Un – Uz

Uncanny X-Men

A continuation of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s original The X-Men Marvel Comics series, which had the descriptive “Uncanny” added to the cover beginning with issue #114, but it wasn’t until issue #142 that the official name was permanently changed to Uncanny X-Men.  This epic run ended after editorial disputes in 1991.

 

Uncertainty principle

A succinct statement made by Werner Heisenberg in 1927 on the “uncertainty relation” between the position and the momentum (mass times velocity) of a subatomic particle, such as an electron.  According to Heisenberg, “The more precisely the position is determined, the less precisely the momentum is known in this instant, and vice versa.”  This relation has profound implications for such fundamental notions as causality and the determination of the future behavior of an atomic particle.

The origins of the uncertainty principle, often called the “principle of indeterminacy,” lie in a debate that began in early 1926 between Heisenberg and his closest colleagues on the one hand, who espoused the “matrix” form of quantum mechanics, and Erwin Schrödinger (of “Schrödinger’s cat” fame) and his colleagues on the other, who espoused the new “wave mechanics.”  Most physicists were slow to accept “matrix mechanics” because of its abstract nature and its unfamiliar mathematics.  They gladly welcomed Schrödinger’s alternative wave mechanics when it appeared in early 1926, since it entailed more familiar concepts and equations, and it seemed to do away with quantum jumps and discontinuities.  In May 1926, Schrödinger published a proof that matrix and wave mechanics gave equivalent results: mathematically, they were the same theory.  He also argued for the superiority of wave mechanics over matrix mechanics.  This provoked an angry reaction, especially from Heisenberg, who insisted on the existence of discontinuous quantum jumps rather than a theory based on continuous waves.

Heisenberg had just begun his job as Niels Bohr’s assistant in Copenhagen when Schrödinger came to town in October 1926 to debate the alternative theories with Bohr.  The intense debates in Copenhagen proved that neither interpretation of atomic events could be considered satisfactory.  Both sides began searching for a satisfactory physical interpretation of the quantum mechanics equations in line with their own preferences.  After Schrödinger showed the equivalence of the matrix and wave versions of quantum mechanics, and Max Born presented a statistical interpretation of the wave function, Jordan in Göttingen and Paul Dirac in Cambridge, England, created unified equations known as “transformation theory.”  These formed the basis of what is now quantum mechanics.

 

Undead

As an adjective, neither living nor dead, but something of a mobile corpse, such as a vampire or zombie.  According to legends and myths, such creatures tend to feed on the blood and/or flesh of living beings.  As a noun, any such being or beings.

 

Underdog

Premiering on the NBC Saturday morning cartoon lineup in 1964, wearing his blue cape and red suit adorned with the letter “U,” the popular superhero was famous for his rhyming dialogue, including: “There’s no need to fear, Underdog is here.”  Disguised as mild-mannered Shoeshine Boy, he protected his city and his girlfriend, Polly Purebred.

William Watts “Buck” Biggers, who passed away in February 2013 at age 85, helped write and produce the stories.  Biggers was working for Dancer Fitzgerald Sample, an advertising agency in New York, when General Mills asked the agency to create television cartoons (the titles included King Leonardo and Tennessee Tuxedo).  He also sang in the chorus that performed the Underdog theme song.  He went on to become vice president of promotion and creative services at NBC.  He also wrote for several publications and wrote several novels.

Underdog aired 1964-67, and remained in syndication until 1973.  The character of Underdog has appeared as a balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for many years, and in 2007, Disney released a theatrical live-action film version of Underdog.

 

Underfoot

In the 16th expansion to the genre-defining series EverQuest, released in December 2009, the player journeys into the undiscovered depths, exploring a world unlike anything before experienced in Norrath.  This expansion takes the player on a journey through exciting worlds, challenging dungeons, inventive creatures and thrilling monsters underground.  The persistent online role-playing game (RPG) was published by Sony Online Entertainment.

