Planets

As most everybody knows, there are eight planets. This is according to the International Astronomical Union, which famously demoted beloved Pluto back in 2006 to a “dwarf planet”. But the definition of planet changes so often, that there is really no one way to define a planet.

To the ancient Greeks and Romans, a planet meant “any object that moved in the sky that wasn’t a bird”. This meant there were seven, the seven planets famously depicted in the Ptolmatic Model (by Ptolmey): Luna (moon), Mercury, Venus, Sol (sun), Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. These all orbited the Earth, because they all appeared to move in the sky, and were thus planets. This model made the most sense and stuck around until a fellow named Copernicus noticed that Ptolmey’s model had some fancy math error that could be rectified by a heliocentric model of the universe. This is why the Sun and Moon move differently in the sky from all the other planets, since they orbit the Sun, and not the Earth. From this model there were only 5 planets, and the definition expanded to mean “a moving object in the sky that orbits the Sun”.

Then in the 19th century, as telescopes improved, a whole bunch of itty bitty planets were discovered. At the time, Uranus was newly discovered by William Herschel (who wanted to call it George’s Star, after the king). So when Giuseppi Piazzi found a dinky little planet between Mars and Jupiter in 1801, the scientific community were eager to add it to the official list, to be the 9th planet. They called it Ceres, in the tradition of naming planets after Roman gods. Then the next year another was found, but it was a lot smaller. And then another. And another. By this point astronomers were scratching their heads at these little oblong (except for Ceres) lumps that were all clustered together, and decided to call them “asteroids” (meaning star-like). Soon after, in 1846, a new planet (big this time) was discovered beyond Uranus, and they named it Neptune.

For years afterwards, astronomers studied the orbit of Neptune and realized that the orbit was slightly affected. They assumed that this was because of the influence of a large body’s gravity on it. They called this theoretical planet Planet X. The idea was Percival Lowell’s, and he poured a lot of money into finding it. And then, who should find the planet, but a new guy at the observatory, who was comparing photographs. The world was soon in delight to have found a new planet, despite it not being big enough to be Lowell’s Planet X. They called it Pluto.

From 1930 until 2006, Pluto has enjoyed status as a planet. We all grew up learning mnemotic devices in school to remember the nine planets. However, astronomers always were unsure about Pluto, especially once other objects in the area were found. They were of course much smaller than Pluto, in the same way that Ceres contains an entire third of the mass of the Asteroid Belt. So the Kuiper Belt was discovered, a mass of comets, and icy rocks beyond Neptune. The objects within are normally called Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs), and yes, Pluto is included. So why isn’t Pluto a planet anymore? Well, astronomers figured that despite being tiny (for a planet), and not having a “clear neighborhood” (the official term), it could still be a planet unless something larger than Pluto was found, demoting its special status. While many objects were found that rivaled Pluto in size, and even being given names, none came close to being bigger.

I’ll give you one guess as to what was found in 2005.

Ladies and gentlemen, Eris is the reason Pluto was demoted. It’s not actually that much larger than Pluto, but is twice as far. It even has a moon, appropriately named Dysomnia (moons are usually given names from Greek mythology). As we all know from the “PLUTO IS NOT A PLANET ANYMORE” headlines of 2006, the IAU decided that neither Pluto nor Eris was to be a planet, and a new classification was to be made. Planets had to be 1) in orbit around the Sun, 2) have enough gravity to become round (or close enough), 3) has cleared the neighborhood (meaning that it can’t be in an orbit among a ton of space junk. For those objects that fulfilled 1 and 2, but not 3, the classification of “dwarf planet” was given.

The current definition of Dwarf planet means that there are five official dwarf planets (and several more objects that fit the definition but aren’t on the list) The official ones are Pluto, Eris, Ceres (the only round member of the Asteroid Belt), Haumea, and Makemake. There are four others which are most likely dwarf planets, and they are Orcus, Quaoar, Sedna, and 2007 OR10. In case you were wondering what that last one was, it doesn’t actually have a name yet. The designation is the astronomical designation, since no name has yet been given to 2007 OR10. Interestingly enough, all nine of these bodies have their own Wikipedia pages.

