) facility, where Wolverine found him in a cryogenic tank similar to the one that Wolverine was in when he was transformed by Weapon X.  Sabretooth broke free and killed a de-powered Feral, and severely wounded her sister Thornn.  Sabretooth appeared to be more feral and vicious than ever before, and it was revealed that his captor was Romulus, an individual who has an unexplainable connection to both Logan and Creed.

Sabretooth has had many clashes with Wolverine in the latter’s capacity as an agent of the Canadian government’s Department K.  At some point, Sabretooth took up the practice of annually stalking Wolverine on the day Wolverine believed to be his birthday.  In the course of the so-called “Mutant Massacre,” Sabretooth and Wolverine fought several times, with Sabretooth/Creed ultimately meeting defeat when faced Wolverine, who was wielding the muramasai blade which negated both of their healing factors; Logan beheaded Creed, seemingly ending his life.  Created by writer Chris Claremont and artist/co-writer John Byrne, Sabretooth’s first appearance was in Iron Fist #14 (1977), and his origin story was told in Sabretooth: Death Hunt #1-4 (1993).

 

Safe mode

A specific way for the Windows operating system to load when there is a system-critical problem interfering with the normal operation of Windows.  In Safe mode, the computer is started in a limited state, in which only the basic files and drivers necessary to run Windows are started.  Safe mode allows the user to troubleshoot the operating system to determine what is not functioning properly.  To start in safe mode, a user presses the F8 key while the system is booting and selects “Safe mode” from the menu that appears.

 

 

“Saffron”

One alias of a con woman, also known as “Bridget” and “Yolanda,” who was introduced in the Firefly episode “Our Mrs. Reynolds” and would reappear in the episode “Trash.”  At first seen as the new (and unintentional!) bride of Capt. Malcolm Reynolds, then as the new bride of Mal’s associate Monty, Saffron’s ultimate goals tended to be of the material and valuable type, such as ships and collectible weaponry, which she would finagle from her new “husbands.”  Saffron was portrayed by Christina Hendricks.

 

Sagan, Carl

Born November 9, 1934 in Brooklyn, New York, Sagan’s interest in astronomy began early on, and when he was five his mother sent him to the library to find books on the stars.  Soon after, his parents took him to the New York World’s Fair, where visions of the future piqued his interest further.  He also quickly became a fan of the prevalent 1940s science-fiction stories in pulp magazines, and was drawn in by reports of flying saucers that suggested extraterrestrial life.  In 1951, Sagan graduated high school at the age of 16, and headed to the University of Chicago, where experiments he conducted drove his fascination with the possibility of alien life.  In 1955, Sagan graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Physics, then earned his Master’s a year later.  After obtaining a Ph.D. in Astronomy and Astrophysics, landing at the University of California – Berkeley as a fellow in Astronomy. There, he helped a team develop an infrared radiometer for NASA’s Mariner 2 robotic probe.

During the 1960s, Sagan’s work at Harvard University and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory centered on the physical conditions of our solar system’s planets, particularly those of Venus and Jupiter.  In 1968, Sagan became the director of Cornell University’s Laboratory for Planetary Studies, and three years later, he became a full professor.  Working again with NASA, Sagan helped choose where the Viking probes would touch down on Mars, and helped craft the messages from Earth that were sent out with the Pioneer and Voyager probes, which were sent out beyond our solar system to greet other cultures.  While still in his thirties, Sagan began speaking out on a range of controversial issues, such as interstellar flight, the idea that aliens visited the Earth thousands of years ago, and that creatures resembling “gas bags” live high in Venus’ atmosphere.  He also testified before Congress during this period about UFOs and proposed terraforming Venus into a habitable world for Earthlings.

In 1968, Sagan served as a consultant on the Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey, although that post was short-lived, due to a clash of personalities.  Sagan published The Cosmic Connection: An Extraterrestrial Perspective (1973), Other Worlds (1975), the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence (1977), and his 1985 novel Contact (which was made into a 1997 film starring Jodie Foster).  In 1980, Sagan co-founded the Planetary Society, an international nonprofit organization focusing on space exploration, and also launched the hugely influential TV series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which he wrote and hosted. He also wrote a companion book of the same name to accompany the series, and Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space (1994), the sequel to Cosmos.

Sagan also added his voice to political goals, including a campaign for nuclear disarmament, and he was a vocal opponent of President Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (also known as SDI or “Star Wars”).  In 1983, he co-wrote a paper that introduced the concept of “nuclear winter,” followed the next year by his co-authored book The Cold and the Dark: The World After Nuclear War.