 

Underground comix

A term that describes an art form that originated in the U.S. in the 1960s.  Usually sold in what were known as “head shops,” underground comix generally reflected the rebellious mood of the 1960s counterculture movement: down with the establishment; make love, not war; drugs; rock ‘n’ roll; women’s liberation; and eventually, save the whales and most of the other social issues of the day.  Though a few books were produced before it, Robert Crumb’s Zap Comix #1, first published in February 1968, is generally considered the one publication that started the underground comix movement.  Soon after, many different titles appeared, and most selling as fast as they were produced.  Underground comix reached their pinnacle just a few short years later in the early ‘70s.

Although still being produced, 1973 saw the beginning of the end for underground comix.  The counterculture which gave rise to this new medium was changing: the revolutionary and rebellious years were over, the war in Vietnam was winding down, the market had become flooded with new (and many would say often inferior) titles, and a newspaper shortage forced production costs up.  Probably the biggest factor was the Supreme Court ruling that allowed local communities to set their own standards as to what defined “obscene” or “pornographic.”  This caused the heads shops, which had been the largest means of distribution for underground comix, to stop carrying them, since they couldn’t afford to shut down or to mount the potential court fights over carrying such items.  Underground comix continued to be produced throughout the 1970s and later, but the lofty sales figures they had reached in the early ‘70s were clearly over.  They did, however, give rise to a new art form: the so-called “newave” or “alternative” comics.

 

Understanding Comics

Scott McCloud’s 1993 “comic book about comics” that explains, via comic artwork, the inner workings of the medium, and examines many aspects of visual communication.  Understanding Comics has been translated into 16 languages, excerpted in textbooks, and its ideas have been applied in other fields such as game design, animation, web development and interface design.

Winner of the comic book industry’s Harvey and Eisner awards, the Alph’art Award (aka Prix d’Angoulême) and a New York Times Notable Book for 1994 (mass market edition), the volume covered topics which included visual iconography, word-picture dynamics, time and motion, and the psychology of line styles and color.

 

Unico

The anime character is a special unicorn with the ability to make anyone he meets happy.  The jealous gods bid the West Wind to exile young Unico to the Hill of Oblivion, where he was to stay alone forever.  Luckily, the West Wind was a kind soul that instead hid Unico away from place to place, keeping him shielded from the eyes of the gods.  Along the way, Unico must make new friends and even save the world from an evil power.  Designed to be aired as a television series, it was not picked up by any network, so the creators edited the footage into two films, The Fantastic Adventures of Unico (1981) and Unico in the Island of Magic (1983).

 

Unidentified flying object (UFO)

In popular culture, the term (also known as UFO) refers to a suspected alien spacecraft, though as the name implies, its definition encompasses any unexplained aerial phenomenon.  UFO sightings have been reported in various parts of the world throughout recorded history, raising questions about life on other planets and whether extraterrestrials have visited Earth.  They became a major subject of interest and the inspiration behind numerous films and books following the post-World War II development of rocketry.  The first widely-known UFO sighting occurred in 1947, when businessman Kenneth Arnold claimed he saw a group of nine high-speed objects near Mount Rainier in Washington while flying his small plane.  Arnold estimated the speed of the crescent-shaped objects as several thousand miles per hour and said they moved “like saucers skipping on water.”  In the newspaper report that followed, it was mistakenly stated that the objects were saucer-shaped, hence the subsequent popular term “flying saucer.”

Sightings of unidentified aerial phenomena increased, and in 1948, the U.S. Air Force began an investigation of these reports called Project Sign.  The initial opinion of those involved with the project was that the UFOs were most likely sophisticated Soviet aircraft, although some researchers suggested that they might be spacecraft from other worlds, the so-called “extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH).”  Within a year, Project Sign was succeeded by Project Grudge, which in 1952 was itself replaced by the longest-lasting of the official inquiries into UFOs, Project Blue Book, headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.  From 1952 to 1969, Project Blue Book compiled reports of more than 12,000 sightings or events, each of which was ultimately classified as (1) “identified” with a known astronomical, atmospheric, or artificial (human-caused) phenomenon or (2) “unidentified.”  The latter category, approximately 6% of the total, included cases for which there was insufficient information to make an identification with a known phenomenon.