Here is where I make my point: These objects are certainly deserving to be called “planets”. They are big, they are round, and some of them are really really cool. Every planet has its own interesting facts: Venus’s runaway greenhouse effect, Earth’s uniqueness, Uranus’s being sideways and having all its moons named after Shakesperean characters. Pluto and Co. have their own traits of Awesomeness.

First there’s Ceres. It’s a big asteroid that’s big enough to have obtained hydrostatic equilibrium (which is science talk for “it’s round”), and it might even have a water ocean! All the other asteroids look like potatoes (use Mars’s two “moons” as an example). Next there’s Pluto. Oh esteemed Pluto, how it has sat in the hearts of humans for eighty years. What can we say about Pluto? It has five moons, one of which is so big, Charon, that it’s half the mass of Pluto itself, and so the two are a binary system, rotating around each other. It’s orbit is an ellipse, rather than a circle, so for a period of 20 years (recently too, from 1979-1999), it is actually inside Neptune’s orbit! A quarter of its surface is in permanent sun, and another quarter in permanent darkness, due to its rotational axis. And despite being really cold, it even has an atmosphere. Needless to say, Pluto is awesome.

Eris is really far out (although not the furthest on this list), beyond the Kuiper Belt. It orbits at a huge angle compared to the rest of the Solar System (all the planets are coplanar for some reason). Makemake is one of the few dwarf planets with no moons, and is really bright (considering its great distance from the Sun). Haumea looks like an egg, has two moons, and water ice about 80% of the surface (mixed with cyanide). Orcus and Quaoar just have really cool names (not much is known about them, except for Quaoar being bright red). And then there’s Sedna. Sedna tops them all in coolness. Sedna’s orbit is so long, that it takes approximately 11,400 years to complete one. Just look at this diagram for comparison. At the moment, it is at its nearest point (perihelion) to the Sun, which is how it was able to be discovered. It’s so far out, it’s in the darn Oort Cloud at aphelion! The Oort Cloud marks the outer edge of the Solar System. It’s so far, the only reason it’s known to exist is by mathematics, and the evidence of the Voyager probes.

As we can see, all of these minor Solar System bodies are highly underappreciated by the IAU. They ought to be planets. How cool would it be to have 17 planets in the Solar System?

Notice

Apologies to everybody who follows this blog for going so long between posts. It took a long time for inspiration to hit, and I am pleased to say that you will soon be graced with another post of mine, coming most likely today! Thank you.

On the Necessity of Religion in the Modern World

In the beginning, there was nothing. And then without cause, the universe ballooned out of nonexistence, containing proto-particles ruled by the four main forces of the Universe (gravity, electromagnetism, Strong, and Weak atomic forces, in case you were wondering). These particles cooled as the universe expanded and there was more space for the heat to spread out. Cooling down resulted in the particles joining together using the forces to make atoms, which made molecules, which made nebulae. In turn, the plasmatic particles of the nebulae cooled sufficiently to form stars. The remainder formed planets, and got stuck in gravity wells of the stars, and because of their own momentum interacting with the gravity, formed orbits. These planets cooled, and on one tiny insignificant planet, conditions were just right for the volcanic activity to spew hydrogen and oxygen, making vast seas. In these vast seas life suddenly came from non-living, without any explanation (most frequently cited as evolving on the backs of crystals, or the effects of random electrical strikes on primordial soup). Anyway, the life gradually got more complex and eventually spawned eukaryotic cells, which evolved into plankton, then fish, then reptiles then– Wait, what?

*sound effect*

It seems to me, as it should to any thinking person, that this explanation for our existence as we know it is really far-fetched. First off, you can’t have something come from nothing. This knowledge goes all the way back to Aristotle, for Pete’s sake, whose argument for a Prime Mover goes something like this:

  1. Everything in existence is the result of something else causing it’s existence or current state
  2. This implies an infinite regression of a causal chain.
  3. Something caused the beginning of the universe, which triggered everything else, like a domino chain.
  4. You can’t have infinite causes, since the universe has not been in existence forever. The universe cannot have been in existence forever, since we have scientifically proven it’s age.
  5. Therefore, something needs to have caused the Universe to Be.
  6. This Prime cause would need to be outside of everything, including  space, time, and the Universe.
  7. Therefore, the Universe could only have been brought into existence from a Prime Mover.

