Over the years, physicists have done a lot to expand our perspective on the universe – but when it comes to naming their machines, they do seem to have terrible imaginations.
Why so? This week, Nature magazine reported that plans are afoot to build the successor to the Large Hadron Collider in Europe. It would dwarf the current particle accelerator, with a circumference four times the size – we’d need to build a circular, underground tunnel 100 kilometres long to accommodate it.
And what name have they chosen for this machine? The “Very Large Hadron Collider”.
Surely this physics behemoth deserves a name that befits its purpose? The accelerator would smash protons together at energies never possible before to unlock the fundamental building blocks of the Universe – specifically, it could unveil evidence of “supersymmetry”, a realm of shadowy partners of all the known particles.
It’s not like physicists are alone in their conservative naming conventions. Astronomers are no better: consider Europe’s bold plan to build one of the world’s biggest telescopes in South America. They have decided to call it...the “Extremely Large Telescope”. Though that does distinguish it from their other, smaller observatory called... you guessed it, the Very Large Telescope.
We think the Very Large Hadron Collider deserves a better name, so we asked readers for their ideas.
Some suggested greater superlatives, such as the “Super Duper Hadron Collider”, or “Ludicrously Large Hadron Collider”.
A few seemed to be hungry at the time. Bhisham Padha suggested “Space Smoothie Maker”, while Markus Greiner put forward “Big Banger”, a British word for sausage. Meanwhile, Steven Ashley’s suggestion has a certain elegance: "Quark Fountain".
Finally, a suggestion from Twitter came from Charlie Miller, who first of all suggested “HUGE Hadron Collider”, but then decided that didn’t have the necessary razzmatazz for high-energy particle physics, so put forward the following: "Large Hadron Collider 2: Electric Boogaloo" - in homage to the 1980s breakdance movie that many believe should never have been made (though we're not so sure this applies in this case).
The Hadronator: The Destroyer of Atoms
Adam Michael Dennis
SMASH .. Simulated Acceleration of Subatomic Hadron
The Dark Matter Illuminator
QUantum Intensity Collider, or QUIC
The Big Bang Propagator
Hadron Ultra Long Collider' (HULC)
Money Absorbing Thingey
Shamu the Killer Hadroncollider
Luminous Cloud Collider
The Great What Machine.
Large Hadron Collider 2: Electric Boogaloo