Sn – Sz

Sniglet
Debuting in 1983 on the HBO comedy series Not Necessarily the News, sniglets are “words that aren’t in the dictionary, but should be.”  Examples of sniglets are:

disconfect – v., To sterilize the piece of candy you dropped on the floor by blowing on it, somehow assuming this will remove all the germs.

elecelleration – n., The mistaken notion that the more you press an elevator button, the faster it will arrive.

funch – v., To turn a pillow over and over on summer nights, trying to find the cool spot.

hereoglyph – n., The little stick figure on a mall directory that tells you where you are in a mall, often accompanied by the words “You Are Here.”

Created by comedian Rich Hall, a Not Necessarily cast member, sniglets became a pop culture fad throughout the 1980s, with viewers of the show inventing and sending in new sniglets to be added to the growing list.  The fun “new words” appeared in the paperback collections Sniglets (1984), More Sniglets and Sniglets for Kids (both published in 1985), Unexplained Sniglets of the Universe (1986), Angry Young Sniglets (1987), and When Sniglets Ruled the Earth (1989).  Also in 1989, a board game simply titled The Game of Sniglets was released.

 

Society for Creative Anachronisms (SCA)

An international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the skills, arts and activities of pre-17th Century Europe in live-action role-playing events.  What the Society considers its “Known World” consists of 20 kingdoms, with over 30,000 members residing in countries around the world. Members, dressed in clothing of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, attend events which typically feature tournaments utilizing foam weapons, royal courts, feasts, dancing, as well as various classes and workshops.

 

Software as a Service (SaaS)
A software distribution and delivery method that provides access to software and its functions remotely over a network, typically the internet.  Software as a Service allows organizations to access business functionality at a cost typically less than paying for licensed applications since SaaS pricing is based on a monthly fee.  It also removes the need for organizations to handle the installation, set-up and often daily upkeep and maintenance.

 

Southdown Abbey

An abbey on the planet Persephone in the Firefly universe, where Shepherd Derrial Book resided prior to coming aboard the Serenity.

 

Space: 1999

Due to Star Trek’s immense popularity following its 1970s syndication, television producers and audiences discovered a renewed interest in science fiction.  One result was this 1975-77 British series, which debuted in the U.S. on October 17, 1975.  According to the show’s premise, in the then-distant year of 1999, the Earth’s moon hosts Moonbase Alpha, which not only carries on scientific research, but also watches over a huge nuclear waste dump on the far side of the moon. When a colossal thermonuclear explosion occurs, the moon is ripped from its orbit, and sent hurtling through space.  The 311 stranded crewmembers face dynamic adversities as they search for a new home.  The series, which was heavily influenced by Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, was produced by Sylvia and Gerry Anderson (of Thunderbirds fame).  Space: 1999 starred Mission: Impossible alums (and, at the time, married couple) Martin Landau and Barbara Bain, as well as The Fugitive’s Barry Morse.

 

Speech recognition software

See Voice recognition software.

 

Speed of light

Physical and mathematical constant, abbreviated c in most equations, representing the speed at which electromagnetic radiation spreads in a vacuum.  The common value given to this constant is 299,792,458 meters per second.

 

Speed of sound

The velocity at which audio vibrations travel from a source to a receiver.  While the speed of a given sound is affected by temperature, pressure and humidity to some extent, it is an accepted value that in dry air at sea level at 0 degrees Celsius, the speed of sound is approximately 331.4 meters per second.

 

Spock

Spock is a character from the original Star Trek science fiction television series (1966-69) created by Gene Roddenberry.  Spock, an alien from the planet Vulcan, served aboard the starship U.S.S. Enterprise throughout the series, as first officer and science officer under Captain James T. Kirk.  Vulcans live under the disciplines of pure emotionless logic, yet Spock, who was half-human, waged many inner battles between his logical mind and his silenced emotions.

 

Spoiler

Unknown information which, if revealed before someone can learn it for themselves, would possibly ruin an otherwise entertaining experience.  For example, revealing the identity of a murderer in a mystery novel before someone has read it.

 

Star Trek

A unique 1966-69 NBC science fiction series created by Gene Roddenberry, which chronicled “the voyages of the starship Enterprise.”  As well as entertaining an audience which would span generations around the world, Star Trek cleverly touched on many political/social issues of the troubled late 1960s, such as racism, hippies, and the Vietnam conflict.  The original television program, which spawned many other TV and online series, as well as several major motion picture series, starred William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley.