Over the course of Sagan’s career, he was honored several times, notably receiving NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal (1977, 1981) and the National Academy of Sciences’ Public Welfare Medal (1994), among dozens of others.  Sagan died of pneumonia, a complication of the bone marrow disease myelodysplasia, on December 20, 1996, at age 62.  Eighteen years later, Cosmos was brought back to TV, this time with Neil DeGrasse Tyson taking on hosting duties.

 

Sailor Moon

In this popular manga series, 8th grade schoolgirl Tsukino Usagi saves a cat with a crescent moon on its forehead.  The cat later appears in her room, and as it turns out, can talk!  She introduces herself as Luna and gives the dubious Usagi the ability to transform into Sailor Moon, a legendary soldier of justice who, together with other Sailor Soldiers, defends the Earth and the galaxy.  Sailor Moon was turned into a 1995-2000 anime series.

 

Schrödinger’s cat

A “thought experiment” presented by Nobel Prize-winning Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in his work regarding quantum theory, to explain the flawed interpretation of quantum superposition.  The experiment essentially states that an object in a physical system can simultaneously exist in all possible configurations, but observing the system forces the system to collapse and forces the object into just one of those possible states. Schrödinger disagreed with this interpretation, and wanted people to imagine that a cat, poison, a Geiger counter, radioactive material, and a hammer were inside a sealed container.  The amount of radioactive material was minuscule enough that it only had a 50/50 shot of being detected over the course of an hour. If the Geiger counter detected radiation, the hammer would smash the poison, killing the cat. Until someone opened the container and observed the system, it was impossible to predict if the cat’s outcome. Thus, until the system collapsed into one configuration, the cat would exist in some superpositioned zombie state of being both alive and dead.

While many people incorrectly assume Schrödinger supported the premise behind the thought experiment, he really didn’t.  His entire point was that it was impossible.

 

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (film)

Based on the popular manga series Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, the film centers around Scott, who plays in a band, and while he dates Knives Chau, a high-school girl five years younger, he still hasn’t recovered from being dumped by his former girlfriend, who is now a success with her own band.  When Scott falls for Ramona Flowers, he runs into problems trying to break up with Knives.  As if juggling two women wasn’t enough trouble, Ramona comes with a bit of baggage: seven ex-lovers, each of whom Scott must battle to the death in order to win her!

 

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (manga)

A popular, award-winning indie comic series about a Canadian youth whose slacker life is thrown into chaos when American ninja delivery girl Ramona Flowers starts using his dreams as a shortcut to other places.  In order to date her, Scott has to defeat her seven evil ex-boyfriends in battle … and quite possibly get a life.  The popular manga series was turned into Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (film).

 

Scritching
In the world of the furry fetish, the act of participating in an orgy dressed as a furry animal.

 

Scylla

In Greek mythology, a beautiful sea nymph with whom the sea god Glaucus fell in love.  When Glaucus went to the witch Circe to ask her to cast a love spell on Scylla, a jealous Circe instead transformed her into a ferocious sea monster.  Scylla had six heads, each with three rows of sharp teeth.  Varying legends relate that her body was made out of several growling dogs, twelve feet of tentacles, or both.  Scylla couldn’t move from her rock, forever stuck on the Strait of Messina, instinctively devouring anything or anyone edible that sailed by.  Her necks would extend out to passing ships and grab sailors, crushing them against the rocks beneath her before she swallowed them.  Together with the whirlpool Charybdis, Scylla guarded the Strait, which lies between Italy and Sicily.  Sailors who dared to travel the strait would have to choose between risking their lives with one or the other.  Odysseus lost six of his men when passing by Scylla in Homer’s The Odyssey.  This legend is referenced in the popular 1980s tune by The Police “Wrapped Around Your Finger,” in which the lyrics state “You consider me a young apprentice/Caught between the Scylla and Charybdis.”

 

Search engine

Programs that search documents for keywords and return a list of the documents where the keywords were found.

 

Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI)
In 1959, Cornell physicists Giuseppi Cocconi and Philip Morrison published an article in Nature in which they pointed out the potential for using microwave radio to communicate with space, if, indeed, there were beings out in space to receive such communications.  Meanwhile, Frank Drake, a young radio astronomer, had independently reached the same conclusion, and in the spring of 1960, he conducted the first microwave radio search for signals from other solar systems.  For two months, Drake aimed an 85-foot West Virginia antenna in the direction of two nearby sun-like stars.  His single-channel receiver was tuned to the frequency of 1,420 MHz, the 21 cm line of neutral hydrogen, which was a spot on the radio dial also favored by Cocconi and Morrison because of its astronomical significance.  While he didn’t detect any signal of extraterrestrial origin, Drake’s “Project Ozma” spurred the interest of others in the astronomical community, most immediately the Russians.

