The Crisis of Naming the Universe
J.A. Grier
892

The process of naming matters in a lot of scientific fields. New elements on the periodic table, new specimens in the human evolution, new geographic discoverings, new animals or plants, new parts of the body, new sicknesses, new mathematical numbers.. Is not new: Europe was colonized by greeks and romans and they gave names to places that sometimes doesnt seem to have any sense to us now (a.e. pyrinees mountains are “mountains on fire” (pyros=fire)). Ultima Thule itself, as far as i know, is just descriptive, like would have been “finisterrae”. America has the name of the person who discovered that was in fact a new continent; other places names come from fictional works, like California.. to not mention some names of some canadian tiny lakes.. There is any problem on it nowadays on any of them?

You could ask help to linguistics or historians, but what you mostly need is to lose the fear to name things or, if a name has any issue, just change it. Is easier to remember a name in chinese, in russian, in hindu or in english? because this will be the real problem in the future. So what you need is a working methodology that can be kept later for others with the hope that later, the others, will have mercy putting names and making them easy to remember as you do.

In a language, a word exists because people use it. And then, when has been incorporated to the language, a dictionary sees it and put the word on its list of words. Who would need to use a word for a martian channel that has not yet a name? the ones who study it. You need to put it a name? just put it, maybe just a descriptive name, maybe with latin or greek or whatever other origin, and, since then, that place will have already a name. Then the Academy will discuss it, accept it or not, change it if is required, but you would have known to distinguish what were you talking about, you would have given a “face” to that place and that will have done your job easier for you and for your readers. And, knowing that place better than anyone else, you will know how to call it much better than any public voting.

The problem is not how to create names (descriptions, gods, saints, historic guys, ..there are thousand of words in hundreds of idioms to combine..) but who has the right to put those names for all. So i think that the ones who most know a place can pick names on the basis of their needs, then the international academy discuss about those names or propose others, and let it be. is more important having names than not having them.

Some examples: “carbonmonoxide seas”, “north metane mountains” are more helpful maybe for your work than other names? “the snake canyon” maybe because of its form? “pluton heart” instead of “Tombaugh Regio” since anyone can identify a form of a heart but not everybody could know who was Tombaugh and why is related to that place? latin maybe instead of english?

So if you need to put a name, put it. Use it. make your work easier for you and for others. Use nicknames along with those plate numbers if needed. Just dont worry too much on this. At the end, when a name becomes a name, then is done. And no one worries why is called that way. Just try to be do it with perspective: the names of Pluto dont describe anything from Pluto the most of times, sometimes are just like the former number plates but with fancy words of people or books that are not related with Pluto at all. If name is not helpful then is not a good name. If medicine would have named like in Pluto the parts of the body would have be a nighmare to study medicine ( a.e. Mary Higgins Region instead of Intracostal region). Just my humble opinion.

sorry about my english grammar or vocabulary mistakes. im not used to write in english. not my native language and not on my daily basis use. Sorry for the long extension also. came here by accident. im not related at all with the astronomy.