 

Star Trek: Enterprise

The 2001-05 prequel series in Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek franchise focused on the 22nd Century adventures of Captain Jonathan Archer aboard the experimental prototype Enterprise NX-01, Earth’s first vessel designed for long-range exploration of the galaxy, during the early days of interstellar travel.  Prior to the development of warp engines that could reach a velocity of warp 5, missions of this nature were impossible.  At warp 2, only a handful of inhabited planets were within a year’s travel from Earth.  At warp 5, however, that number increased to roughly 10,000, and it was Archer’s ship and crew’s job to visit as many of those worlds as they could.  At 190 meters long (a bit smaller than Captain James T. Kirk’s Enterprise from the original show), the NX-01 carries a crew complement of just 83 men and women.  The crew on this early mission was all human, with the exception of the Vulcan science officer and the Denobulan doctor.  Unlike the starships of the four other Star Trek series, this Enterprise doesn’t have deflector shields or phasers, but it does come equipped with a phase cannon and a rudimentary transporter that functions efficiently … most of the time.  The series (also known simply as Enterprise) starred Scott Bakula, Connor Trinneer, Jolene Blalock and John Billingsley.

 

Star Wars – Episode IV: A New Hope

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away …”  These now-legendary words filled the screen at the beginning of a film that led to a new era of science fiction adventure when it was released on May 25, 1977.  In 1973, George Lucas directed a low-budget film called American Graffiti, which cost less than $1 million to produce and earned $50 million and five Oscar nods including Best Director.  Emboldened by his early success with Graffiti, Lucas was determined to follow through on a dream project that he and his writing partner Gary Kurtz had been working on since 1971: a science fiction film written for a target audience of teenagers.  Directed by Lucas, Star Wars told the story of Luke Skywalker, a young man stuck on his desert planet of Tatooine, but who dreams of joining the Rebellion against the Galactic Empire.  After purchasing two androids (or “droids”), Luke finds a recorded message, which contains the plans for the Empire’s new space station.  Luke and the wise hermit Obi-Wan Kenobi travel with smuggler Han Solo to Princess Leia Organa’s home planet Alderaan.  On the way, Obi-Wan tells Luke of an old order called Jedi knights, who keep and utilize a power called “the Force.”  After Luke is given a lightsaber and begins preliminary Jedi training, the team eventually frees Leia from the Death Star, and brings about the destruction of the space station.

Originally a stand-alone film starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, the wildly popular Star Wars was re-released with the new prologue heading “Episode IV,” and eventually, all six original adventures in Lucas’ storyline were filmed and released.

 

Stark, Tony

The millionaire playboy and electrical engineering genius, who debuted in Marvel ComicsTales of Suspense #39 in March 1963 along with his alter ego Iron Man, is responsible for numerous major discoveries, inventions and achievements in various areas of technology.  As a boy, the heir to Stark Industries was fascinated with building machinery.  At the age of 15, Tony entered the undergraduate electrical engineering program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and graduated with two Master’s degrees by age 19.  Tony began working for Stark Industries, but showed more interest in living the life of a reckless playboy. At the age of 21, Tony inherited his father’s corporation (which would later be known as Stark Enterprises, and eventually Stark International) when his parents were killed in a car accident.

While attending a field test of his military hardware at one of his international plants, Stark’s party was attacked by terrorists.  During the skirmish, a land mine went off and lodged a piece of shrapnel near Tony’s heart. Taken back to Wong-Chu’s camp, Tony shared a cell with Professor Ho Yinsen, a world-famous physicist. Wong-Chu demanded that the two scientists develop advanced weaponry for his forces. Knowing that he could not live long with the shrapnel so close to his heart, Tony proposed that he and Yinsen devote their gifts to creating one of the battlesuits he had been developing, equipped with a magnetic field generator to prevent the shrapnel from reaching his heart. The armor they created became the first true Iron Man armor.

At first, Tony found his new life a torment; his armor’s chest plate had to be worn constantly and required frequent recharging.  An example of Marvel’s humanly flawed heroes, the pressures of his dual life drove Tony to drink heavily, and eventually he would become an alcoholic.  Naturally, this has caused many problems in his personal and professional lives, as well as his life as a public superhero.  He has at times lost and regained his fortune.

Keeping the armor a secret from everyone, he turned suicidal and drank heavily.  After sharing his secret identity with his fiancée Joanna, she encouraged him to use his armor to help people, but ultimately called off the engagement knowing Tony would not be the family man she desired.  Tony worked to improve the Iron Man armor, and went on to play a dual role in the formation of the Avengers, as both a public sponsor and the secret identity of founding member Iron Man.