In the summer of 1952, a provocative series of radar and visual sightings occurred near National Airport in Washington, D.C.  Although these events were eventually attributed to temperature inversions in the air over the city, not everyone was satisfied with this explanation.  Meanwhile, the number of UFO reports had climbed to a record high.  This led the Central Intelligence Agency to prompt the U.S. government to establish an expert panel of scientists to investigate the phenomena.  The panel was headed by H.P. Robertson, a physicist at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, and included other physicists, an astronomer, and a rocket engineer.  The Robertson Panel met for three days in 1953, interviewing military officers and the head of Project Blue Book. They also reviewed films and photographs of UFOs. Their conclusions were that (1) 90% of the sightings could be easily attributed to astronomical and meteorological phenomena (e.g., bright planets and stars, meteors, auroras, ion clouds) or to such earthly objects as aircraft, balloons, birds and searchlights, (2) there was no obvious security threat, and (3) there was no evidence to support the ETH.  Parts of the panel’s report were kept classified until 1979, and this long period of secrecy helped fuel suspicions of a government cover-up.

A second committee was set up in 1966 at the request of the Air Force to review the most interesting material gathered by Project Blue Book.  Two years later, this committee, which made a detailed study of 59 UFO sightings, released its results as the Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects—also known as “the Condon Report,” named for Edward U. Condon, the physicist who headed the investigation, which concluded that there was no evidence of anything other than commonplace phenomena in the reports and that UFOs did not warrant further investigation.  This, together with a decline in sighting activity, led to the dismantling of Project Blue Book in 1969.  Despite the failure of the ETH to make headway with the expert committees, a few scientists and engineers, most notably J. Allen Hynek, an astronomer at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., who had been involved with projects Sign, Grudge, and Blue Book, concluded that a small fraction of the most-reliable UFO reports gave definite indications for the presence of extraterrestrial visitors. Hynek founded the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS), which continues to investigate the phenomenon.

 

Uniform Resource Locator (URL)

The global address of documents, webpages and other resources on the internet, the first part of a URL is called a “protocol identifier,” and it indicates what protocol to use.  One common protocol identifier is HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP or http).  The second part is called a “resource name,” and it specifies the Internet Protocol (IP) address or the domain name where the resource is located.  The protocol identifier and the resource name are separated by a colon and two forward slashes (://).

 

Uninterruptible power supply (UPS)

A power supply that includes a battery to maintain power and keep a computer running for several minutes after a power outage.  This enables a user to save data that is in random access memory (RAM) and shut down the computer safely.  There are two basic types of UPS systems: standby power systems (SPSs) and online UPS systems.  Many UPSs now offer a software component that enables a user to automate backup and shutdown procedures in the event of a power failure while away from the computer.  A typical consumer UPS is a surge protector that contains a high-capacity rechargeable battery.

 

United Federation of Planets

Composed of more than 150 planetary governments spread out over 8,000 light-years, the Federation is an interstellar federal alliance in the Star Trek universe that exists semi-autonomously under a single central government based on the principles of universal liberty, rights and equality.  Federation members are united in various endeavors involving trade, exploration, science and defense.  Member planets of the Federation share their knowledge and resources in peaceful cooperation and exploration.  Located in the Alpha Quadrant of the Milky Way Galaxy, the Federation includes over 1,000 semi-autonomous colonies.  Among its major neighboring sovereignties are the Klingon Empire, the Romulan Star Empire, the Cardassian Union and the Ferengi Alliance.  Other neighboring sovereignties are the Tzenkethi, the Tholian Assembly, the Breen Confederacy and the Xindi.

Founded in San Francisco, California, United States of America, Earth in 2161, the seeds of the Federation were planted during a temporary alliance in 2154, in the search for a Romulan drone ship.  It was this search that first brought together the four species that would found the Federation: Humans, Vulcans, Andorians and Tellarites.  After the crisis, these four species remained together, founding the precursor to the Federation, called the Coalition of Planets, a year later.  Other species soon joined, including the Denobulans, the Rigelians and the Coridanites.  Over the next several years, the ties between the members of the Coalition strengthened and became more structured, until the Coalition became the Federation in 2161.  It is overseen by the Federation Council, which is comprised of representatives from member planets.