Now there’s a reason Aristotle is still studied a good 2300 years after he died. The guy was a genius, the kind who came up with stuff that nobody else could have, but people would always see the truth of when they learned of it. His philosophy (well, most of it) still is relevant to us today. Is it any wonder that Aristotle hit the proverbial nail on the head here too? Certainly it makes a lot more sense than the “it happened by chance” theory. For the universe is far too ordered. I mean, what are the odds that out of all the possible ways the universe could have developed, and of all the possible combinations of atoms, that out of billions of stars and billions of planets, that life form on one insignificant blue ball. And that on that blue ball, that complex life developed, and even within that, what are the odds of this life gaining the ability to reason for itself? The odds are impossible that it could happen by chance! And yet here we are.

So if we use logic, the universe, in it’s vastly ordered state, could have only have been created by a Prime Mover that exists outside of everything. It all fits, since all the goodness and beauty of creation, and the intricate structuring, and how everything has a specific purpose couldn’t have arisen by pure accident. It all make sense that it was by design. Furthermore, it makes us humans special, that we were designed as we are for a purpose.

Funnily enough, this idea of a Creator fits with a good 100% of world religions. These religions, from simple paganism all the way up to the complexities of the Abrahamic faiths, all share this. Were they on to something? This idea is particularily embarrassing for modern scientists, because it means that the idea of reality they have promoted since the Enlightenment has been disproved in favor of the “outdated, primitive” ideas of religion! Therefore, reason falls by the wayside in favor of keeping the ideas alive, and basing all belief on the assumption that they are infallable truths about the nature of reality. It all stems from the Enlightenment idea that “we can do it without God”. For the existence of God is the implictation of the Prime Mover argument, which is that which the Atheists who dominate  the scientific community deny. They don’t believe that science and religion can coexist. As a Catholic, I believe that they can. After all, what is science but the study of physical reality? And what is religion, but filling in the gaps of reason in things that we cannot understand, with beliefs held by faith? So in fact religion and science not only coexist, they actually fulfill one another!

I further believe that someday soon, the scientific community will come to the conclusion that religion has some pretty darn good explanations for those things they cannot understand. Heck, even the Genesis account of creation isn’t that far off from what we know, just stated in a way that people 3000 years ago could understand. They will find that there are some things reason alone cannot solve, and they need to turn to a tried-and-true source of knowledge to answer the Big Questions. Hopefully, this will result in a successful integration of science and religion on this subject. With advanced scientific knowledge, we can understand old beliefs as simplified versions of what we can understand today, and treat religious cosmological beliefs as early science! It’s broading our view of the past, and seeing it not as primitive outdated beliefs, but as a simpler way of understanding the same Truths. Look no further, scientists, for the answer has been right in front of your face for centuries!

The Nose Knows

A recent discovery of mine is that there is actually a scientific answer for why men are slobs, and women always clean up after them. This may seem like an unfair stereotype (after all, I personally know a few tidy men), but it is scientifically true. The answer is all to do with the sense of smell. Women have significantly stronger senses of smell than men, due to the omnipresent hormone oestrogen. This fluctuates during a woman’s cycle, meaning that women can smell the best when they are ovulating, and worst when they are menstruating. Results such as this suggest that for women, the sense of smell is important in attracting a mate. Some scientists suggest that it may even help a woman to find the most genetically compatible mate, which is important, since the best offspring have diverse genetics (this may also be why nobody is attracted to their siblings or cousins).

As if to prove this point, apparently testosterone makes men emit a chemical called androstenol through their sweat. Supposedly, men have two types of hormones secreted in sweat, the stinky type (androstenone) and androstenol, which doesn’t stink at all, and attracts women, especially ovulating women, who can smell it strongly. This reciprocation probably helped thousands of generations of humans to breed. Upon learning all of this biological stuff, I decided to observe myself, several months ago, to watch out for signs of this. Sure enough, at a certain time of the month, when me and a male friend of mine were hanging out together, I caught myself reveling in an inexplicably pleasurable scent, presumably androstenol. If it was nature’s way of chemical attraction, I must say it did its job rather effectively.

