Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?

IAU To Uwingu: You Can't Name That Martian Crater Either 125

RocketAcademy writes "The International Astronomical Union has thrown a tantrum over a plan to crowdsource names for craters on Mars. The IAU gives official scientific names to craters, but it has only bothered with craters that have 'scientific significance.' The science-funding platform Uwingu has launched a campaign to come up with popular names for the remaining craters. For as little as $5, a member of the public can name one of the craters on Uwingu's map, with the proceeds going to fund space science and education. This caused the IAU to issue a statement condemning such crowdsourcing efforts. The IAU pointed out that it did allow the public to vote on names for two of Pluto's moons, in the past. In that case, however, the IAU rejected the winning name (Vulcan)." Last year, the IAU got into a spat with Uwingu over naming exoplanets. Sounds like the old name a star scam, on Mars.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

IAU To Uwingu: You Can't Name That Martian Crater Either

Comments Filter:
  • and someone to take their money willingly.

    • You'd be surprised how hard some institutions make it to give them money these days, though.

      "Your money for our product? Not without an elaborate contract that serves no real purpose"

    • The Quote of the Day below is currently:

      When it is incorrect, it is, at least *authoritatively* incorrect. -- Hitchiker's Guide To The Galaxy

    • and someone to take their money willingly.

      True indeed... though it's kind of funny that all this ink and hot air is being wasted over "naming" rights.

      Hell, if "naming" something were permanent and enforceable, we'd all still be living on Terra right now instead of Earth... and outside of SciFi novels, well, that ain't happening.

      Tomorrow morning I could hereby re-name North America "Peanut Butter Sandwich", and if I could convince enough of my fellow inhabitants to do the same, we'd be living in USPBS. Instead, we live on a continent named by some o

    • by mikael ( 484 )

      I'm sure for a $500,000,000 dollar donation, they'll launch a custom built rocket with warhead, and let you choose where to place the crater as well as name it.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    That's way better than a crater.
  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @10:18AM (#46463483)

    You want the privilege of naming? No problem. But you have to get there first. Put up or shut up, bitch.

    • but I registered a crap domain name, and you can pay in bitcoins, so who says I don't have the internationally-recognised authority to name chunks of planets?!!!!!

      Besides, how will I get my shitty website bought up by Amazon or Facebook and become a multi-billionaire if the grown-ups won't let me do this. Its just not fair.

    • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

      You can go there, live there, call it what you want.... I will still rename it if I feel like calling it something else.

      Screw them both. I name myself the authority of names, now I am going to make up words for people to use. Use them or don't, but neither you, nor the IAU can stop me.

      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        true, but when you try to sell then, the international body in charge of there official names have every right to point out to the people that you sell them to they aren't recognized by anyone; which is all that's going on.

        • by rioki ( 1328185 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @11:13AM (#46464179) Homepage

          So? Who gave the IAU the authority? What legal power do they have? I can create my own list of names for planetary bodies. If I get most people to use my list instead of the IAU's, what id going to happen? Nothing.

          Btw, I am currently accepting bids for this solar systems' planets. Get them while they are cheap.

          • They don't have any "legal power", they're just the group that writes the catalogues of astronomical objects, most of which are un-named. The only claim they have over this company is that they're the guys whose catalogues astronomers actually write and subsequently use.

          • You're selling the planet's names? That's a small inventory you have.

            I am accepting bids for all the asteroids in orbit beyond the fourth planet. I'm still debating whether to charge based on mass, volume, or surface area.

    • Agreed. First person to touch the crater gets naming rights. I think we can all agree on that.

      • The IAU doesn't agree with that. They renamed many of the craters originally named on Apollo, for no other reason is that they are the IAU and couldn't stand that someone else was actually doing something, rather than talking about it.

    • by Njovich ( 553857 )

      Don't be silly, the Mayan gods that went there first have been dead for over a year.

    • Future generations will explore the Boo Boo crater :)))
  • The rancorous debate over what to name celestial bodies strikes me of angelology. Who's going to know what they were named a thousand years from now, and how many times will those names be changed by people yet to be born? I mean, who cares? Let them each keep a different and divergent list of named craters, call them "List A" and "List B", and we'll revisit in 2,000 years and see which names stuck, and whom smelt of elderberries.
    • by Thanshin ( 1188877 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @10:58AM (#46463959)

      Who's going to know what they were named a thousand years from now, and how many times will those names be changed by people yet to be born

      Outside of America it's pretty common to live in places named thousands of years ago.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hendrips ( 2722525 )

        Even in the U.S. it is possible to find place names (nearly) that old. American Indian names that are still in use are not hard to find, although the pronunciation tends to be corrupted.

      • by rioki ( 1328185 )

        You mean a place like Tsaritsyn... um no Stalingrad... um no Volgograd... or Constantinople... um no Istanbul. Yes Names of places never change, ever.

        • He said "pretty common," not "always the case." Don't be dense.

        • by Megol ( 3135005 )

          You mean a place like Tsaritsyn... um no Stalingrad... um no Volgograd... or Constantinople... um no Istanbul. Yes Names of places never change, ever.

