From the most insignificant of observations to the building blocks of life in the universe, geniuses are plagued with a lack of creativity when pushed outside their equations and theoretical physics and given the chore of naming shit.
Just The Facts
- Scientists obviously have better things to do than make shit up.
- If you can't make shit up, design a program to do it for you.
- Next step to naming star systems is to use personal email addresses so aliens can communicate with star finders.
Near and Far: A Guide To Why People Suck At Naming Important Things
A Solar System Near and Far
Oort is the God of War.
There's really no need to look any further than our own solar system to find mankind's miscontribution to intergalactic labeling. First off, these brilliant people named our sun, which is a very near star to us, the Sun. Really? And they named our solar system, surprise, surprise: Solar System. Ingenious. Now, let's back up for a second. There are 8 planets circling our sun along with several dwarf planets, one in which we decided to add to the cluster because, what the hell, why leave out the little guy? Even that midget got a better name than Earth. Starting with Mercury. The name sounds fine but the reason behind it is basically as stupid as Earth. Earth has a lot of earth, and Mercury has a lot of mercury. Here's an idea, let's bridge the gap of psychological implications that divides what one is and who one is, give each planet a personality, and just name it after its most reputable characteristic. But, at least they got Mercury right. If these troglodytes had named Earth (or Gaia which is more preferred) after its most definable feature, it should have been named Water, or Aqua, or in New Age, H2O.
Then they get creative. Venus. Sounds exotic. Mars Sounds martian. Jupiter. Sounds big. Saturn. Sounds circular. Uranus. Sounds, well, at least someone had a sense of humor. Neptune. Somehow sounds green. Pluto. Sounds like the eighth dwarf. Even further out are two clusters of solar system forming debris with much more badass names: Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud. Kuiper sounds like a futile name some MMA parent gave his son when he dreamed about that kid beating up your son and taking his damn lunch money. Or in today's society, his cafeteria debit card. And Oort. Who wants to muck with anything named Oort? If Oort Cloud was named after what it was made out of, then Oort must translate somehow into "Big Bad Motherfucker Who Will Choke Your Kids And Destroy Your God." Thanks to whoever spawned the likes of the Dutch astronomer credited for proving the existence of this cloud, Jan Hendrik Oort not only contributed a great deal to science and to our understanding of our solar system and the paths of comets, but his name truly instilled in the hearts of every Sci-fi fan a morsel of fear and worship. "Pray to Oort, or He will roll a comet-sized bowling ball up your planet's stinkhole."
Before heading out into the distance of space, let's recap on some of the brilliance science has lent us. Our planet is called Earth. Our moon is called Moon. Our sun is called Sun. Our solar system is called Solar System. Either astronomy has been filled with accidental idiot-geniuses or super-powered egomaniacs who wanted to stamp their dominance on the entire universe by saying, "Yes, your planets, moons, sun, and solar system have actual names, but ours is so much more important, we wanted to make sure you damn well wouldn't forget it."
A Galaxy Near and Far
A Scientific Guide to Getting Published
Now, let's jump into the Daedalus (not the whimpy Britsh project but the interstellar and intergalactic spaceship from the Stargate series) and take a ride around the galaxy. Not the smooth-sounding, you-got-a-billion-stars-inside-you galaxy. Just the Milky Way galaxy. Apparently, a bunch of prehistoric grandparents to the Woodstock movement of the 1960s were on exploration when they stumbled upon a clearing (when they ran out of weed). The smoke cleared except one massive bright streak across the sky like a runner in the solar system's underwear. "Dude! Look at that shit. It's all white and milky. It's like a milky road. Man, I wish I could swim in it and drink it. Dude, my mouth is dry." And, from that day forward, from generation to generation, for thousands of years, as modern man views the extraordinaire of this galactic body, we are constantly reminded of how stoners made our world in their image by naming shit that corresponded to their hash side-effects.
This is rather unfortunate because swarming around our own solar system are such charismatic bodies as Alpha Centauri, Procyon, Sirius, UV Ceti, Tau Ceti, Altair, and many others. However, just to remind us that not all is great in naming shit that isn't ours, many other solar systems are simply given alpha-numeric names along with two others that really stand out. GI876 and planet and Groombridge 1618. Now, I would love to go into technical and historic detail on these solar systems, but sometimes you can judge a book by its title. The GI876 solar system is so important to us that we just typed some random letters, tapped in several numbers, and attached a byline that says, "This solar system only has one planet." This solar system is so weak, it's like an ice skater with one hanging low and another one in the side pocket just in case.