Of course the big downside to women having better senses of smell is that it means that men have crappy senses of smell. Therefore they cannot tell when they stink, at least not as easily as women can. This leads up to the stereotype of men being slobs. They simply cannot tell that they are filthy and smell awful, and due to their single-mindedness when it comes to certain tasks, they probably don’t realize that they are leaving muddy footprints on the carpet and dirty plates on the coffee table. This leaves the woman of the house to clean up after the resident male, since he can’t be bothered to do it himself. This is probably also the reason for the nagging housewife stereotype as well, come to think of it. And since smell is related to taste, it’s probably why men can (and do) eat anything if they’re hungry, even if it’s the nastiest food you can think of.

So the reason men are slobs is because of an evolutionary trait meant to benefit the best possible mating pairs in humans.

Defining the American Generations

How are the generations of people of the last century divided? Nobody is exactly sure, and the answer changes depending upon who you ask. According to Wikipedia, a “social generation” refers to people of a similar age group who share similar experiences. This makes it hard to set up specific boundaries that define each generation, since time is a solid line, and there is often overlap. In addition, the problem with generalizations is that there are always anomalies that stand out. Most people consider themselves to be anomalies, from my observations, and the generations are easier to define by someone not actually in the generation to be defined.

We can here assume for our calculation that a generation is about 15 to 25 years, marking the time the next group of people have children (at the earliest, since nowadays, people have children later in life).

The only solid reference point we have is the Baby Boom, which took place between 1946 and 1964, putting all those born within those years as Baby Boomers. This came about after the War when all the soldiers came home and all knocked up their young wives, all at the same time, and started a family, and moved to a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence (i.e. the American Dream). However, my parents would argue this, as they were both born in 1964, and do not wish to consider themselves “boomers”. This most likely comes from the fact that while the boomers are the last Americans who will receive Social Security benefits in their retirement years, my parents will get nothing, being too young. Nevertheless, let us assume the above definition is our solid, defined block on our imaginary line. The Boomers are characterized by inner-driven idealists who are self-centered, counter-culture, and expect the world to cater to their every need. These were the typical hippies.

There are four undisputed generations in the twentieth century before the Boomers: the Missionary Generation, the Lost Generation, the G.I. Generation, and the Silent Generation. The Missionary Generation refers to people born between 1860 and 1882. The people of this generation were idealist rebels who led fanatical crusades like anti-gold standard, women’s suffrage, and birth control. They focused on the spirit, but were very idealistic. The Lost Generation refers to people born between 1883 and 1900. The people of this generation were too young to fight in WWI, yet too old for WWII. The children were the reaction to the Missionary generation’s idealism, and were realists. These people suffered heavily in the Great Depression and had low self-esteem and were depressed.

The G.I. Generation refers to those who were born between 1901 and 1924. The people of this generation were very work-oriented, cleaned up the squalor of the Missionaries and the decay of the Lost ones, were very traditional in moral values and views on family, had very little interest in religion, were high achievers, and were the most affluent generation of the 20th century. The Silent Generation, like the Missionary Generation, was a crowd of idealists. Born between 1925 and 1945, these were the kids of the war. They were big on bureaucracy and didn’t lead, preferring to be second-in-command. This was a crowd of sheep, looking for leadership.

After the Boomers come two ill-defined generations, usually called Generation X and the Millennial Generation. Usually, Generation X refers to those born from the beginning of the 1960s to the early 1980s. They are more ethnically diverse than the Boomers, and tend to be better educated. They tend to come from rich families, and are independent and work-oriented. They are big on freedom and equal rights (even for things that aren’t actually rights), and like to do things by themselves. They don’t like to work, only working to live, rather than living to work like previous generations.

