Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The New & Improved Very Large Array

You remember the hullabaloo (or maybe you don't) between The Colbert Nation & NASA. The gist is NASA had a contest to name....something. I think it might have been a room on the space station.  Whatever it was, NASA had suggestions & the rest of us were supposed to choose fom among them.  & then Stephen Colbert started campaigning that the room (I looked it up, it was a room) be named for him.  & the rest is history.  Or not, actually.  Apparently NASA reserves the right to override any winning suggestions & may or may not have exercised it.  I don't know.  Google it your damn self.   Alright, I did google it.  NASA conceded & named a treadmill after Stephen Colbert instead.  

Well, forget NASA, this time it is the NRAO renaming their Very Large Array.  First let me say how much I already like NRAO's naming style over NASA's.  Apparently the COLBERT treadmill is really the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance treadmill.  This refusal to choose the voted on name because it doesn't fit their vision & then backwards engineering the choosen name so the letters first letters of the elobarota NASA-name spell it tells us all a little something about NASA.  On the other hand we have the NRAO, who apparently took a look at a very large array & said "Let's call it the Very Large Array".

& the Very Large Array it remained, so-named in the movie Contact & right up through Terminator Salvation although they called it SkyNet.   It was the backdrop for way-too-many music videos, documentaries, comic books & on & on. 

The Very Large Array is located in New Mexico, more or less out on it's own.  It is in a county with a population somewhat less than 20K people; 6 towns, villages & localities; 11 ghost towns & 49 listings on the National Register of Historic Places-10 of which have restricted addresses; in other words yes they are historic but the public cannot know exactly where they are.  Before you start thinking Roswell (actually in another, non-adjacent county),  I checked, they are all archeological digs & I know from talking with people in the biz there is quite a black market for artifacts from same.  Or maybe that is just the cover story.

So there it is, the Very Large Array, getting all upgraded & shiny & new.  & here is your chance to name it.  Unlike NASA they are offering no suggestions, except that they just might keep the Very Large Array & add a prefix.  As in The New & Improved Very Large Array.

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