At the beginning of the 1970s, NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California began to consider the technology required for an effective search.  A team of outside experts, under the direction of Bernard Oliver, on leave from the Hewlett-Packard Corporation, produced a comprehensive study for NASA known as “Project Cyclops.”  As the perception grew that SETI had a reasonable prospect for success, Americans began to observe.  Many radio astronomers conducted searches, using existing antennas and receivers. Some of the efforts, employing improved technology, have continued to the present time.  Foremost among these are the Planetary Society’s Project META, the University of California’s SERENDIP project, and a long-standing observing program at Ohio State University.

By the late 1970s, SETI programs had been established at NASA’s Ames Research Center and at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.  These groups arrived at a dual-mode strategy for a large-scale SETI project.  However, by 1993, Congress terminated funding.  With NASA no longer involved, researchers and interested members of the public saw a diminished chance to answer the profound question addressed by SETI within their lifetimes.  Consequently, the SETI Institute is endeavoring to continue this large-scale program with private funding.

 

Secant

  1. In geometry, a line that intersects a circle at two points.
  2. In trigonometry, the secant of an angle in a right triangle is the length of the hypotenuse divided by the length of the adjacent side.

 

Second Life

A virtual internet world launched in 2003 by Philip Rosedale of Linden Research, Inc., in which “residents” create an identity, meet people, buy land and build or purchase their own environment.  It is a massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG), but one that offers users total freedom to create and interact as if they were living another life.  Once the game is downloaded into their computers, users choose a name and avatar for their resident, and live in The Second Life world, which is configured as a group of islands in the tropics.  Using the keyboard, a user can move his or her resident around at will, and even fly and teleport.  There are countless Second Life cultures and subcultures organized around arts, sports, games and other areas. Groups can be formed that simulate mini-companies and mini-communities. People have found partners and even gotten their Second Life avatars married.

 

Secret Wars

In an effort to better understand the concept of Desire, the omnipotent Beyonder spirited many of Earth’s greatest heroes and villains to do battle on the Battleworld, a planet created from fragments of many different worlds throughout the galaxy.  In this Marvel Comics series, the winners would achieve their hearts’ desires.

 

Sega Dreamcast

A video game console manufactured as a successor to the Sega Saturn.  It was the first machine released in what is now known as the sixth generation of video game consoles, peering PlayStation 2, Nintendo GameCube and Xbox. The Dreamcast had an arcade counterpart, the Sega NAOMI (which, in turn, was succeeded by the Sega Hikaru and NAOMI 2).  The Dreamcast was Sega’s last home console, developed primarily to regain Western trust in the Sega brand, which had been reduced following the dismal performance of the Sega Mega-CD, Sega 32X and Sega Saturn.  However, the innovative features of the Dreamcast, along with a strong library of games, has ensured a large, dedicated fanbase, to the extent that Dreamcast games are still being released commercially today.

 

Seiyuu
A Japanese voice actor in movies, television series, radio and video games.  The word is a shortened version of the kanji (Japanese words written out in Chinese characters) used for “voice actor.”

 

Semiconductor

  1. A substance, usually a solid chemical element or compound, which can conduct electricity under certain (but not all) conditions, making it a good medium for the control of an electrical current.  Its conductance varies depending on the current or voltage applied to a control electrode, or on the intensity of irradiation by infrared (IR), visible light, ultraviolet (UV), or X rays.


2. A device which can perform the function of a vacuum tube, but with hundreds of times the volume of a tube. A single integrated circuit, such as a microprocessor chip, can do the work of a set of vacuum tubes that would fill a large building and require its own electric generating plant.

 

Sentry, The

See Void, The.

 

Serling, Rod

The legendary television writer and producer was born Rodman Edward Serling on December 25, 1924 in Syracuse, New York, but when he was two years old, his family moved to the quiet college town of Binghamton.  After high school, Serling enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War II, with the aim of fighting the Nazis in Europe.  Contrary to his intention, he ended up becoming a paratrooper in the Pacific theater.  During the war, Serling was injured in his knee and wrist at the Battle of Leyte in the Philippines.  He was sent home with a Purple Heart and emotional battle scars that would haunt him for the rest of his days.