The Millennial Generation is so very ill-defined because nobody is sure where it begins or ends. Demographers say that the Millennials were born from the mid-1980s to about 2003. They are a very “me”-oriented generation, selfish and dependent on everybody to do things for them. However, if you ask a Millennial, like myself, they will draw a line between those born in the eighties, and those born in the nineties. People born in the eighties, now adults, tend to be more self-centric and believe what the media tells them, and tend to be stupid. People my age however, mid-to-late teens and early twenties, tend to be smarter and wiser to the world around us, and are somewhat less selfish. It’s hard to define the Millennial Generation, because we are still growing up. Those of us born in the mid-1990s see the adults in their mid-20s as selfish morons who set the culture that we live in, which promotes wrong ideals, and they are very much like those hippie boomers. We see those who were born in the late 1990s (now tweens and early teens) as foolish little kids who try to be cool, buying into the sex-crazed culture promoted by the older Millennials and younger Xers, but really end up being total idiots who don’t know how to read and think that Canada is a state. We see us as slightly smarter (but most of us are morons) and more apt to the world, but trapped in a culture that is bad, established by the Boomers, or even as far back as the Missionary Generation! We are the ones who will suffer the consequences of the twentieth century’s iniquities. As for the generation after us, nobody has a name for it, but it is thought to have begun with the kids born in 2004.

Once again, thank you for reading. I got my sources from this site.

What’s in a Name?

Names are strange things. They hold certain power over us, an idea which many ancient cultures have used in magic practices. If I called your name, you would turn around and come, even if we had never met. This power is why the Hebrews always abbreviated God’s name as YHWH, so that nobody would hold power over Him. Pagan magicians used names as part of spells, and believed that a person had a hidden, true name that could, if invoked, let the invoker hold complete power over the person.

For most of European history, people didn’t have last names. They had a first name and were distinguished from another who shared their name by specifying their father. Others had a first name and were identified by their trade. In medieval England and France, the first name would be followed by where they came from, usually for nobles, since the names of poor people didn’t matter. Nowadays, people in Christian (or post-christian) countries tend to have three names:

The first name- usually given to honor a Catholic saint. In non-catholic families in the Western world, the first name is often also to honor an ancestor, or simply a common name is picked, which often ends up being a saint’s name anyway due to the Catholic history of Protestant countries. In America, children are increasingly being named whatever the parents think is a nice name, even if it isn’t a name. The names of flowers and virtues are common for little girls born in the 2000s. Also, due to the multicultural mix of the United States, naming traditions differ. Black Americans choose names that “sound African” for their children.

The middle name- Not everybody is given a middle name. When a saint’s name is chosen for the first name, often the middle name is given to honor a deceased family member, or simply a name that the parents like.

The surname- This is the name of the family in the Western world, as well as some other cultures, passed down through the male line. In other cultures, it is given by family occupation.

Europe has a diverse naming tradition. In England, the source of first names is the Bible, due to the country’s Protestant history. Protestants take the Bible literally, and don’t believe in saints like the Catholics do, which explains their choices for names. However in England, names are chosen because the parents like the name. Another source is Celtic traditional names, for those Brits with Scottish, Welsh, or Irish heritage. Names in England tend to reflect the social class of the family as well. In most of the rest of Europe, the first name is after a saint, especially in the predominantly Catholic countries of Ireland, France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. In Italy, names aren’t even gender-specific, and most saints tend to have both a masculine and a feminine version of their names (ex: Maria and Mario). In Spain, it is common to choose names for girls after the various attributes of the Virgin Mary, from the many titles of “Our Lady of ___”. In Greece, names tend to come from history. In German-speaking countries, names are often of historical figures and famous kings, and there are some which have no equivalent in other languages. In Germany, a name has to be approved by the government, to prevent what I call “celebrity baby names” from being given to children, to their eternal shame. Scandinavian names are often rooted in Old Norse as well as saint names. Finland’s language is so different from any other country in Europe (except Hungary), that the Finns find it difficult to adapt names, and instead just borrow them, using a lot of “k”s and “i”s in the process. Iceland has strict laws on names, and derive their names from their fathers (what is called the patronymic, meaning if your name is John and your father was Fredrick, your name would be John Fredrickson, instead of John Smith). In Slavic countries, all women add “-ova” to their surname. In Eastern Europe, most names are Slavonic versions of saint names, or are only after saints in the local Orthodox Christian tradition (like in Russia, where there is a law). It is very common in Eastern Europe for a patronymic to be used instead of a last name.

