Slang and Jargon for SF Games
by Frederick Brackin (fbrackin@megabits.net)
I was thinking about color bits for some future SF game and a whole riff developed off of it and I figured I might as well share it.
Starting from a half-joking comment that "They won't be using the metric system in the future. They'll be using something much more precise." I developed the idea that my futurians (who are sort of Heinlein/Doc Smith types) would start by clearing up their definitions and I came up with multiple definitions of zero and future slang developed off of that.
- Zero-0: This is a theoretical zero. A quantity calculated from pure mathematics and never used in actual measurements of the physical world (like "Absolute Zero" as a temperature). Zero-0 math is purely abstract or theoretical. To call something "zero-0" is to imply that it is only theoretical or exists only in a perfect world. A synonym for "ivory tower".
- Zero-1: This is a zero that describes a quantity that if it existed would be smaller than could be possibly measured due to fundamental quantum limits. This is the sort of math that physicists would make their predictions in. To call something "the difference between zero-0 and zero-1" is to imply that it is a technical nitpick or hair-splitting.
- Zero-2: This is a quantity that is below the accuracy of your measuring instruments. You'd have to define your zero-2 in any technical works to be really precise. Zero-2 level math is the province of engineers, but it would come to mean "the best you can do under the circumstances" or "the real world conditions are". Resulting phrases are things like "Give me your zero-2." (give me your best guess) and "Our zero-2s ain't matching up with our zero-0s" (things are not going according to plan) and "How good is your zero-2?", "It's practically Zero-1!".
- Zero-3: This is something that is zero by definition 'one orange minus one orange is zero-3 oranges.". Saying that something is zero-3 means that it's obvious or "well, duh.". Calling something zero-3 math is not a complement. Zero-3 math is what the politicians use to balance the budget.
Anyway, when I thought of this I was going for that Doc Smith sort of feel and it seemed so much more clever before I had to type it out in dry prose.
Another Zero
by Kelly St. Clair (kellys@efn.org )
- Zero-4: A.k.a. "not at all zero". The sort of irony* found in statements like, "And of course, the chance that the client will change the specs halfway through the project is zero-4" -- where the value of zero actually approaches infinity. I'm convinced that even in a space operatic future, engineers and other technical sorts will retain a fondness for "ha ha only serious" humor. ;)