British English for Americans #14

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Bum bag (noun)

U.S. equivalent: fanny pack

Comments: Whereas Americans use the word ‘fanny’ as slang for someone’s rear end, in Britain it refers to a woman’s genitals. A ‘bum’ in the U.S. often refers to a lazy, jobless person, whereas in Britain it can also be employed as a verb meaning to borrow without expectation of returning. The question Can I bum a fag, mate? from a complete stranger would elicit shock and confusion from an American, but a Brit would understand that said stranger is asking for a cigarette.

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Star Trek Writers Do it Again!

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It’s a well-known fact that many of the technological devices and scientific advances we take for granted today were depicted in one form or another on one of the Star Trek shows: mobile phones (The Original Series communicators), bluetooth (Uhura’s earpiece, The Next Generation onwards communicators), needle-less injections (hyposprays), tablet computers (PADDs), transparent aluminium, optical tweezers (much smaller version of a tractor beam), computer translators (universal translator), optical implants for the visually impaired (Geordi’s VISOR and later his optical implants), video conferencing (used by Picard on the bridge of the Enterprise-D), 3D printers are one step closer to Star Trek style replicators, new mobile apps can monitor vital signs like Star Trek‘s medical tricorders and so on…

Well, here’s the latest computer hardware innovation reminiscent of Star Trek: IBM’s nanofluidic circuit. It mimics the function of the human brain in order to switch on and off. A network of fluids containing positively and negatively charged atoms pass over the surface of the circuit and change its properties as needed. 

How does this relate to Star Trek? The U.S.S. Voyager featured in the seven-year long series Star Trek Voyager was a state-of-the-art starship and one of its innovations was the use of bio neural gel packs to speed up computer processes. To quote the Star Trek wiki site memory alpha:

The gel packs formed the basis of the bio-neural circuitry, which was essentially an organic computer system. The packs contained neural fibers surrounded in a blue gel with metallic interfaces on the top and bottom. They helped store more information and operated at faster speeds than isolinear circuitry.

 

Fascinating! Check out this article for more details about IBM’s post-silicon transistor.

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Illustration of IBM’s new biologically inspired computer circuit.