In 1948, Serling moved to New York City and entered the work world as a struggling freelance radio writer.  In 1955, he branched out into television script writing with the TV business drama Patterns, which earned Serling his first Emmy Award.  Serling’s second Emmy win came a year later, with the 1956 production of Requiem for a Heavyweight, starring Jack Palance.  During the late 1950s, Serling fought the CBS network when they insisted on editing his controversial scripts.  CBS got its way and heavily revised his script about lynching entitled A Town Has Turned to Dust, and another about corruption in a labor union called The Rank and File.  Instead of continuing to fight inevitable censorship, in 1959 Serling turned from realism to the sci-fi fantasy genre, with the iconic series The Twilight Zone.  Not only did Serling write the series, but he served as its on-screen narrator.  The Twilight Zone ran until 1964 and garnered Serling his third Emmy.  In 1968, Serling co-wrote the screenplay for the original Planet of the Apes film.  After a stint of screenwriting, he returned to television writing in 1970.

Serling spent his later career hosting Rod Serling’s Night Gallery and teaching screenwriting at Ithaca College.  Over the course of his career, Serling wrote an estimated 252 scripts and won a total of six Emmys.  While Serling worked 12 hours a day seven days a week, his wife, Carol, whom he had met at Antioch College, tended to their daughters, Jodi and Anne.  In May of 1975, Serling had a heart attack at age 50 while running on a treadmill.  A couple of weeks later, he had a second heart attack, at his cottage on Cayuga Lake, and was sent to the hospital for open-heart surgery.  On June 28, 1975, Rod Serling died at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York.

 

“Seven Commandments of Animalism”

In George Orwell’s classic novel Animal Farm, the Seven Commandments Snowball and Napoleon sent for a ladder which they caused to be set against the end wall of the big barn. They explained that by their studies of the past three months the pigs had succeeded in reducing the principles of Animalism to Seven Commandments. These Seven Commandments would now be inscribed on the wall; they would form an unalterable law by which all the animals on Animal Farm must live for ever after. With some difficulty (for it is not easy for a pig to balance himself on a ladder) Snowball climbed up and set to work, with Squealer a few rungs below him holding the paint-pot. The Commandments were written on the tarred wall in great white letters that could be read thirty yards away. They ran thus:

  1. Whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy.
  2. Whatever goes upon four legs or has wings is a friend.
  3. No animal shall wear clothes.
  4. No animal shall sleep in a bed.
  5. No animal shall drink alcohol.
  6. No animal shall kill any other animal.
  7. All animals are equal.

After the pigs take over the farm and seek to become more like the humans, they slowly change the rules until they become:

  1. Two legs are better than four.
  2. Whatever goes upon four legs or has wings is inferior.
  3. (While this rule is never officially changed, the pigs all end up wearing clothes.)
  4. No animal shall sleep in a bed with sheets.
  5. No animal shall drink alcohol to excess.
  6. No animal shall kill any other animal without cause.
  7. All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

 

Sewer Urchin

 A somewhat-super superhero from the animated Ben Edlund series The Tick, Sewer Urchin is the sworn defender of The City’s sewer sytem.  With a Rain Man-inspired demeanor, the Urchin frequently utilizes terms such as “Yeah” and “Definitely.”  He is somewhat unpopular with many superheroes from the surface, including Die Fledermaus, who calls him “Stinky.”  However, in the episode “The Tick vs. Filth,” The Tick and Arthur  find out that he lives in a luxurious underground expanse, filled with things he found in the sewers – including a vast sum of money – and he is also revealed to have many crime-fighting gadgets and outfits.  Once in his comfort zone, his personality is much less Rain Man-esque, and much more sophisticated and intelligent.

 

Sexting
The sending of sexually explicit photos, images, text messages and/or e-mails via use of a cellular telephone or other mobile device.

 

Shareware

Software that is distributed without an initial charge, but for which the user is encouraged to pay a nominal fee for continued use, to cover the costs of support.

 

Shaun of the Dead

When the dead rise to walk the streets of London, slacking boyfriend Shaun sets out to rescue his (about-to-be-ex-)girlfriend and his mother.  As they and a few friends fight for their lives armed with pool cues, bar stools and an antique rifle, they are slowly whittled down by the encroaching hordes of undead, who are desperate to get into the pub and eat the survivors.  The 2004 zombie horror-comedy stars Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Kate Ashfield.

 

Shock Treatment

Billed as “Not a sequel, not a prequel, but an equal” to Rocky Horror Picture Show, this musical chronicle of the further adventures of Brad and Janet was written and directed by Jim Sharman, with book and lyrics by RHPS creator Richard O’Brien.  The film, which was released October 20, 1981, featured Cliff DeYoung (who originated the role of Brad Majors in the original stage version, The Rocky Horror Show), Jessica Harper as his wife Janet, and featured Rocky Horror alums Patricia Quinn and Nell Campbell (aka Little Nell).