In America and Canada, names are often chosen by popularity, and are usually the same as British first names, because of the British heritage, but not always, due to the cultural diversity. Also, pet names and nicknames sometimes are converted into real, legal names, and other names are purely invented, or new spellings are made. Everybody wants their child to either have a popular name, or a unique name. Unlike Europe, in the United States, it is legal to name your child whatever you wish (within reason, which leads to lawsuits when people choose copyrighted names, like names of companies). Male children are often named after their father, especially if their own fathers shared the name of their fathers. I myself have an uncle and cousin who are either have the suffixes III and IV, or IV and V. In Latin America, the naming practices are adopted from Spain and Portugal, although in some countries, both the father’s and the mother’s surname is used.

In the Arab world, most names are derived from vocabulary words (similar to the origins of Biblical names, since in the footnotes of the Bible, all the names are given as being Hebrew for an appropriate word or phrase). Almost every other name in Muslim countries is a variant of “Muhammad”, from the same root, or is a name of the Prophet’s immediate family. Arabic surnames are often patronymics, or sometimes the opposite, taking the name of a son as part of the name (teknonymy), but normal surnames are used as well.

In India, names vary incredibly, due to the many different cultures in the country. Most name their children after a deceased ancestor, because Hinduism and Buddhism both promote the belief in reincarnation. Some names follow certain caste rules, while others are after various Hindu gods. The Chinese have a very small number of surnames, but a large number of first names, due to the monoculturalism of China. Common names mean virtues or qualities that the parents want the children to have. The Vietnamese have similar rules to the Chinese, but will name their children using the Vietnamese words for almost anything: flowers, colors, even other countries! The middle name is used to denote gender. Japanese names, like Chinese names, are incredibly complicated. The Thai people, being mostly uninfluenced by colonization, have incredibly long and elaborate names. This is unsurprising, as Thai people apparently like long names, as we can see by the name of their capital, what we call “Bangkok”: “Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit”.

In non-Muslim Africa, people often have multiple first or last names, because of the cultural variety within regions, as well as the colonial influence from France, England, Portugal, and the Netherlands. Some children are given European names in school, but I suppose this was more common in the immediate post-colonial days rather than now. Common names have to do with the timing or circumstances of the baby’s birth, or to reflect the joy of the parents.

As we can see, there is a wide variety of naming practices all around the world. Names are picked to mark the individual. Some are rare, others are common. They’re very strange and mysterious things. Sometimes you get the oddest coincidences with them, like finding another person in your country that shares your very rare first name and incredibly rare last name! Sometimes people change their names, for various reasons, often because their name isn’t unique (actors cannot have the same name as any other actor, living or dead, so those with common names legally change them). As always, thank you for reading my blog, and I do hope you enjoy my posts.

Fandoms for Dummies

Assuming you know your way around the internet, you presumably know what a fandom or fanbase is. If you don’t, I shall explain. A fandom is a group of devoted fans of a certain pop culture icon, especially a TV show, a movie, or a book series. The idea of fandoms and fanbases has been around since Star Trek invented the Sci-fi Convention back in the 1960s, indeed, the third season’s existence is proof of the devotion of fans. The degree of devotion varies, but it is far different than the stereotyped nerd who is so obsessed about a particular fandom, that he forgets to live. Most fans do have real lives, and in fact, many people identify with more than one fanbase. However, if given a choice, many devoted fans would rather live in the world in which the fandom exists. Below is my handy reference guide to popular fandoms today, especially in the United States. Beware, this requires a great deal of scrolling:

—————-

Star Trek

 Since: 1966

Nickname: Trekkers for more devoted fans, the term “trekkies” is also used but is used to refer to the more obsessive nerds that generate the stereotype of no-life nerds.

Demography: Mostly women older than 40, generally single, and well educated. Fans are among the most devoted of all.