Although the Federation’s intentions were peaceful, around it were other, more belligerent powers such as the Klingon and Romulan Empires. As it expanded through the admittance of more and more worlds, it came into conflict with these powers.  A war between the Klingon Empire and the Federation briefly erupted in 2267, but was halted by the powerful peace-loving race of Organians.  Existing tensions eased considerably toward the end of the 23rd Century, with the Khitomer Conference of 2293 being a substantial turning point.  This conference saw the signing of the Khitomer Accords, which effectively ended hostile relations.  Free of major conflicts at the start of the 24th Century, the Federation began an unprecedented period of peaceful exploration in the galaxy as it had made peace with its main adversary of the previous century, the Klingon Empire.  Relations with the Romulans remained hostile, albeit at a low “cold war” level.

There was also a series of local conflicts in the late 2340s, as the Federation came into contact with other militant races such as the Cardassians, the Talarians, the Tholians and the Tzenkethi.  Then, in 2370, contact was made with the Dominion, the predominant ruling power over much of the Gamma Quadrant.  After numerous skirmishes, misfortunes suffered by the Cardassian Union allowed for their eventual incorporation into the Dominion, and the subsequent Dominion invasion of the Alpha Quadrant.  The Dominion/ Cardassian forces were also joined by the reclusive but immensely powerful race known as the Breen.  The ensuing war was the greatest crisis to be faced by the Federation, with the Federation forming an unlikely alliance with the Klingons and Romulans to defeat the Dominion.  Thousands of Federation Starfleet vessels and millions of lives were lost in what turned out be the bloodiest conflict in Federation history, as of the late 24th Century.  The most devastating and demoralizing offensive occurred in 2375, when the Breen hit the Federation at its heart, with a surprise attack on Starfleet Headquarters on Earth.  The war and its aftermath allowed the Federation to establish new relations with many of its former adversaries, the Romulans in particular.  In 2379, cooperation took place between the crew of the Federation Starfleet vessel the USS Enterprise-E and Romulan forces to defeat the Romulan Praetor Shinzon, whose actions would have destroyed both Earth and the Romulan Star Empire.  It was hoped that this would mark the beginning of an end to hostility between the Federation and the Romulan Star Empire, marking the beginnings of détente with a long-time enemy of the Federation.

 

Universal serial bus (USB) drive

An external hard disk drive or optical disc drive that plugs into the universal serial bus (USB) port.  A solid state storage module that plugs into the computer’s USB port. Using flash memory chips that hold up to one terabyte of data, a USB drive emulates a hard disk drive. USB drives are extremely popular for backup as well as data transfer from one machine to another. Their ever-increasing storage capacities have all but obsoleted writable CDs and DVDs.

Debuting at the turn of the 21st Century, USB drives are now known by many names, such as “flash drive,” “jump drive” and “stick,” among others.  USB drive vendors use the data transfer ratings of CD-ROMs, where “x” equals 150KB per second, so a “90x” drive is 13.5MB/sec (90 x 150).

 

Universal serial bus (USB) port

The most common type of computer port used in modern computers, USB is also faster than older ports, such as serial and parallel ports.  An external bus standard that supports data transfer rates of 12 megabits per second (Mbps), a single USB port can be used to connect up to 127 peripheral devices, such as mice, modems and keyboards.  USB also supports plug-and-play installation and the addition of components to a running computer without interruption of operation, known as “hot plugging.”  Starting in 1996, a few computer manufacturers started including USB support in their new machines.  It wasn’t until the release of the best-selling iMac in 1998 that USB became widespread.  Over the past few years, USB has become a widely-used cross-platform interface for both Macs and PCs, and it is expected to completely replace serial and parallel ports.

 

Universal Zetetic Society

See Flat Earth Society.