 

Shotacon

A subgenre of anime/manga which includes animation, drawings and paintings of underage boys in sexual acts, typically with adult males.  Originating in Japan, shotacon originally only featured Japanese boys, but now includes Americans, as well.  In rare cases, relationships are depicted as entirely nonsexual, but these are not usually classified as “true” shotacon.  The term “shotacon” is short for Shōtarō complex, which is named for the boy hero of Tetsujin 28-go (or Tetsujin 28-gou), a 1956 manga series which became the 1963-66 television animated series also known as Gigantor.

 

Shōtarō complex

See Shotacon.

 

Sierpinski triangle

A fractal based on a triangle with four equal triangles inscribed in it. The central triangle is removed and each of the other three treated as the original was, and so on, creating an infinite regression in a finite space.

 

Silicon Valley

Encompassing the San Francisco Bay area surrounding Palo Alto, Oakland and other neighboring regions, the home of Yahoo!, Google, Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Intuit, Silicon Graphics and Sun Microsystems began in 1939 in a Palo Alto garage.  There, Stanford alums William Hewlett and David Packard, encouraged by their professor and mentor Frederick Terman, started an electronics company.  Today, that garage is known as “the Birthplace of Silicon Valley.”  For the next sixty years, Stanford and Silicon Valley would become a fountain of innovation, from which advances in research and many modern vital companies would emerge to make the region one of most productive high-tech areas in the world.

In 1947, professor William W. Hansen’s electron linear accelerator prototype would inspire the 1948 creation of the first microwave laboratory.  Varian Associates built a research and development lab on the edge of campus in 1951 that would become the famed Stanford Industrial Park (now known as Stanford Research Park).  In the decade between 1955 and 1965, Stanford embarked on a campaign to build “steeples of excellence,” attracting the world’s most creative students and an overall entrepreneurial spirit.

During the 1960s, not only were two of the university’s most iconic scientific institutions built (the 2-mile-long linear accelerator at SLAC National Laboratory and “the Dish,” a 150-foot diameter radio antenna in the foothills built as a joint venture between the Stanford Research Institute [SRI] and the Air Force), but Professor John Chowning also developed frequency modulation (FM) sound synthesis to digitally generate sounds, leading to the invention of the FM radio frequency and the music synthesizer.

In the early 1970s, professor Vinton Cerf, known as the “father of the internet,” developed with a colleague the transmission control and internet protocols (TCP/IP) that would become the standard for internet communication between computers.

During the 1980s, John Cioffi and his students realized that traditional phone lines could be used for high-speed data transmission, leading to the development of digital subscriber lines (DSL).

In 1991, SLAC physicist Paul Kunz set up the first web server in the U.S. after visiting Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Internet, of course, is central to the story of Silicon Valley.  After Stanford alums Jerry Yang and David Filo founded Yahoo!, another pair of Stanford graduates, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, would develop their “page rank algorithm” and launch Google, destined to become the web’s most popular search engine and one of the world’s most influential companies.  Other legendary companies with strong ties to Silicon Valley include Intuit and GoDaddy.

 

Silmarillion, The

Preceding the conception of The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien’s first Middle-earth novel is the story of that mythical land’s First Age.  It tells the ancient histories which set the stage for the world and action in The Lord of the Rings.  A labor of love throughout Tolkien’s life, it was edited and published posthumously by his son Christopher Tolkien, with the assistance of fantasy fiction writer Guy Gavriel Kay.

 

Silver Age of Comics, The (1956-1970s)

   

Arguably the greatest era in comic book history, The Silver Age emerged around 1956, along with The Atomic Age.  The most iconic versions of heroes/characters that we know and love today were almost all established during this period.  The heroes changed from deities of magic and mystery to self-doubting and flawed creatures of science.  These new space-age characters attracted a new combined audience of children and adults, and the increased readership led to publishers investing in new publishing processes, quality talent, better industry/distribution methods, and these all combined to give rise to better-quality books.  More complex stories spanned multiple issues, and in some cases, multiple titles.  During this period, DC Comics established the “Multiverse,” in which various Earths and parallel realities co-existed.  This concept allowed writers incredible freedom, but also led to inconsistencies and retroactive continuity, or “retcons,” in which continuity mistake were “fixed” by creating new realities.  The Silver Age saw Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko refine the “Marvel Method,” a new cooperative way for writers and artists to collaborate together in the creation of stories.  At the same time, “underground comics” emerged, directly defying the comics industry.  Artists such as Robert Crumb and Dan O’Neill were at the epicenter of anti-establishment comics, creating their own expressionistic art form.

