Where strange fact and stranger fiction collide
If you ask most astronauts or astronomers when did they first think about getting into the space biz, they usually say when they were kids and were watching Star Trek. A lot of people who push the envelope into the STEM world grew up as geeks. It makes since that when they made their big scientific breakthrough they harken back to their geek idols and heroes, even if they are fictitious. Here is a list of Scientific-y things that have geeky names. Now with so many new things rolling out I only hit the tip of the ice berg so feel free to add your geek inspired science on the comments.
The space shuttle Enterprise. Probably the biggest geek homage that intuitional science ever made to things geek is the name of the first space shuttle, The Enterprise. Though it never went in to space it took flight on February 18th 1977.There was no attempt to cover up the ST:TOS, origins of the name. In fact I think the public embraced it even more because it was named after the fictional star ship.
Computer Virus and Cyberspace. It is hard for millennial geeks to understand how grown breaking and game c hanging William Gibson’s Neromancer really was back in 1983. Mainly because they never made a Neuromancer movie. But it ushered the cyberpunk ethos, and in ways paved the way for modern computer life. Sure Gibson missed somethings, his future noir criminals use pay phones instead of cell phones, but he also coined many terms that are part of our modern vernacular in the book like cyberspace and computer virus.
8347 Lallaward. In the 1970’s Lalla ward play Romona II on the English TV show Dr. Who. For my money she was the cutest of all the Doctor’s companions (And yes I am including Amy Pond) Well a lot of fan boys thought the same way I did, and one of them happened to be an astronomer who named an asteroid after her. 8347 Lallaward. Which if you ask me is pretty awesome.
Cuthlhu. Lovecraft’s big squid head has a lot of loyal fans, and some of them are scientists. If HPL had a regular job that didn’t have anything to do with writing it would have be astronomer. Unfortunately his childhood illnesses prevented him from attending college. But several fans who did become scientists, used his most famous creation as inspirations in naming some of their discoveries.
In 1994 a California spider was named Pimoa cthulhu Micro-organisms that help termites digest wood have been named after Cthulhu and Cythlla. In the mythos Cythlla is Cuthlhus daughter, who will give birth to an immortal body that his soul will inhabit after his original body is destroyed.
A region of the dwarf planet Pluto has been given the provisional name Cthulhu Regio. It is important to remember that one of Lovecraft’s most famous aliens the Mi-Go (AKA the Fungi from Yougoth) used Pluto as a staging base for this solar system, so don’t blame me if you get your head cut open and your brain is stuck into a jar.
The International Space Station Toilet. Ok for the record the ISS recycling and reclamation unit is called Tranquility, after the area on the moon that the Apollo 11 lander landed, but when NASA had a poll to see what it should be named the lead choice was Serenity, after the spaceship from the TV show Firefly. Now this in itself is pretty geeky but then Steven Colbert got involved.
He tried to get NASA to name it after him, and urged his “Colbert nation” to vote for naming it after himself.. And though it wasn’t an official choice, write in votes for naming it after the late night host began to take the lead. Just when it looked like Steve and Joss Whedon would have to fight it out to the death in the secret NASA gladiatorial pits, NASA pulled rank chose the name Tranquility. Don’t feel too bad for, Whedon and Colbert. They names a treadmill on the ISS after Steven, and agreed Joss can direct upcoming future Mars landing. (Uh, in case you didn’t know I made that part up, the part about the fake Mars landing not the part about the treadmill.)
The Khaliissi Slug. I am like the only nerd out there who is not into The Game of Thrones, but my understanding is that Khaliissi, is another name for the hot, so blonde her hair is white chick, who is also known as baby-momma of dragons. Well now there is a slug named after that title. I guess it is kind of dragon looking but I really think that just like with Lalla Ward it has to do with how hot the actress is. I mean how can a girl (or guy not take notice) when you enshrine their name or character in to the history of science.
Apollo 10. Apollo 10 has been called, “the dress rehearsal for landing a man on the moon.” So what did they call the space ship that was the for-runner of this historic event? Snoopy and Charlie Brown. Snoopy was the lunar module and the command module was CB. It shows just how influencing Charles Shultz comic was. Snoopy was jettison into space, and the astronauts returned to the Earth in Charlie Brown. Snoopy is still out there in space, somewhere orbiting the sun. Apollo 10, has gotten some resurgence in the twenty-first century, because of the recording of “Space music” which some believe to be an alien sonata but is most probably some kind of radio interference between the two space ships.
The Bird of Prey. The real Bird of Prey was an experimental military aircraft that never made it to mass production. In Star Trek they were the names of space vessels used by the Romulan and latter Klingon spaceship. The reasons why they names the plane BoP is obvious, like the Klingon ship it has wings swept forward, but more importantly it could change colors depending on the environment below it, a primitive version of a cloaking device.
Han Solo Trilobites. Of course the Han Solo Trilobite was named after the legendary smuggler, but the man who discovered it claims it was named after the Han Dynasty (Since it was found in China) and Solo because it the last of its line. Maybe he was afraid of Lucas’ army of lawyers, but that doesn’t make sense because solo means lone not last and why the Han Dynasty when the trilobites were long dead before that period in Chinese history. Not to be left out the there is a moth named after his co-pilot named Wokia Chewbacca.
J.R.R. Tolkien. The winner of the Scientific-y things named after his creation award, is not a science fiction writer, but a fantasy Writer J.R.R. Tolkien. There is a crater in Mercury named Tolkien. The black space on Pluto’s moon is called Mordor. There is a software company named Palintir (named after the seer stones in the Lord of the Rings) A beetle named Hobbits, a fossilized mammal named after Middle Earth’s giant elephants, Another fossilized mammal named in Elvish, a wasp and a fish named after Goulium, and no less than twenty moths names after Tolkien characters.