Which brings us to Groombridge 1618. In obvious celebration of the death of Stephen Groombridge in 1838, a small science advisory committee thought, "What the hell. The man's dead. The least we could do is publish something he wrote." That something just happened to be a star in the A Catalog of Circumpolar Stars with the entry number of 1618. So, as not to put the man's entire legacy and work to shame, they slapped two reference points together (a personnel entry and a star entry number) and called it a day. So, to recap. If you want to ensure your dominance on planet Earth and beyond, be among the handful of stars with documented names by looking up, plotting it, finding its entry number (or creating one), and die before you publish your work. God knows only the dead are given credit for their contributions.
A Cluster Near and Far
Fear is in the mouth of Pac-Man.
Now that we've covered our own galaxy, let's hop back into the Daedalus and climb out of the melting pot of the Milky Way galaxy and into the first group of galaxies. Upon arrival to the central point of this group, the crew members of the Daedalus are informed they have just reached the most central point of the first group of charted galaxies know as the Local Group. Further spanning out our importance and centrality in the universe, we continuously draw lines in the night's sky with names that will ultimately draw any other life in the universe to worship at our feet as our home address among the stars is definably the most accurate and important of all.
But, before exploring out of the Local Group, let's look at what we missed out on by allowing a group of grass-smokers to indiscriminately name our most awesome galaxy. Just north of Milky Way is Sextans and Draco. Apparently, just on top of our own galactic bunk bed, Sextanians are fucking and obviously a lot to contract a name like that. Or, maybe, it was the guy that named it. Either way, we obviously contracted our Milky Way name by the silhouette effect of the ooze that ran down the sheets of the Sextans bunk bed and washed up on our side of space.
Meanwhile, a bit further north (as if directions really exist in space) is the Draco galaxy. Hoping not to disseminate the solid compound and erection this name implores, I decided not to research its origin and just let its name tell a better story. We can take a correlation course, toss Draco in the middle, and imply the name Drake before Draco and the name Dracula after Draco. Drake - Draco - Dracula. It makes perfect sense. If you look around the map of the Local Group, you will notice there's not a lot of company documented. This could be because the archives have not been updated or at some point in the origins of this group, Draco flew his galaxy-sized spaceship around the northern-most arena of the Local Group and gobbled up all the other galaxies like a pot-induced, speed-injected Pac Man leaving only a few remaining galaxies in the aftermath to spread his gospel.
After worshipping at the feet of mighty Draco, the Daedalus takes a freefall to the very edge of the most southern regions of the Local Group to find Phoenix. Unlike Draco, Phoenix decided not to leave any survivors and lives alone in the cold underbelly of the Group. Or maybe Draco banished him to solitude after igniting his testicles with fiery bird shit.
Wrapping up the Group to the far west resides the Andromeda galaxy and its seven babies so unrequited they named them in correlation: And I, And II, And II, and so on. At least the Milky Way didn't get a subset number for its proximity to a much cooler system. To wrap up the final two systems that are much cooler than ours is the Pegasus and Triangulum galaxies. A brief view through these complex universal systems shows irrefutably that anything near and far from our own systems are much cooler and given much more thought and class than anything we apply to ourselves. Sun = Sun. Planet = Earth. Moon = Moon. Solar system = Solar System. Galaxy = Milky Way. On some level, we have to know that other life has not come around not because they fear our power but because they fear what we may call them.
A Cluster of Clusters Near and Far
What was her name?
Finally, in the furthest reaches of our own universe, beyond our solar system through our galaxy and past the first cluster of galaxies and cluster of groups and into the chasm of the cluster of cluster of galaxies is our known universe named Virgo. In retrospect, at least at this stage in the simulation game of universal capitalism, we (as in the Local Group, Milky Way) are among the only formidably named values in this complex web of hydrogen and helium. Among our brethren are Ursa Major and Virgo W. Apart from these most important clusters and clusters of clusters are merely alpha-numeric markers so densely indentified that they await a time when the next unpublished scientist dies so they may inherit a name. And it is likely that within a thousand trillion stars in this universe that they will inherit a name smarter, cooler, and sexier than anything we have kept for ourselves.