BBC Future

The ‘Very Large’ Hadron Collider needs a better name

About the author

Richard Fisher is the deputy editor of BBC Future. Twitter: @rifish

(Science Photo Library)

(Science Photo Library)

If built, the successor to the Large Hadron Collider will be one of the most incredible machines we have ever made, and it deserves a fitting title.

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".

Others were mildly strange, such as “the doughnut of physics” from Alison Fareham, or Joanna Fleming’s proposal for the “Megahadrosaurousen”, which sounds like a duck-billed dinosaur.

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).

What would you call the VLHC? Head over to our Facebook page or reply to us on Twitter to add your ideas.

More suggestions:

The Hadronator: The Destroyer of Atoms
Adam Michael Dennis

SMASH .. Simulated Acceleration of Subatomic Hadron
Farai Chayambuka

The Dark Matter Illuminator
William Buchanan

QUantum Intensity Collider, or QUIC
Stephen Coneglan

The Big Bang Propagator
Stephen Moody

Hadron Ultra Long Collider' (HULC)
Christos Ntanos

Money Absorbing Thingey
Rachel Raub

Shamu the Killer Hadroncollider
Fred Baube

Luminous Cloud Collider
Chas Ward

The Great What Machine.
@holten

Supercalifragilisticlargehadroncollider
@lukemckinney

Large Hadron Collider 2: Electric Boogaloo