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VLA no more
October 18, 2011 9:55 AM   Subscribe

Rename the VLA (Very Large Array)! The famous desert radio telescope, made of a bunch of independently movable giant satellite dishes, has just finished a ten-year upgrade and they're holding a contest to pick a new name in celebration. Deadline December 1. (via Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy, which mentions another naming contest, for schoolkids in the US to pick a name for the GRAIL satellites)
posted by LobsterMitten (70 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
SUPER AWESOME ARRAY
posted by The Whelk at 9:55 AM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


The BFA.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 9:57 AM on October 18, 2011 [15 favorites]


Alien Invasion Early Warning System.
posted by empath at 9:58 AM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just submitted Argus Panoptes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:59 AM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is going to end up being named after Stephen Colbert, isn't it?
posted by schmod at 10:00 AM on October 18, 2011 [11 favorites]


I think they should name it after Carl Sagan, in all seriousness.
posted by empath at 10:00 AM on October 18, 2011 [11 favorites]


Why would they change the name of the thing with the best name ever?
posted by villanelles at dawn at 10:00 AM on October 18, 2011 [13 favorites]


Akbar & Jeff's Very Large Array and Yogurt Hut
posted by facetious at 10:00 AM on October 18, 2011 [14 favorites]


VLAx10
posted by mazola at 10:00 AM on October 18, 2011


As someone who dated/lived with a VLA astronomer(*), I am %100 opposed to this.

(*) Of course, she's now at ALMA, which will make the VLA look puny.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:01 AM on October 18, 2011


Or 'The Saganator'
posted by mazola at 10:01 AM on October 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Notorious V.L.A.
posted by dismas at 10:03 AM on October 18, 2011 [15 favorites]


pick a name for the GRAIL satellites

Zoot and Dingo.
posted by Anything at 10:03 AM on October 18, 2011 [6 favorites]


The unfunny, unsnarky answer is to just call it the Carl Sagan VLA and be done with it.
posted by Faint of Butt at 10:05 AM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Or perhaps something that alludes to it's main features: increased sensitivity, reliable, safe:

The Trojan Ultra Thin Array.
posted by mazola at 10:05 AM on October 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Steve.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:05 AM on October 18, 2011


The Fing-Longer
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:06 AM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


The unfunny, unsnarky answer is to just call it the Carl Sagan VLA and be done with it.

Of course, then they would have to end up naming it the BHA VLA.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:13 AM on October 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


VLA Blue
posted by chavenet at 10:14 AM on October 18, 2011


Seriously, why fix it if it ain't broken? It's new and improved, sure, but is it still an array? Yes. Is it still large? Yes. Very large? Yes. Then it's still the Very Large Array. Accept no substitutes.
posted by vibrotronica at 10:15 AM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


iVLA?
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:20 AM on October 18, 2011


The Array formerly known as Very Large.
posted by h0p3y at 10:20 AM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Behemoth High-bandwidth Array

(which is also BHA for the Sagan-ites)
posted by mazola at 10:24 AM on October 18, 2011


pick a name for the GRAIL satellites

Apollo 13: THE REVENGE
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:26 AM on October 18, 2011


As someone who dated/lived with a VLA astronomer, I am %100 opposed to this.
lived with a what now?

Anywho, I say Capricorn II
posted by obscurator at 10:27 AM on October 18, 2011


Metafilter: VLA
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:28 AM on October 18, 2011


'ip 'ip 'array!
posted by kcds at 10:33 AM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


The GHAST - Goddamn Huge Amount of Satellite Thingies
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:35 AM on October 18, 2011


The Even Very Larger Array?
posted by carter at 10:38 AM on October 18, 2011


pick a name for the GRAIL satellites

Vroomfondel and Majikthise
posted by Rock Steady at 10:40 AM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Of course, then they would have to end up naming it the BHA VLA.

Dammit, that was the joke I came here to make.