 

UNIX

A popular multi-user, multi-tasking operating system (OS) developed at Bell Labs in the early 1970s, designed to be a small, flexible system used exclusively by programmers.  The UNIX OS is made up of the kernel, file system and a shell, which is the command line interface with more than 600 commands for manipulating data and text.  UNIX was one of the first operating systems to be written in a high-level programming language, namely C.  This natural portability, combined with its low price, made it a popular choice among universities.  Bell Labs distributed UNIX in its source language form, so anyone who obtained a copy could modify and customize it for his own purposes.  By the end of the 1970s, dozens of different versions of UNIX were running at various sites.  After its breakup in 1982, AT&T began to market UNIX in earnest.  It also began the long and difficult process of defining a standard version of UNIX.  Due to its portability, flexibility, and power, UNIX has become a leading operating system for workstations, but historically has been less popular in the personal computer market.  Most websites run under Linux, a UNIX variant.  UNIX and C were freely distributed to government and academic institutions, causing it to be ported to a wider variety of machine families than any other operating system.  As a result, UNIX became synonymous with “open systems” and thrives today on virtually every hardware platform.

 

Unreal

A third-person shooter survival game in which a player must find food, a weapon and ammunition, which are spread throughout the landscape.  Enemies and interactive objects to help your defense may be anywhere in this game, which will support co-op play.

 

Unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cable

The most common kind of copper telephone wiring, twisted pair is ordinary copper wire that connects home and many business computers to the telephone company.  Two insulated copper wires are twisted around each other to reduce crosstalk and electromagnetic induction between pairs of wires.  Since some telephone or desktop locations require multiple connections, twisted pair is sometimes installed in two or more pairs, all within a single cable.  As opposed to UTP, for some business locations, twisted pair is enclosed in a shield that functions as a ground.  This is known as shielded twisted pair (STP).

 

Unstable molecules

A molecular fabric created by Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic of Marvel Comics’ The Fantastic Four) that is able to adapt to a wide range of extreme matter and energy transformations without losing its original integrity.  Unstable molecules compose the costumes of the Fantastic Four and some of their hero allies in the Marvel Universe, and can stand up to and recover from extreme circumstances, such as Richards’ elastic body and Johnny Storm’s flammability.  Third-generation unstable molecules were introduced in Fantastic Four #1.

 

Ununbium

Discovered by S. Hofmann, V. Ninov and F.P. Hessbuger in 1996, ununbium (symbol Uub, atomic number 112 on the Periodic Table of Elements) was derived from a fusion of zinc and lead.  Classified as a transition metal, little is known about ununbium at present, including the boiling and melting points or any practical uses.  The source of its name is its atomic number 112, or “un” “un” “bi.” The isotope known as Uub-277 has a half-life of 280.0 milliseconds.

 

Ununhexium

The temporary name of an unconfirmed chemical element, with the temporary symbol Uuh and atomic number 116 on the Periodic Table of Elements.  Discovered by researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 1999, little is known about ununhexium, including its atomic mass, density, melting point, boiling point or any existing isotopes.  Ununhexium is entirely synthesized in the laboratory, and does not occur naturally.  It is so unstable, any amount formed decomposes to other elements so quickly that there’s no way to study its effects on human health.  In 2000, Lawrence Berkeley published a retraction after other researchers were unable to duplicate the results.  In June 2002, the director of the lab announced that the original claim of the discovery had been based on data fabricated by the principal author Victor Ninov.  The name Ununhexium is used as a placeholder, such as in scientific articles about the search for Element 116; it is a Latinate way of saying “one-one-six-ium.”  Due to its position in the periodic table, it is expected to have properties similar to those of polonium and tellurium.  Due to its extremely short half-life, there’s no reason for considering the effects of ununhexium in the environment.

 

Urania

Greek for “heavenly,” Urania is the muse of astronomy, astrology and mathematics in Greek mythology.  In some myths, she was the mother of Linus the musician (though in other versions, the muse Calliope was his mother); the father was either Hermes or Amphimarus, son of Poseidon.  Urania was also occasionally used as another name for Aphrodite.  It is said that Urania was able to foretell the future by the position of the stars.  Urania was depicted crowned with stars, holding a globe in her left and a compass in her right hand.