Works: Six TV series, eleven (going on 12) movies, and an expanded universe of non-canon novels.

Star Wars

 Since: 1977

Nickname: Warsies, 501st Legion

Demography: An obscure fanbase, as most people who like Star Wars also like other fanbases as well. Most fans are young boys under college age.

Works: Six movies, many video games, and an expanded universe of canon novels, to expand on the canon that was never developed in the films.

Lord of the Rings/ The Hobbit

 Since: Unknown, the earliest could have been 1937, when The Hobbit was first published.

Nickname: Tolkienites

Demography: Everybody (all ages, all races, all locations), mostly Christians who enjoy the subtext Tolkien, a devout Catholic, put into his stories.

Works: The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillon, Unfinished Tales, The History of Middle Earth saga, and The Children of Húrin. Not to mention the four (going on six) movies based on the books.

The Hunger Games

 Since: 2008

Nickname: Tributes

Demography: Children and teenagers, mostly Americans.

Works: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay, and the movies based on the books.

Doctor Who

 Since: 1963

Nickname: Whovians

Demography: Mostly everybody in Great Britain, but has gained an overseas fanbase of young people due to the success of the new series, called by fans “NuWho”. Younger fans often do not know of/enjoy the classic series (1963-1989 and 1996).

Works: Doctor Who is a television show that has run on the BBC from 1963-1989, and 2005-present. There also was a movie made, and after the series was cancelled back in 1989, stories continued to be made in the form of audios.

Harry Potter

 Since: 1997

Nickname: Potterheads, Muggles (is rare, and is sometimes used to refer to non-fans as well, as an insult).

Demography: Most people in the English-speaking world who were in childhood between 1997 and 2008, when the books were still being written, or were still relatively new. By now these fans are mostly in their late teens or in their twenties. Despite being written as a children’s story, adults found the stories gripping as well.

Works: Seven novels and eight movies (loosely) based on the books.

Twilight

 Since: 2005

Nickname: Twihards

Demography: Intended for teenagers, but really only appeals to young girls between the ages of 10 and 15.

Works: Four novels and five movies based on the books.

Glee

 Since: 2009

Nickname: Gleeks

Demography: Young, hip Americans

Works: a TV show

Game of Thrones

 Since: 1991

Nickname: none

Demography: a broad spectrum of people

Works: 5 novels currently in the series of novels A Song of Ice and Fire, a TV show based off of the books with great success

Celebrity fanbases

 Type: devoted fans of a particular celebrity, usually a popular musician or band

Nicknames: Little Monsters (Lady Gaga), Beliebers (Justin Bieber), Directioners (One Direction), Rihanna Navy (Rihanna), Fanilows (Barry Manilow), Beyhive/Beyontourage (Beyoncé), KatyCats (Katy Perry), Team Breezy (Chris Brown), Animals (Ke$ha), Barbies (Nicki Minaj), Smilers (Miley Cyrus), Swifties (Taylor Swift), Idiots (Green Day), Dolls (the Kardashian family), Cumberb*tch*s (Benedict Cumberbatch), Stans (Eminem), Hooligans (Bruno Mars), not to mention the old classic Deadheads (Grateful Dead).

Demographic: Mostly teenagers and people in their early twenties. The Deadheads are all in their forties or fifties though.

————————

But wait! I’m not quite done yet. There are some other things you need to know about fanbases. The internet has made fanbases popular and widespread, allowing fans to connect with one another. There are many websites devoted to fandoms. Most particular is the dangerous realm of fanfiction/fanart. While fanfiction is lovely, since it allows fans to share tales of the characters everybody in the fanbase knows and loves, right from the fan’s own imagination, without having to publish a great big novel, it can be a minefield of dangers if you don’t know the difference between “het”, “slash”, and “gen” fics (heterosexual romance, homosexual romance, and no romance, respectively). Consider that your official warning. Another wonderful invention of the internet is some websites where you can view TV shows for free that you would otherwise have to pay for (presumably this is legal).

There you have it, and introduction and overview of the world of fandoms. I personally am a fan of many things, being a complete nerd, some of which are rather obscure fanbases. Thanks for reading!