In engineering, fiction, and thought experiments, unobtainium [uhn-uhb-tey-nee-uhm] is any fictional, extremely rare, costly, or impossible material, or (less commonly) device needed to fulfill a given design for a given application. The properties of any particular unobtainium depend on the intended use. For example, a pulley made of unobtainium might be massless and frictionless; however, if used in a nuclear rocket, unobtainium would be light, strong at high temperatures, and resistant to radiation damage. The concept of unobtainium is often applied flippantly or humorously.
Since the late 1950s, aerospace engineers have used the term when referring to unusual or costly materials, or when theoretically considering a material perfect for their needs in all respects, except that it does not exist. By the 1990s, the term was in wide use, even in formal engineering papers such as ‘Towards unobtainium [new composite materials for space applications].’ The word may well have been coined in the aerospace industry to refer to materials capable of withstanding the extreme temperatures expected in reentry. Aerospace engineers are frequently tempted to design aircraft which require parts with strength or resilience beyond that of currently available materials.read more »
So-called ‘reverse product placement‘ is the creation of products in real life to match those seen in a fictional setting. In 2007, 7-Eleven rebranded 11 of its American stores and one Canadian store as ‘Kwik-E-Marts,’ selling some real-life versions of products seen in episodes of the ‘The Simpsons,’ such as Buzz Cola and Krusty-O’s cereal. In 1997, Acme Communications was created as a chain of real television stations; the firm is named for the fictional Acme Corporation of Warner Brothers fame.
The fictional Willy Wonka from ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’ (1971) was licensed to name a real candy company soon after the film’s release; the brand is now controlled by Nestlé. In the 1984 cult film ‘Repo Man,’ a reverse form of product placement is used, with an exaggerated form of 1980s era generic packaging used on products prominently shown on-screen (these include ‘Beer,’ ‘Drink,’ ‘Dry Gin,’ and ‘Food – Meat Flavored’).
In law, unring the bell is an analogy used to suggest the difficulty of forgetting information once it is known. When discussing jury trials, the phrase is sometimes used to describe the judge’s instructions to the jury to ignore inadmissible evidence or statements they have heard. It may also be used if inadmissible evidence has been brought before a jury and the judge subsequently declares a mistrial.
Commenting on Court TV about the pre-trial release of nearly 200 pages of documents from a hearing on the sexual activities of the accuser in the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case, jury consultant Idgi D’Andrea said, ‘It’s really hard to unring the bell, once that bell has been rung, and ask people to forget what they’ve heard.’ In a more recent case, judge Reggie Walton said that he could not ‘unring the bell’ when he declared a mistrial in the Roger Clemens perjury trial.read more »
Poe’s law is an Internet adage reflecting the idea that without a clear indication of the author’s intent, it is difficult or impossible to tell the difference between an expression of sincere extremism and a parody of extremism. A corollary of Poe’s law is the reverse phenomenon: sincere fundamentalist beliefs can be mistaken for a parody of those beliefs. The statement was formulated in 2005 by Nathan Poe on the website christianforums.com in a debate about creationism. The original sentence read: ‘Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is utterly impossible to parody a Creationist in such a way that someone won’t mistake [it] for the genuine article.’
The sentiments expressed by Poe date back much earlier – at least to 1983, when Jerry Schwarz in a post on Usenet wrote: ‘Avoid sarcasm and facetious remarks. Without the voice inflection and body language of personal communication these are easily misinterpreted. A sideways smile, :-), has become widely accepted on the net as an indication that ‘I’m only kidding.’ If you submit a satiric item without this symbol, no matter how obvious the satire is to you, do not be surprised if people take it seriously.’ Another precedent posted on Usenet dates to 2001. Following the well-known schema of Arthur C. Clarke’s third law (any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic), Alan Morgan wrote: ‘Any sufficiently advanced parody is indistinguishable from a genuine kook.’
Tall poppy syndrome (TPS) is a pejorative term primarily used in the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and other Anglosphere nations to describe a social phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down, or criticized because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers.
Australia’s usage of the term has evolved and is not uniformly negative. In Australia, a long history of ‘underdog’ culture and profound respect for humility in contrast to that of Australia’s English feudal heritage results in a different understanding of the concept.read more »
Gold sinks are economic processes by which a video game’s ingame currency (‘gold’), or any item that can be valued against it, is removed. Excess currency leads to inflation of player driven prices. Game designers must balance between scarcity of currency and ease of acquiring currency. This process is comparable to financial repression (measures that governments employ to channel funds to themselves, that, in a deregulated market, would go elsewhere). Most commonly the genres are role-playing game or massively multiplayer online game.
The term is comparable to timesink (an activity that consumes significant time), but usually used in reference to game design and balance, commonly to reduce inflation when commodities and wealth are continually fed to players through sources such as quests, looting monsters, or minigames. Gold sinks are commonly called drains or gold drains. They can also be associated with item drains. The intent of a sink is to remove added value from the overall economy. For example, in ‘Ultima Online,’ items that were placed on the ground would be gathered by the server. This form is referred to as decay or garbage collection.read more »
TV Tropes is a wiki that collects and expands on various conventions and devices (tropes) found within creative works. Since its establishment in 2004, the site has gone from covering only television and film tropes to also covering those in a number of other media such as literature, comics, video-games, and even advertisements and toys. It is known for approaching topics with a casual and humorous tone.
The site initially focused on the television show ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,’ and has since increased its scope to include thousands of other series, films, novels, plays, video games, anime, manga, comic strips and books, fan fiction, and other subjects, including Internet works such as Wikipedia, which is referred to in-wiki as ‘The Other Wiki.’ Some believe that use of ‘TV Tropes’ teaches the user to analyze and dissect works of media. An unanticipated side effect causes some readers to become jaded and cynical, ‘[replacing] surprise almost entirely with recognition.’ This is referred to on the site as ‘TV Tropes Will Ruin Your Life,’ referring to the inability to read books, watch films, etc. without identifying each trope as it occurs.
Tsundere [tsoon-dey-ray] is a Japanese character development process that describes a person who is cold and even hostile before gradually showing their warm side. The word is derived from the terms ‘Tsun Tsun,’ meaning to turn away in disgust, and ‘Dere Dere’ meaning to become ‘lovey dovey.’
Originally found in Japanese bishōjo games (or ‘gal games,’ a type of Japanese video game centered on interactions with attractive anime-style girls; a subset of dating simulators), the word is now part of the otaku moe phenomenon (a rarefied pseudo-love for fictional characters).read more »
Retroactive continuity (often shortened to retcon) refers to the alteration of previously established facts in a literary work. Retcons may be carried out for a variety of reasons, such as to accommodate sequels or further derivative works in the same series, to reintroduce popular characters, to resolve chronological issues, to reboot a familiar series for modern audiences, or to simplify an excessively complex continuity structure.
Retcons are common in pulp fiction, especially comic books published by long-established houses such as DC, Marvel and leading manga publishers. The long history of popular titles and the plurality of writers who contribute stories can often create situations that demand clarification or revision of exposition. Retcons appear as well in soap operas, serial drama, movie sequels, professional wrestling, video games, radio series, and other kinds of serial fiction.