 

Uranium

Discovered in 1789 by Martin Klaproth, the element was named after the planet Uranus, which was in turn named for the Greek god of the sky.  It has an atomic symbol U, 92 protons and electrons (giving it the atomic number 92 on the Periodic Table of Elements), and is classified as a Rare Earth element.  Uranium is used as fuel for nuclear reactors, and can be obtained from several rocks, large amounts of which can be found in pitchblende and carnotite.  The element has a melting point of 2,069.6°F and a boiling point of 6,904.4°F.  Uranium’s isotopes are U-230, U-231, U-232, U-233, U-234, U-235, U-236, U-237, U-238, U-239, U-240, the half-lives of which are 20.8 days, 4.2 days, 70 years, 159,000 years, 247,000 years, 7 years, 2.34 years, 6.75 days, 4.47 years, 23.5 minutes and 14.1 hours, respectively.

 

Uranus

  1. In Greek mythology, Uranus (also known as Ouranos, or Caelus in Roman mythology) was the god of the sky. According to Hesiod’s Theogony, he was born by Gaea   Other sources say that his parents were Gaea and Chaos, or Gaea and Aether.  Depending on the source, Uranus was also said to be the first husband of Gaea, goddess of the Earth.  With Gaea, he fathered the original twelve Titans and the three Cyclopes, as well as the three Hecatoncheires (“hundred-handed ones”).  Hating his children, Uranus banished them to Tartarus.  Infuriated, Gaea created a diamond sickle, which she gave to Cronus (counterpart to the Roman god Saturn), one of the Titans.  Cronus found his father and castrated him in his sleep, and thus ended the reign of Uranus.  Cronus became the new ruler of the universe, until Cronus was in turn defeated by his own son Zeus and sent, along with the other Titans, into Tartarus.

2. The first planet found with the aid of a telescope, the seventh planet in our solar system was discovered in 1781 by astronomer William Herschel, although he originally thought he was looking at a comet or star. Herschel tried unsuccessfully to name his discovery Georgian Sidus after King George III; but instead the planet was named for Uranus, the Greek god of the sky.  Uranus is one of the two ice giants (with Neptune) of the outer solar system.  The atmosphere is mostly hydrogen and helium, plus methane and trace amounts of water and ammonia.  The methane gas in the atmosphere Uranus gets its blue-green color.  For nearly a quarter of the Uranian year (equal to 84 Earth years), the sun shines directly over each pole, plunging the other half of the planet into a long, dark winter.

Like Venus, Uranus rotates east to west (as opposed to the Earth’s west-to-east orbit).  Uranus’ rotation axis is tilted almost parallel to its orbital plane, so Uranus appears to be rotating on its side.  This situation may be the result of a collision with a planet-sized body early in the planet’s history, which apparently radically changed Uranus’ rotation.  Because of Uranus’ unusual orientation, the planet experiences extreme variations in sunlight during each 20-year-long season.  By 2028, Uranus’ north pole will point directly at the sun, a reversal of the situation when Voyager 2 flew by in 1986.  Uranus reached equinox, when it was fully illuminated as the sun passed over the planet’s equator, in December 2007.

Uranus has two sets of rings. The inner system of nine rings, discovered in 1977, consists mostly of narrow, dark rings.  Voyager 2 found two additional inner rings.  An outer system of two more distant rings was discovered in Hubble Space Telescope images in 2003.  In 2006, Hubble and Keck observations showed that the outer rings are brightly colored.  Uranus has 27 known moons, named for characters from the works of William Shakespeare or Alexander Pope.  Miranda is the strangest-looking Uranian moon: its complex surface may indicate partial melting of the interior, with icy material drifting to the surface.

 

Urban legend

A story or anecdote, typically lurid or scary in nature, based on hearsay, though commonly related as fact.  Also called an “urban myth.”

 

Urban myth

See Urban legend.

 

Urko

Based on the character of General Ursus in the 1970 film Beneath the Planet of the Apes, the human-hating general of the gorilla army was portrayed by Mark Lenard in the 1974 live-action TV series Planet of the Apes, and voiced by Henry Corden in the 1975 Saturday morning animated TV series.  Both series were based on the “Apes” film series, which was based on the novel (originally titled Le Planète de Singes) by Pierre Boulle.