 

Simon, Joe


Marvel Comics writer, editor, illustrator, and most notably a co-creator of the superhero Captain America during World War II, Simon was born in Rochester, New York on October 11, 1913.  He took to drawing at an early age, creating comic strips and cartoons for his high school newspaper and yearbook.  After graduating, he worked in the art department at newspapers in Rochester and Syracuse, learning how to retouch photographs and lay out pages.  He created cartoons and illustrations for the papers’ sports sections, and drawing athletes turned out to be the perfect preparation for drawing superheroes.  He later got a job retouching still photographs of movie stars for Paramount Pictures, and eventually, he began freelancing for glossy magazines, and an editor who admired his work recommended he seek employment in the emerging comics business, which was hungry for artists.  He met his longtime partner Jack Kirby in the late 1930s, when they were both working for the comic book publisher Fox Publications.

After the comic book industry waned in the mid-1950s, Simon worked mostly as a commercial artist and in advertising, though he occasionally returned to comics.  He founded a satirical magazine called Sick in 1960 to compete with MAD magazine, and was its editor for several years.  Simon created or helped to create dozens of characters during the Golden Age of Comics.  He was also the first editor of Timely Comics, which evolved into Marvel Comics. Later, as the popularity of superhero tales dissipated after the war and comics sought to branch out into other narrative genres, he and Kirby created a romance comic book, Young Romance, often credited with being the first of its kind.  They also created a Western comic for adolescents, Boys’ Ranch, and a horror comic, Black Magic, which was unique for its lack of gore.  The pair’s most enduring character was, of course, Captain America, who appeared on newsstands for the first time in December 1940, one year before the United States entered World War II.  On the cover, the patriotic symbol of the United States was portrayed delivering a right cross to Adolf Hitler.  It was Hitler who provided the impetus for the character.  It was Simon’s idea to put Hitler on the cover as the villain.  Simon and Kirby produced ten issues of Captain America for Timely before they ran afoul of the publisher and were fired.  They moved to Detective Comics (later DC Comics), but Captain America stayed at Timely, which would become Marvel Comics.  In 2003, Simon and Marvel reached an agreement that granted him royalties for merchandising and licensing of the character, and ensured that he and Mr. Kirby would be recognized as the creators of the character.  Simon passed away on December 14, 2011 at his home in Manhattan.  He was 98.  He is survived by five children and eight grandchildren.

 

Simpson, Bart

America’s favorite troublemaker Bartholomew Jojo Simpson got an early start: only seconds after he was born, he lit his dad Homer’s tie on fire.  Since making it to grade school, Bart spends a lot of time in detention and writing sentences on the blackboard, much to the satisfaction of Principal Skinner.  When Bart isn’t in school or at home, he’s finding other ways to amuse himself.  Bart suffers from a lack of ambition, something made abundantly clear by his goal to become a “drifter” when he grows up.  Along with a few of his family members, cartoonist Matt Groening‘s Bart Simpson premiered in a short cartoon on The Tracey Ullman Show on April 19, 1987, and the clan’s antics became a regular feature.  After Ullman’s show was canceled, the Simpsons got their own spin-off series, which premiered on Fox in 1989.

 

Sindarin

See Eldarin.

 

Sinestro

Cold, arrogant and harsh, Thaal Sinestro will do whatever it takes to preserve order in the universe, a trait that eventually got him expelled from the Green Lantern Corps.  He is also a master strategist and manipulator.  Originally an anthropologist from the planet Korugar, Sinestro had a natural affinity for order as displayed by his meticulous reconstructions of ancient ruins.  It was at one of these reconstructions that Prohl Gosgotha, a wounded Green Lantern, crash landed.  He gave his ring to Sinestro, who barely defeated the Lantern’s pursuer at the cost of the very ruins he had restored.  When Gosgotha requested his ring back after the battle so that it might keep him alive, Sinestro instead allowed him to die and took his place.  Unaware of his actions, the Guardians allowed Sinestro to become the Green Lantern for sector 1417. As villainous as he is, Sinestro does have his good traits, such as genuinely caring for his daughter and wanting to bring order to the universe.

Sinestro was the finest officer in the Green Lantern Corps. He was respected by his fellow Corpsmen and the Guardians for having a near-perfect space sector. However, during the “Emerald Dawn II” story arc, Sinestro undertook an apprentice named Hal Jordan, after the death of the Green Lantern of Sector 2814 Abin Sur.  Sinestro was disgusted by most of Jordan’s tactics in keeping order and had virtually no tolerance for him.  He completely disregarded the lives of criminals on Earth and would have easily murdered countless imprisoned felons, if it was not for Jordan.  Not too long after showing the new Green Lantern the basics of wielding a Power Ring, Sinestro had to return to his sector.  As much as he didn’t want to, he had to bring Hal with him.

