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2.
The point at which circumstance reveals unambiguously the need to change.
After working late one night I returned home to find my family celebrating my first child's birthday with a party which I had completely forgotten about, and it was a Sputnik moment that made me realize the need to spend more time with my kids.
by m0llusk October 28, 2006
 
1.
A term popularized (although not coined, as many think) after being used by President Barack Obama in his 2011 State of the Union Address. It refers to a moment of challenge when a country (or person) realizes they must work harder to surpass their competitor. Caught on like wildfire that same night as Twitter users & others found the phrase catalyzed adolescent-like paroxysms of merriment for no absolutely discernible reason other than joyful immaturity.
Greg had his Sputnik Moment when he realized he was the same age as the dude who founded Facebook.

Jim: Dude, I just had my Sputnik Moment about Jenny.
Josh: What was it dude?
Jim: I caught her in a Sputnik Moment with Niles.
by PsiChic January 27, 2011
 
3.
An abstract conversational reference that a person makes to an event that happened before their time to a current event - trying to draw a comparison that leaves the listener in question as to what was being compared.
Pop: I am so tired of paying these taxes, we need to throw the tea into the harbor and show them we're serious.

Jimmy: Why is Pop talking about tea?

Mary: Don't worry- he's having a Sputnik Moment.
by Habbie January 26, 2011