 

Uroc the Unstoppable

As portrayed in Marvel Comics’ Thor comic books, Uroc was once a rock troll and weaponsmith in the service of Grundor the Greater, who was ordered to produce a powerful weapon or suffer dire consequences.  Uroc discovered a vast amount of uru metal and forged a massive, monstrous figure, into which he transferred his consciousness.  Uroc is a giant being composed of pure uru metal which makes him practically indestructible and impervious to most physical attacks.  Uroc possesses superhuman strength, durability and resistance to injury.  He can absorb various types of energy attacks, as well as repel them.  Uroc can also magnetize his entire body to draw various metals to his massive form.  When the Rock Trolls captured Thor and took him to King Grundor, Thor escaped from his bounds and attacked the trolls, until Grundor was left alone after the trolls fled from battle.  Grundor told Thor that they were forced to the surface world by Uroc.  Uroc confronted Thor and Grundor when they reached his domain.  Thor struck Uroc with a lightning bolt, but the beast was able to absorb the attack and return the blast at the thunder god.  Uroc also magnetized himself and Thor’s hammer would stick to the palm of his hand.  Uroc followed Grundor and Thor as they started to cross a stone bridge above the Chasm of Eternal Sorrow.  Thor stopped in his tracks and baited Uroc to strike, then dodged the powerful blow.  Uroc caused the bridge to collapse, then fell into the bottomless chasm.  Uroc was created by Tom DeFalco and Mike Mignola in 1989, and first appeared in Thor # 408.

 

Ursus

Portrayed by James Gregory in the 1970 motion picture sequel Beneath the Planet of the Apes (the second film in the original series of five), Ursus was the most vocal anti-human ape and the leader of the gorilla army.  The character inspired General Urko in two TV series of the 1970s.

 

Uru

Substance in the Marvel Comics universe (originating in the Thor comic line) that is both stone and metal, which only the heat from a star or the very forges of Asgard can shape and mold.  As a unique Asgardian element, Uru is extremely resilient and has an extraordinary ability to hold magic.  As such it is primarily used to forge weapons for the Gods of Asgard.  The most famous of these is Thor’s hammer Mjolnir.  It was Tony Stark (aka Marvel’s Iron Man), who first discovered this metal’s natural affinity for magic.  It has shown to be capable of storing vast amounts of energy, particularly magical energies.  While not easily enchanted, Uru metal absorbs magic like a sponge, redirecting it and enhancing the natural attributes of its wielder.  Applying a permanent enchantment to Uru is very dangerous and should only be attempted by those of immense power, well versed in both the enchanting and crafting of the metal.  Despite its incredible ability to store and harness vast quantities of energy (especially those of a mystical nature), the casting of a permanent enchantment can cause the Uru to become dangerously volatile and unstable, often causing more harm than good.  A symbiotic relationship between Uru and its wielder exists that allows for many astounding feats.  The enchanting process also dramatically increases its durability.  Uru metal is used as the primary component in several famous weapons, including Thor’s hammer Mjolnir; Odin’s spear Gungnir; Thor’s left arm; Heimdall’s sword; Tony Stark’s “Thorbuster” Armor and Mighty Destroyer Armor; Mokk’s hammer Faithbreaker; Nekkron’s hammer, Oceanbreaker; Angrir’s hammer, Soulbreaker; Skadi’s hammer; Kurroth’s hammer, Stonebreaker; Skirn’s hammer, Manbreaker; Greithoth’s hammer, Willbreaker; Nul’s hammer, Worldbreaker; The Serpent’s hammer.

 

Usagi Yojimbo

Written for over 30 years by award winner Stan Sakai, and published in over 14 countries, the manga series is set in a unique world.  Based in 17th Century Japan, it features the many exciting adventures of skilled swordsrabbit Miyamoto Usagi, a former yojimbo, or bodyguard, for a Japanese warlord.  Usagi is now a ronin, a wandering swordsrabbit.  Honing his skills, saving villages, and oftentimes stumbling into delicate affairs of national/political significance!  The character is loosely based on the legendary “Sword Saint” Miyamoto Musashi, who is famous for winning over 60 duels, the first of which was when he was only 13 years old.  Usagi also appeared in a 1989 animated episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

 

Usagi, Miyamoto

See Usagi Yojimbo.