I didn't know we had a VLA. It's fucking awesome. Where do I get one?
posted by spitefulcrow at 10:42 AM on October 18, 2011


I tried Very Grand Earthbound Radiotelescope (vee-jer).
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:43 AM on October 18, 2011


DTMFVLAA
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:46 AM on October 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well the site does have a form where you just suggest a new suffix, so everyone just go suggest Sagan Very Large Array.
posted by Roman Graves at 10:48 AM on October 18, 2011


Big-Ass Telescope?

In all seriousness, though, when I was in high school our youth group was put in charge of naming a new media center at the church, which was to incorporate the name of the recently deceased father of one of the girls in the youth group. People tried coming up with clever backronyms with the name and everything before I finally asked why we weren't just calling it "Bogan Hall" and nobody could give an answer.

All this to say that this is the Carl Sagan VLA and I don't know where we expect to get by having this contest.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:50 AM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Big Ears.
posted by Decani at 10:53 AM on October 18, 2011


That Giant Thing Roy Scheider Climbed Down From At The Start of the Movie 2010 (Which Was Otherwise Unremarkable And Best Ignored).
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:54 AM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Akbar & Jeff's Very Large Array and Yogurt Hut

Where the elite meet to eat frozen treats and greet alien beasts.
posted by bondcliff at 10:57 AM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


AILF
posted by PlusDistance at 11:06 AM on October 18, 2011


Sagan meant as much to me in my youth as the next guy, but he had nothing to do with the VLA or, as far as I know, radio astronomy at all. He pretty much didn't do any astronomy after he got famous—he spent his time at his xenobiology lab at Cornell, mostly.

It really oughtn't be named after him.

If it must be renamed, and for a person, I'd much prefer it be named after Jocelyn Bell.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:08 AM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why would they change the name of the thing with the best name ever?

This was my reaction exactly.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:08 AM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


VLA1
posted by mazola at 11:17 AM on October 18, 2011


Dish: It Just Got Real
posted by ShutterBun at 11:18 AM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


As someone who dated/lived with a VLA astronomer(*), I am %100 opposed to this.

I hate it when people repeat the last word from an acronym (like "PIN number"). Or were you not saying that you dated/lived with a very large astronomer?

(honey, does this make my array look very large?)
posted by madmethods at 11:19 AM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why not rotate sponsorship and naming on an annual basis? This year could be the Array of The Whopper.
posted by jquinby at 11:29 AM on October 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Monitoring Ambient Noise Telescopic Array..
MANT Array!
posted by hypersloth at 11:35 AM on October 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Sagan meant as much to me in my youth as the next guy, but he had nothing to do with the VLA or, as far as I know, radio astronomy at all.

Through making it part of Contact he brought it into the public consciousness more than anyone else. I was a space science geek as a kid, and while I was fascinated with Arecibo I barely knew about the VLA.
posted by sbutler at 11:42 AM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm going to put my money on The Stephen Colbert Very Large Array.
posted by odinsdream at 11:50 AM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


IQRPRR - Incredibly Quickly Re-Positioning Radio Receivers
Oh wait a minute, maybe dozens of commercials and cheesy sci-fi movies lied to me about how fast those buggers swing through the air...

Seriously, I vote for anything decent that incorporates Sagan. Cosmos talked about VLA a bunch - as well as the mentioned Contact.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 11:53 AM on October 18, 2011


Given the competition for ever scarcer funding, you have to throw in something that will reassure the electorate that We Are Doing Everything We Cantm and are not wasting your tax dollars. I give you:

The Enhanced American Space Freedom and Extraterrestrial Anti-Terrorism Security Extension Array

EASFEATSEA
posted by Xoebe at 12:14 PM on October 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ultimate Array 2.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:34 PM on October 18, 2011


As a former VLA astronomer, I am also %100 opposed to this.

Although, I could quite easily be talked into supporting "VLA 2: Radio Wave Boogaloo".
posted by ewagoner at 12:45 PM on October 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


ANADRA

The Absolutely Not A Death Ray Array

or

QPADRA

The Quite Possibly A Death Ray Array
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:28 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd go with the Pretty Big Array, but then I am originally from the Midwest.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:39 PM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think it should be called The Very Large Array.