Upon his death, Sinestro transferred his mind into the green central power battery and deactivated it, cutting off the entire Green Lantern Corps from their power source.  Hal Jordan entered the power battery in an attempt to restore the powers of his fellow lanterns. He was able to defeat the spirit of Sinestro and leave him trapped and powerless inside the battery, with the goal being to keep him there for all eternity.  However, Sinestro had one more trick to play on his nemesis.  He was able to “infect” Jordan with the parasite Parallax, the source of the Green Lantern’s weakness against the color yellow.  When Hank Henshaw and the alien warlord Mongul laid waste to Hal Jordan’s beloved Coast City and all of its inhabitants, Jordan was driven mad with grief, allowing the Parallax entity to possess him and led him on a rampage that decimated the Green Lantern Corps and left most of the guardians dead.  In a desperate bid to stop him, the remaining guardians freed Sinestro from the central power battery.  Jordan defeated Sinestro, snapping his neck, but this Sinestro was only a hard light construct, operated by the real Sinestro still trapped inside the battery.  When Hal destroyed the power battery and absorbed most of its energy into him, Sinestro was able to escape and went into hiding.  He came out of hiding after the existence of Parallax was revealed, culminating in the return of Hal Jordan from the dead.  Sinestro was forced to retreat into the anti-matter universe when his ring became damaged in the fight.

Sinestro was created by John Broome and Gil Kane at DC Comics as an enemy of Hal Jordan and the entire Green Lantern Corps.  He first appeared in August 1963 in the comic Green Lantern #7.

 

Singh, Khan Noonien

One of Earth’s most notorious dictators in Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek universe, Khan was a genetically-bred “superman” who rose to power in India of the late 1990s.  At his most powerful, he held dominion over 25% of the planet.  When the people rebelled against the genetic supermen, Khan and a small party of his kind had themselves sent into space aboard the Botany Bay, where they remained in suspended animation until the year 2267, when they were awakened by James T. Kirk and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise.  Khan’s story was originally told in the February 16, 1967 Star Trek episode “Space Seed,” featuring Ricardo Montalban as Khan.  With his fellow survivors and awed crewmember Marla McGivers at his side, Khan attempted to seize the starship.  When that attempt failed, he and his people were sentenced to be transported to the wild M-Class world of Ceti Alpha V, which Khan took as a personal challenge.

As seen in the motion picture Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, six months after being left on Ceti Alpha V, the star system’s sixth planet exploded, and the shockwave wreaked havoc on Ceti Alpha V’s ecosystem, turning it into a desert wasteland.  Holding Kirk personally responsible for not checking on the group’s progress, as well as the subsequent death of McGivers, who had become his wife, Khan (a role Montalban reprised) set out to exact revenge.  Inevitably, though, Khan was again defeated, shouting his defiance at the moment of his death.

In the reboot film Star Trek Into Darkness, Khan is portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch as a man driven by revenge, but not against Kirk.  Kirk and Khan meet under altered circumstances, but in the end, Khan again rages against Kirk, and Kirk defeats his plot.

 

Singularity

A theoretical one-dimensional point in the center of a black hole, a gravitational singularity contains infinite mass in an infinitely small space, where gravity becomes infinite, space-time curves infinitely, and the laws of physics as we know them cease to operate.  As the eminent American physicist Kip Thorne describes it, it is “the point where all laws of physics break down.”  Current theory suggests that as an object falls into a black hole and approaches the singularity at the center, it will become stretched out or “spaghettified” due to the increasing differential in gravitational attraction on different parts of it, before presumably losing dimensionality completely and disappearing irrevocably into the singularity.  However, an observer watching from a safe distance outside would have a different view of the event.  According to relativity theory, they would see the object moving slower and slower as it approaches the black hole until it comes to a complete halt at the event horizon, never actually falling into the black hole.  Although an observer could send signals into a black hole, nothing inside the black hole could ever communicate with anything outside it, so by its very nature, it does not seem likely that we will ever be able to fully describe or even understand a singularity.

 

Sirens


Beautiful but dangerous creatures in Greek mythology who, with their beautiful songs, lured sailors to their doom, causing ships to crash on the reefs near their island.  They were the daughters of the river god Achelous, and their mother may have been Terpsichore, Melpomene, Sterope or Chthon. Although closely linked to marine environments, they were not considered sea deities.  Sources provide different opinions as to their number and their names; some mention two or three, while others mention more.  The Sirens were probably considered the companions of Persephone, daughter of goddess Demeter.  The latter had given them wings in order to protect her daughter; however, after Persephone’s abduction by Hades, Demeter cursed them.  The Sirens’ song is said to have been a beautiful, yet sad melody, eternally calling for Persephone’s return.