 

USB 2.0 standard

A Universal serial bus (USB) standard often referred to as Hi-Speed USB, released in April 2000. Almost all devices with USB capabilities (such as universal serial bus (USB) drives and universal serial bus (USB) ports) and nearly all USB cables, support at least USB 2.0.  Devices that adhere to the USB 2.0 standard have the ability to transmit data at a maximum speed of 480 Mbps, which is faster than the older USB 1.1 standard, but slower than the newer USB 3.0 standard.

 

Usenet

A worldwide “bulletin board” system that can be accessed through the internet or many other online services.  The Usenet contains more than 14,000 forums, called “newsgroups,” each of which focuses on a unique common interest.  Used daily by millions of people around the world, Usenet displays a collection of user-submitted notes or messages.  There are thousands of newsgroups, and users may also create new ones.  Most newsgroups are hosted on internet-connected servers, but they can also be hosted from servers that are not part of the Internet.  Usenet’s original protocol was UNIX-to-UNIX Copy (UUCP), but today the Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) is used.  On the internet, Google and other sites provide a subject-oriented directory, as well as a search approach, to newsgroups.  In addition, there are other newsgroup readers such as Knews that run as separate programs.  Most browsers, such as those from Netscape and Microsoft, provide Usenet newsgroup support and access.

 

User Datagram Protocol (UDP)

An open systems interconnection (OSI) transport layer protocol formulated by David P. Reed for client-server network applications.  User Datagram Protocol (UDP) is an alternative communications protocol to Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) networks.  TCP has emerged as the dominant protocol used for the bulk of internet connectivity owing to services for breaking large data sets into individual packets, checking for and resending lost packets and reassembling packets into the correct sequence. But these additional services come at a cost in terms of additional data overhead, and delays called latency.  In contrast, UDP just sends the packets, which means that it has much lower bandwidth overhead and latency.  However, as a result, packets can be lost or received out of order, owing to the different paths individual packets traverse between sender and receiver.

Unlike TCP/IP, User Datagram Protocol/internet protocol (UDP/IP) provides very few error recovery services, offering instead a direct way to send and receive datagrams over an IP network.  Widely used in video conferencing and real-time computer games, the protocol permits individual packets to be dropped and UDP packets to be received in a different order than the order in which they were sent, allowing for better performance.  UDP uses a simple transmission model, but does not employ handshaking dialogs for reliability, ordering and data integrity. The protocol is used primarily for broadcasting messages over a network, and is part of the IP suite used by programs running on different computers on a network.  UDP is used to send short messages called datagrams but overall, it is an unreliable, connectionless protocol.

 

User interface (UI)

The way a user interacts with a computer, tablet, smartphone or other electronic device, the user interface is comprised of the components a user utilizes in order to use the computer, such as the screen menus and icons, keyboard shortcuts, mouse, command language and online help, as well as physical buttons, dials and levers.  A command-driven interface is one in which you enter commands.  A menu-driven interface is one in which you select command choices from various menus displayed on the screen.

 

Uther, King

See Pendragon, King Uther.

 

Utility belt

In general, a belt worn around the waist with compartments for tools, as a police officer, electrician or soldier would wear.  One specific utility belt that is well-known in pop culture is the one worn by Batman, which includes such tools as Batarangs, cylinders containing various gases, grappling hook, night vision goggles, sonic grenades, first aid kit and handcuffs, among others.

 

Utility program

Software that is used to perform standard computer operations for users and developers, basic utility programs typically include file/folder management (copy, move, etc.), file search and compare, disk format, as well as diagnostic routines to check the performance and health of the hardware.  Operating systems contain a number of utilities for managing disk drives, printers, and other devices.  Custom utilities are those that can perform a myriad of tasks.  Utilities are sometimes installed as memory-resident programs.  On Disk Operating Systems (DOS), such utilities are called TSRs (for terminate and stay resident).

 

Utopia

  1. (Usually lowercase) An ideal place or state or any visionary system of political or social perfection.  The opposite of dystopia.
  2.  The title of, and an imaginary island described in, Sir Thomas More’s Utopia (1516).