What exactly does Half-Life mean?



The definition of Half-Life is pretty bogus, and doesn't seem to have to do anything with the game. Anyone know why they called the game Half-Life?
Chances are that it is a play on words.

Gordon Freeman is fairly young when he is thrown into the whole mess at Black Mesa, and god knows what after he starts working for the G-Man...so one could say he has only had a half of a life (thus Half-Life)..and then the play on words comes in with the whole time for a Radioactive material to decompose to half it's original mass.
You see the funny upside down Y symbol. The greek Letter Lambda. Well the symbol for Half Life in physics equations. I think thats why the called it Half Life

And its the symbol for wavelength so its a funny old one.
I thought using "Half-life" was a clever way to both convey the science-fiction premise and a peculiar set of relevant artistic ideas.

The term "half-life" is a cultural currency: say half-life and people think of one thing first (in the population): nuclear disaster - half-life being the measurement of how long it takes for half a given mass of a radioactive isotope to decay into a stable form. That ominous overtone offsets other present uses for half-life neatly, including understanding lost histories through radioactive decay (usually carbon dating), medical cures that kill only slightly less than they heal, and so on. Everything to do with half-life - in our culture - is a mixed message, a dilemma, and usually it opposes science and technology against "humanities". That cultural background really speaks rather well to the state of affairs at Black Mesa, even if it wasn't precisely nuclear experimentation that went awry. It's a title that means a lot to people, and communciates a lot about the moral and ethical tensions of the game as a work of art in its own right, while consuming only eight letters (or just the one in Greek...).

Geez. I'm going to get a beer.
or maybe they chose it just becuz it sounds cool :p like quake, that has nothing to do with the plot in the quake games..
Quake - a game built around events caused by forces emanating from netherworlds...

Quake - an event caused by forces emanating from the earth's core...

Nah. No parallels there.
Half-life represents the radioactive decay of something. The Lambda represents wavelengths in physics. Why Valve used these? Who knows? Maybe it sounded cool so they stuck with it.
Or maybe it's a secret in the twisted world of Half-Life, and has something to do with the resonese cascade caused by pushing the sample into the radioactive beam.
I actually asked my physics teacher what a resonance cascade was...and he had never heard of it, me thinks it is a combination of two physics buzzwords that sound like a catastrope, and therefore could be used in the game.
Maybe you should have asked a chemistry teacher. It is a real term, just look at all the scientific crap it brings up on Google.
Resonance has more to do with Physics, so why would I ask a chemistry teacher?
Originally posted by 2ltben
Maybe you should have asked a chemistry teacher. It is a real term, just look at all the scientific crap it brings up on Google.

It does?!?
All I saw were upmteen references to HalfLife and a bunch of new age mumbo jumbo...

To paraphrase one of the "scientific" entires...

"The mind can recognize love because when a person hugs you the wavelength of the energy released matches that in your DNA and creates a Resonance Cascade"

so...every time someone hugs you, aliens start busting out of the walls and killing all your friends...and then the military clean up crew shows up and tries to kill you.

sounds good enough to me.
Half-Life means consecvenses.

Thets what I have heard anyway
Here's the defintion from dictionary.com

half life

n : the time required for something to fall to half its initial value (in particular, the time for half the atoms in a radioactive substance to disintegrate)
Half-Life is the time it takes for a radioactive substance to half its radioactivity. Thats a simple and correct explanation for it. The reason they used it for the half-life game, I do not know. Maybe we will find out in hl2 :D
Yea its to do with a Radioactive Isotope and how long it takes to loose its Radioactivity (Half-Life)
Originally posted by Steeler82
The definition of Half-Life is pretty bogus, and doesn't seem to have to do anything with the game. Anyone know why they called the game Half-Life?

All the people that play Half-Life, only got a half real life ;)
I always put it down to the fact that it's only Half-Life (not 'Full Life'). Ie. Not fully realistic, but not completely unrealistic either.
Half-life is whats happening to the black mesa after gordon blew up that reacter, its the time spent after the explosions, and I also believe it suits well with the idea of FPS, your only using half your life when your playing, your mind, and the other half, your body, which is not really there, only your mind is.....

This is my thoughts, a 4 year HLDM veteran. The best 4 years gaming i have ever played, I have played every game to be played in the FPS genre and Half-Life's Original death match to me is the most enjoyable and hardest to play FPS-OLG to date.

Since a half life is the time it takes for a radioactive material to half its radioactivity maybe they chose halflife becuase its just that.. the time between it beeing radioactive and then non radioactive? halflife started with a big bang, the machine that exploaded and all the aliens came.. then in the end the threat was defeated, hence the name :p
At a guess, I'd say it's the same reason that Deus Ex and Quake were so named: it sounds cool.
Deus Ex is drawn from the old theatrical / later literary device, "Deus Ex Machina" - literally, "god from the machine".

Ion Storm probably intended this literal meaning - that's a no-brainer, considering the content of the game.

However, this term is used to describe a forced resolution or ending brought about by the intervention of a higher power - an artifice to resolve the loose ends of the plot. In old theatre, "god" would descend from above into the midst of the action, to make things right and generally satisfy the audience. Ion Storm probably also meant this meaning to be part of Deus Ex's title, as the ending is very definitely resolved by means of powerful interventions.

And yes, it does sound cool - but I do think that somewhere along the way, these companies do have people working for them that are marginally more literate than your average grade four student, and so are probably fully aware of the interesting connotations of their titles.
Someone said the greek letter lambda symbolizes half-life in physics. That's almost true.
λ symbolizes the decay constant which can be derived from the half-life of a substance by: λ = ln2 / T½
Where T½ is the half-life.