          Welcome to trolling recognizing 101, today we will use the above statement as an example of a straw man argument.

          Note that the original post didn't claim places _never_ changes names, just that "Outside of America it's pretty common to live in places named thousands of years ago.".

          The statement in the original post is demonstrably true in a scientific way (verified by written texts and other ways) while the straw man above is, simply, irrelevant.

        • by dave420 ( 699308 )
          You honestly typed that response thinking it wouldn't make you look like an idiot? Wow. Yes, there are plenty of places in Europe which have had the same name for thousands of years, some with more corruption than others. Just because you can think of some examples of cities which have had their names changed you think that invalidates the claim? Did you drink bleach for breakfast?
        • or Constantinople... um no Istanbul.

          Hey, that's nobody's business but the Turks...

      • Because America was an unpopulated wilderness 500 years ago?

        Perhaps you meant something other than the OP said: New groups of people make new names for places that supersede what the previous occupants used.

    • That's what's actually happening. Contrary to TFS the IAU's comments are little more than a reminder that Uwingu's list isn't going to be used by astronomers.

  • Call it whatever you want. If it sticks, it's official. Why should they get the only right to name something?
    • by ravenscar ( 1662985 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @11:07AM (#46464087)

      Exactly. The IAU might be able to create the name by which scientists refer to the craters (so that they have the same name in all languages). In real life, the craters will be called whatever people decide to call them popularly. It's like the bellis perennis. You might hear scientists refer to it that way. To the rest of the English speaking world it's a daisy.

      • Unfortunately the objects Uwingu is offering names for are ones that will never be referred to popularly, and subsequently the naming rights people are paying for have no effect.

  • by sinequonon ( 669533 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @10:24AM (#46463575)
    The reason why the IAU is the body that gets to name celestial objects is international recognition. If every country used its own naming scheme, pretty soon the scientific communication would become a complete muddle.
    • Exactly. I have no idea who this Uwingu is, and don't fucking care. They have no international recognition that I'm aware of, and thus have no particular right to name anything.

      If they're so keen on names, let them name their own underpants.

    • I don't particularly care about IAU's naming - but they are the legitimate authority here, if such a thing exists.

      What's funny, though, is that the submitter bizarrely thinks everyone is somehow going to come down on the side of some website (?) no ones ever heard of. Apparently the term "crowd sourcing" is supposed to magically sway us?

      • The fact that the IAU both refuses to name the craters, and let anyone else do so, seems rather...selfish? Petty? These craters must remain nameless because they say so?

        • by dave420 ( 699308 )
          Not really - humanity needs a directory of things of interest. If we suddenly had names for millions of things of absolutely no interest to anyone other than the person who named them, that clearly blows the signal-to-noise ratio out of the water, rendering the entire endeavour pointless. There is no benefit to naming craters on Mars which lack interest, so the people who maintain the names of such things are quite obviously going to step in and say "no".
        • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @12:50PM (#46465303)

          They can't "refuse to let anyone else do so", that's not how it works. All they can do is point out that these names aren't any more authoritative than any name you could give to the object yourself, or the nicknames NASA engineers give to craters, and as far as astronomers are concerned they're just catalogue numbers because everyone knows they're referring to the same thing.

  • If you don't want to select your crater yourself, just pick your price level and we'll have a Mars scientist choose a crater for you!

    Money for nothing and craters for free

  • I imagine that using buzzwords like "crowdsourced" means we're not supposed to spot that this is just a way of fleecing people of money for a totally worthless certificate.

    Maybe the cause is good. But this method of fundraising is just sleazy.

    • Maybe the cause is good. But this method of parting fools from their money is just sleazy.

      FTFY. "Fundraising" implies there's actually something legitimate to raise funds for, like beating cancer, or kids.

      • by zaxus ( 105404 )

        FTFY. "Fundraising" implies there's actually something legitimate to raise funds for, like beating cancer, or kids.

        I didn't know beating kids was a worthwhile fundraiser....just saying....

      • You didn't fix anything... it because it already said that in the prior sentence. You know what "fleece" means as a verb [], right?

  • Why do they get to decide, other than by authority by assertion?

    • by gsslay ( 807818 )

      Well just like the star naming scam, no-one "gets to decide" and anyone can name anything they like.

      I could rename the craters of Mars after my relatives if I wanted to. Yes, even the ones that already have names. No-one, however, is likely to pay my naming the slightest bit of attention, because I have neither authority nor importance. Just like UWingo.

      The International Astronomical Union, on the otherhand, have a fair degree of recognition. Feel free to ignore them, but you'll find that most people

      • I've ignored them since the sleazy way they demoted Pluto from planetness. If they had done it properly I wouldn't be so rabid about it, but they had to manufacture the result.

        Fuck them and the asteroid they rode in on.

        • Hang on, you actually think that the IAC's decision to come up with a definition for "planet" was an elaborate excuse to make Pluto an un-planet? That's really, really precious.

    • It's their set of standards and references, that's why. If you want to have your own body of standards in astronomy, or chemistry, or whatever, there's nothing stopping you from making one up and trying to convince people to use it. Just don't expect anyone to actually pay attention to it.