The Argonauts encountered the Sirens, but successfully evaded them; Orpheus, who was on board, started playing his lyre so beautifully that the music completely drowned the Sirens’ song.  Another well-known encounter is that described in Homer’s OdysseyOdysseus, advised by Circe, plugged the crew’s ears with wax and ordered them to bind him on the mast of the ship.  He also told them that no matter how much he begged, they should not untie him. When they passed near the Sirens’ island, Odysseus started begging his shipmates to let him go, but none heard him; instead, they tied him even more. After they passed, Odysseus let them know that they were now in safe waters.

 

Sisyphus

In Greek mythology, the mythical founder and first king of Corinth, or Ephyra, as it was called in those days.  He was a cunning trickster, known for his abilities to deceive gods and humans alike.  He was also known as a murderer in his own kingdom, as he would often entertain himself by killing travelers to his city.  Sisyphus was condemned to Tartarus, the deepest, darkest level of the Underworld, by Zeus.  There, he managed to fool Thanatos, the demon responsible for death (or in some versions, Hades himself) by asking him to try out his chains to show him how they worked.  When Thanatos did, Sisyphus secured him in place.  When his prisoner was finally released, Sisyphus was ordered summarily to report to the Underworld for his eternal assignment. The consequence of his imprisonment was that mortals could no longer die. This obviously upset the normal order of things, and especially upset Ares, god of war, who intervened and released Thanatos.  Sisyphus was then deemed guilty of hubris in his belief that he could outsmart the gods, but the wily one had another trick up his sleeve.  Sisyphus had told his wife not to bury him, and then complained to Persephone, queen of the dead, that he had not been accorded the proper funeral honors.  As an unburied corpse, he had no business on the far side of the river Styx, as his wife hadn’t placed a coin under his tongue to secure passage with Charon the ferryman.  Persephone assented, and Sisyphus made his way back to the surface, where he stayed for another good stretch of time; but even this paramount trickster could only postpone the inevitable.  Eventually, he was hauled down to Hades, where his indiscretions caught up with him.  For a crime against the gods (the specifics of which are variously reported), he was condemned to an eternity at hard labor: as punishment, he was condemned to spend eternity rolling a boulder up a hill.  Each time the boulder would near the summit, it would roll back down to the bottom. Sisyphus would then be forced to repeat his task.

 

“Skinjob”
Derogatory term for a replicant, as seen in Blade Runner, the 1982 motion picture version of the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

 

Skyrim

The fifth game in the “Elder Scrolls” line of role-playing games (RPGs), Skyrim features many different classes of avatars: elves, orcs, humans (“nords”), and even lizard-like people.  A player can make all of his or her own armor, as well as weapons, which can include bows, maces, axes and more.  A player takes on quests, which can range from extremely easy to very difficult.

 

Slag code

See Logic bomb.

 

“Slasher”

See Sabretooth.

 

Smigel, Robert

Born February 7, 1960, the New York native comedy writer is one of the longest-lasting writers in Saturday Night Live’s history, on staff since 1985. Some of his parodies and sketches include “Superfans,” “The McLaughlin Group” and the “TV Funhouse” series of cartoon shorts.  Smigel has also written for The Dana Carvey Show (1996) and Late Night with Conan O’Brien.  As an actor, he has had bit parts in such comedies as Wayne’s World 2 (1993) and quite a few Adam Sandler movies, including Billy MadisonHappy GilmoreThe Wedding SingerLittle Nicky, and more dramatic Punch-Drunk Love.  His puppet character “Triumph the Insult Comic Dog” (for which he does the puppeteering and the voice, as well as the writing) has transcended its original arena of Late Night, and appeared in such venues as Christmas specials and award shows, and even put out a comedy album. Some of Smigel’s best work has been in animation. Appearing in tiny bursts on cable and late-night programming, his short cartoon bits include “The Ambiguously Gay Duo,” co-created with comedian Stephen Colbert, and “Fun With Real Audio.”  Smigel eventually had enough bits to launch a whole TV Funhouse show on Comedy Central, for which he acted as creator, executive producer and voice actor.  Aired in eight episodes from 2000-2001, the show was a comedic blend of live-action, puppetry, and animation.  Smigel is also a voice on cable’s Crank Yankers and a writer of many television specials.