Name the array

The main lesson I learned in writing New Eyes on the Universe is that physical scientists love acronyms, the more tortured the better. Anyone know what CANGAROO stands for? Or EDELWEISS? Or EURECA?

Perhaps it’s inevitable that scientists try to come up with ‘catchy’ acronyms for their grant proposals, but to my mind they’re acting like parents don’t give sufficient thought when naming their offspring. (If your surname is Dwyer, don’t call your daughter Barb. If your surname is King, don’t call your son Lee.) Occasionally an observatory is rescued from the blandness of an acronym. The Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST) was renamed as the result of a public competition held by NASA; it’s now known as Fermi. Much better.

You now have the chance to do a similar service for another observatory. The Very Large Array (VLA) has been upgraded, and the NRAO are looking for a name for the vastly improved facility. Visit Name the Array, and you have the chance to give this wonderful observatory an imaginative and memorable name.

Very Large Array

The Very Large Array - it's about to be renamed
Credit: NRAO

My choice? Reber telescope. (And that’s in honour of Grote Reber. It doesn’t stand for Really Exceptionally Big and Extraordinary Radio telescope…)