I think it will be called The Pepsico Brands Very Large Array,
    until they sell it* and it becomes The Quicken Loans Very Large Array,
      until they sell it and it becomes The Disney Very Large Array,
        until they sell it. . .

 
"It" being the 'naming rights' which will surely go up for sale.
 
posted by Herodios at 1:45 PM on October 18, 2011


The 'Your Mom' Array
posted by midmarch snowman at 2:21 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Array Of Unusual Size
posted by bleep at 2:56 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it will be called The Pepsico Brands Very Large Array...

The Tucks Medicated Pad Array...
The Trial-Sized Dove Bar Array...
The Depends Adult Undergarment Array...
posted by lekvar at 3:35 PM on October 18, 2011


I love love love the VLA. Not just because of what it is and what it does, but because of what experiencing it is like.

If you're ever in a position to drive US Hwy 60 out of central New Mexico and into Arizona (or the other direction), it's a truly astounding thing. The VLA itself is situated in a huge bowl of Earth surrounded by various mountain ranges. You can see it from a long long distance away, because you're approaching it from above. And you keep driving toward it, and driving toward it, and driving toward it... for what seems like forever, and suddenly you're driving through it, and the individual saucers themselves are enormous, and the tracks they can ride on to get the various sizes of the array are hugely long.

It truly feels like some kind of wondrous science experiment out in the middle of nowhere, which is exactly what it is.

I've only been through it a few times, but it's never in the same configuration when I've been there... with the dishes pointing differently or in different positions along the tracks.

It's one of those things which makes science feel large and mysterious and technological and fantastic all at the same time.

I'm tickled that they've done so many improvements to it that they feel it is now an entirely new creation in need of a new name. That feels like something rare in this age of budget cutbacks and anti-science sentiment.

I don't care what they rename it as long as I know that US60 will continue to pass through it, because I know I will be able to make that drive and feel that same sense of wonder for that portion of the trip again and again.
posted by hippybear at 3:53 PM on October 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


My dad wrote about this earlier this week; they've been bouncing names around on Twitter off and on since. I like Too Big To Fail Array and The +5 Array of Radio Listening personally, but he's a bit attached to iVLA, which I think would only be appropriate if they were making it out of white plastic or brushed aluminum.
posted by NoraReed at 5:13 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seeing as how the one thing my friends and I thought to do when we went to visit the VLA was to take pictures of ourselves sitting on the hood of our rental car listening for alien signals, I am fully in support of "Carl Sagan VLA."

I'm also happy to leave it as VLA, or rename it to "90 miles away from Pie Town, New Mexico."
posted by chrominance at 5:41 PM on October 18, 2011


The Just Peanuts To Space Array.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:33 PM on October 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Probably Compensating for Something Array
posted by argonauta at 7:09 PM on October 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh god. Anything but iVLA. Unless they WANT it to sound anachronistic and out of date ten years from now.
posted by Yowser at 9:35 PM on October 18, 2011


If you find yourself in the central NM area for some reason, you owe it to yourself to go see the VLA. You can go any time of the year, but if you go on one of the days the "nearby"* Trinity Site is open, they also have guided tours. I think the guided tours are the only way you can see the control rooms.


*By NM standards. It's actually two hours away.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:33 PM on October 18, 2011


Array, a Drop of Golden Sun
The Array of the Chewable Ambien Tab
posted by bleep at 12:07 AM on October 19, 2011


The "HOLY MOLEY!" array.
posted by Twang at 1:01 AM on October 19, 2011


The Please Don't Use The Word "Listen" Array
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:00 AM on October 19, 2011


Happy to be Funded Array
As Seen on TV Array
We Can Hear You Now
[]
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:48 AM on October 19, 2011


The Discarded D-cup Sensorium Field
posted by gorgor_balabala at 9:34 PM on October 19, 2011


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