Stark’s life has been riddled with great triumph and great tragedy.  Witnessing firsthand the impact that his company’s weaponry had on innocent lives, Stark resolved to abandon munitions production in favor of electronics and computer engineering.  However, after being shot by a former lover, Stark was told that his injuries would cripple him for the rest of his life. He found that he could still function normally within his Iron Man armor, and later, a microchip device was implanted into Stark’s spine that would enable him to walk and move normally once again.  Furthermore, his armor magnified Stark strength to superhuman levels, enabling him to lift or press roughly 85 times his normal strength.

In both the Iron Man and Avengers Hollywood franchises, Tony Stark has been portrayed by Robert Downey Jr.

 

Starship

An as-yet theoretical vessel designed for interplanetary and intergalactic travel.

 

Steampunk

Inspired by a few literary works, the term “steampunk” can now refer to several elements.  Foremost, it is a literary genre, or least a subgenre of science fiction and fantasy that includes social or technological aspects of the 19th century (the steam), usually combined with some deconstruction of, reimagining of, or rebellion against parts of it (the punk).  Steampunk stories may:

  • take place in the Victorian era, but include advanced machines based on 19th century technology;
  • include the supernatural;
  • include the supernatural and forgo the technology;
  • include the advanced machines, but take place later than the Victorian period, thereby assuming that the predomination by electricity and petroleum never happened; or
  • take place in another world altogether, but featuring Victorian-like technology.

Steampunk has also cross-pollinated its way into other genres, such as steampunk romance, steampunk erotica, and steampunk young adult fiction.  There are also steampunk games (e.g. Bioshock II), graphic novels (e.g. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), movies (e.g. Sherlock Holmes) and TV shows (e.g. Warehouse 13), as well as steampunk music and performance art.  Sparking other real-world applications, steampunk now appears as an element of personal style and a design aesthetic in both clothing and jewelry.  It can also be argued that it is a kind of rough philosophy, combining the maker ideals of creativity and self-reliance with the Victorian optimistic view of the future.

 

Sternum

  1. A bone, or in some species a series of bones, extending along the middle line of the ventral (underside) portion of the body of most vertebrates. in humans, the sternum (commonly called the “breastbone”) is a narrow flat bone, approximately six inches in length, an inch wide, and a fraction of an inch thick.  The sternum connects the ribs or the shoulder girdle or both; in humans, the sternum is connected to the clavicles and ribs known as the “true ribs.”  It develops as three distinct parts (the manubrium, gladiolus [body of the sternum], and xiphoid process) and protects several vital organs of the chest, including the heart, aorta, vena cava, and thymus gland.  Several muscles that move the arms, head, and neck originate from the sternum, which is shaped somewhat like a downward-pointing sword.  In fact, “manubrium” means “handle,” gladiolus means “sword,” and xiphoid means “sword-shaped.”
  2. The ventral (underside) surface of a body segment of an arthropod.

 

Stylus

A stylus has been made in many styles with different materials over the centuries, but in the field of computers, a stylus is a pen-shaped device used to input commands or to draw or handwrite on a specially designed computer surface, such as a touch-sensitive screen.

 

Sub-Mariner, The

See Namor.

 

Succubus

An evil spirit, believed to sit or lie on sleeping humans.  Also believed to have sexual intercourse with sleeping men, the succubus is the female counterpart to the Incubus.

 

Superman

 

Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster and first appearing in Action Comics #1 in June 1938, the character “Superman” (later featured in DC Comics) began life as Kal-El, son of Jor-El and Lara of the planet Krypton in a faraway galaxy.  A scientist, Jor-El discovered that his planet was doomed, and built a spaceship for his son to travel in to the planet Earth.  Crash-landing in Smallville, Kansas on Jonathan and Martha Kent’s farm, the infant alien was taken in by the childless couple and raised as their own son, whom they named Clark Joseph Kent.  Following an upbringing that consisted of concealing his unique abilities (outside of the “Superboy” comic book series), Clark/Kal-El decided to use his skills to aid others in need.  Earth’s much lighter gravity gave the Kryptonian native the ability to “leap tall buildings in a single bound” according to early radio serials, but eventually the character was seen as one who could actually fly.  Earth’s yellow sun gave the alien being amazing strength, speed, flight, endurance, and enhanced senses, but he was weakened by kryptonite, an ore native to his planet.  Incredibly popular throughout the decades, Superman has been depicted on several television series, many films, in cartoons, graphic novels, and countless clothing and accessory items.