  • buy the IAU some Wheaties which haven't been pissed in.

    Seriously, the IAU is just a private organization with self-appointed powers. Their "official naming rights" are no more official than your's or mine, although their names are more likely to get used.
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Like anything official, it's official because it's recognized. In this case recognized by everyone in the scientific field, academia and governments.

      Its like saying the Olympics aren't official becasue you can buy your own trophy.

      This is a case of the IAU alerting potential victims that the name won't be recognized, and that UWingo should be telling people it will be.

      As long as UWingo makes that clear, the IAU won't really care.

  • Where does the IAU get off with this insistence that it has the power to name everything in space, from craters to the smallest boulders. Pompous aholes.

    • They're astronomers. They get to decide what astronomers call things. You're welcome to call the moon John if you want, the IAU's not going to give a crap.

  • It's amazing that the IAU seems to think that they have the rights to name anything at all. Frankly they have no authority other than it's another drummed up French based "authority" created when Europeans thought they could create such things. Yes, they ponder such things as the definition of a "planet" but still it's not CERN and is only recognized by scientists and astronomers as a de-facto authority, that's all. So really they have no claim to naming things no more than anybody else.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      They can name things again once Pluto is recognized as a planet and not a dwarf planet, midget planet, size-challenged planet, leprechaun or whatever other silly thing they called it.
    • Their authority comes from the fact that working astronomers respect and pay attention to its decisions (as well they might; the same working astronomers constitute its membership). That's the only kind of authority that matters, isn't it? Being a body that does things right often enough that people favour your standards? It works for the IUPAC and naming elements.

    • The french have a tradition of making themselves the official arbiters of things they don't actually do anything. See also FAI - Federation Aeronautique Internationale, the guys who required the Neil Armstrong to get an FAI Sporting License in order for them to recognize that the Moon Landings took place "officially"

    • The IAU list has authority because it is the version that actual astronomers and scientists use. Astronomers need SOMEONE to write a catalogue of names down for them so they all know what they're talking about- if not IAU, then who? Would it make you happier if they were 'murica based? Is it just that they are histroically based in France that upsets you?

      IAU are simply doing a service to remind people that Uwingu (not to mention "name a star" companies) do not have the right to change the names in the IAU c

      • Good Point but they have no more right to naming something than anybody else. Just because scientists and astronomers say "we agree" doesn't make it correct. Think about this, Mt. Everest was named after a surveyor however for thousands of years it was called Chomolungma in Tibet and Sagaramantha in Nepal. It's only called Mt. Everest because the British Government wanted it called that, does that make it right? No and nor does it make what the IAU names something to be the de-facto standard name of som

  • Of course Uwingu can name craters. So can you or I (though the challenge there lies in getting anyone else to use those names). The IAU has no more legal authority to say "you can't call the planet Pluto's newly discovered moon Vulcan", for example, than your local Kiwanis club does. They can only offer guidance that their "industry" tends to take seriously, and the rest of us can completely disregard if we so choose.

    So whether or not a bunch of pissy astronomers decide to use Uwingu's names rather tha
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @10:48AM (#46463847) Journal
    You can name whatever you like whatever you want. No muss, no fuss, no red tape, no nothing.

    Achieving a name recognized by somebody other than you is a somewhat more complex problem, usually requiring a certain amount of give-and-take in terms of "I'll accept your stupid idea if you endure mine" type arrangements.

    For all the histrionics about it, Nobody was somehow magically anointed the Super Name Czar by some magically authoritative process. Some organizations have their shit together, and any names in a given domain not endorsed by them are pretty much just private nicknames, some don't; but that's it.
  • Anyone found anything indicating what percent they will be donating to a tax exempt space organization?
    They say they want to get $10 million to that fund.
    The cost of a hole in Mars goes for $5 to $5000. They also have another naming purchase plan for exoplanets where it is $4.99 for each person attempting to name it and then $0.99 for each vote for that name, and 1000 votes needed.
  • "Tantrum"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @11:00AM (#46463977)

    Even by the dry standards of academic discourse this is pretty meek:

    Recently initiatives that capitalise on the public’s interest in space and astronomy have proliferated, some putting a price tag on naming space objects and their features, such as Mars craters. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) would like to emphasise that such initiatives go against the spirit of free and equal access to space, as well as against internationally recognised standards. Hence no purchased names can ever be used on official maps and globes. The IAU encourages the public to become involved in the naming process of space objects and their features by following the officially recognised (and free) methods.

  • Otherwise it is just a waste of money. Learned that the hard way ........

  • People still keep paying to "register a star" for loved ones, even in full knowledge that the act has no official status, even for the plebeian billions of stars on astro patrol photographs. So why not set up an official, central registry that would auction off naming rights on stars, minor asteroids, minor KBOs, exoplanets, and extraterrestrial mountains and craters. The proceeds would become grants for astronomy and space science. It would be your state's vanity plate registry writ cosmically large.

    Let th

Genius is ten percent inspiration and fifty percent capital gains.