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'3 Body Problem': A Glossary of All the New Terms from Netflix's New Sci-Fi Series

Clueless about sophons in Netflix’s epic sci-fi series? Don't know what a chaotic era is? PEOPLE has you covered with a spoiler-free glossary of terms

<p>Courtesy of Netflix</p> Eiza González in

Courtesy of Netflix

Eiza González in '3 Body Problem.'

3 Body Problem isn’t a show to pay half-attention to.

Liu Cixin’s award-winning novel of the same name has been called “wildly imaginative” by Barack Obama and "breathtaking" by George R. R. Martin — and Netflix’s series adaptation appears just as ambitious.

While that means being taken on a vast adventure through time and space, it also means learning some new terms along the way. What are sophons? Who are the San-Ti? And what the heck is a chaotic era?

Below, PEOPLE's spoiler-free 3 Body Problem glossary has you covered. Read on, and the show’s sprawling journey will be that much clearer when you stream it.

Chaotic Era
A period of time when the San-Ti’s planet is essentially caught between two of the suns in its solar system. When this happens, their planet goes back and forth between being a searing, endless stretch of desert or frozen no-man's-land.

<p>Courtesy of Netflix</p> Eve Ridley in '3 Body Problem.'

Courtesy of Netflix

Eve Ridley in '3 Body Problem.'

Related: Game of Thrones Creators to Adapt Sci-Fi Trilogy The Three-Body Problem at Netflix

Judgment Day
A ship carrying San-Ti sympathizers, including Mike Evans (Jonathan Pryce), who view the traveling aliens almost like deities.

The Oxford Five
A close group of scientists, including Jin Cheng (Jess Hong), Saul Durand (Jovan Adepo), Will Downing (Alex Sharp) and Jack Rooney (John Bradley), who undertake the unenviable task of saving the world... No pressure.

Particle Accelerators
Machines that produce and speed up particles. The largest particle accelerator on Earth is the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland, which is capable of recreating the conditions of the universe after the Big Bang. The ring-shaped accelerator measures more than 16 miles in circumference and lies 109 yards underground.

<p>Courtesy of Netflix</p> Jovan Adepo, Alex Sharp and John Bradley in '3 Body Problem.'

Courtesy of Netflix

Jovan Adepo, Alex Sharp and John Bradley in '3 Body Problem.'

Related: The Best Shows on Netflix to Stream Now

Sophons
These are proton particles that, through extensive work by the San-Ti, have been transformed into tiny supercomputers. The first season focuses on just two sophons, but they’re capable of processing extraordinary amounts of information.

Sophon is also the name of a physical San-Ti ambassador (Sea Shimooka) who communicates with humans in a futuristic VR game and in the real world.

San-Ti
The San-Ti, a name that translates to “three-body” in Mandarin, are a race of technologically-advanced aliens on their way to Earth. It will take the San-Ti nearly 400 years to arrive, but they make their presence known to humanity much sooner than that.

Stable Era
A period of time when the San-Ti’s planet revolves around just one of the suns in its solar system. When this happens, their planet is easily inhabitable.

Related: The Best Original Series on Netflix to Stream Now

<p>Courtesy of Netflix</p> Sea Shimooka in '3 Body Problem.'

Courtesy of Netflix

Sea Shimooka in '3 Body Problem.'

Three-Body Problem
A scenario when three celestial objects — planets, stars, or suns — exert force onto one another. When those three or more bodies all exert force onto one another, their orbit becomes chaotic and hard to predict. Unlike ours, the San-Ti’s planet exists in a solar system with three suns. Because of that, their planet swings back and forth between chaotic and stable eras.

Wallfacers
Three individuals carefully selected for a United Nations project to independently develop confidential plans, kept only in their minds, to defeat the San-Ti.

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Season 1 of 3 Body Problem is available to stream on Netflix.

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