Print 42 comment(s) - last by maugrimtr.. on Jul 12 at 4:44 AM

  (Source: CBS)
Two newly discovered moons will instead be named Styx and Kerberos

"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

The SETI (Search of Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute may wish to invoke that famous Spockism in its defense, as it faces the wrath of Khan... err Trekkies (the nickname for fans of the Star Trek movie, television, book, and comic franchise).

I. SETI Denies Fan Voting to Name New Pluto Moon "Vulcan"

After J.J. Abrams controversially rewrote the Star Trek universe, launching an alternate timeline in which Spock's homeworld "Vulcan" was blown up, William Shatner led a campaign to rename one of the two moons of Pluto "Vulcan".  The SETI Project, which discovered the new moons, had offered an online contest to decide the name of the new moons.

Also endorsed by the actor who played Spock, Leonard Nimoy, the campaign to name one of the moons "Vulcan" after the Roman god of fire and smithery (Greek: Hephaestus), managed to drive the name up to the top of the voting.

But ultimately The SETI Institute refused to name the moon Vulcan.  It pointed out that Vulcan had little to do with the God of the underworld (Greek: Hades; Roman: Pluto) unlike the names it selected.  

The name "Vulcan" was rejected for more underworldly names. [Image Source: SETI]

And it points out that Vulcan was already used as the name for a hypothetical planet that was once thought to exist between the Sun and Mercury, so the name might be confusing.  There's an ongoing scientific debate over whether so-called intra-Mercurial planetoids or "vulcanoids" -- including Vulcan -- exist.

The SETI Institute tells Trekkies:

The (International Astronomical Union) gave serious consideration to this name, which happens to be shared by the Roman god of volcanoes.  However, because that name has already been used in astronomy, and because the Roman god is not closely associated with Pluto, this proposal was rejected.

The names of the new moons leave 4 out of the 5 known moons of Pluto with underworld-related names.  One of the new moons is named "Styx" after the river to the underworld.  Another is named "Kerberos" (Greek: Cerberus) after the multi-headed dog that inhabited the underworld.  Two other moons are named after Nix (the anglization of "Nyx"), the godess of the night (who resided in the underworld), and her child Charon (Roman: Chairon) whom she bore from her brother/lover Erebus, the god of darkness.   Charon served as boatman to the underworld, ferrying the souls of the dead to Pluto.

Vulcan destroy
Vulcan was destroyed in the new Star Trek reboot. [Image Source: Bad Robot] 

The seemingly odd moon out is Hydra, which was named after the serpent like monster which was slain by Hercules (Heracles).  The Hydra, a child of a Gorgon (snake-woman) inhabited a cave and had relatively little to do with underworld.

Nix and Hydra were named back in 2006 after their discovery by the Hubble space telescope.

II. Will Shatner is Mad; Styx is Thrilled

William Shatner echoed the sentiments of many Trekkies, voicing frustration and the naming rejection.  He posts on Twitter:

Other fans voiced similar sentiments:

However, some praised SETI for maintaining the historical context of Vulcan and the underworldly naming of Pluto.  The quote from Mr. Shatner refers to a comment by Mark Showalter of SETI, who said in a comment to the Associated Press, "We might have craters called Sulu and Spock and Kirk and McCoy and so on."

Will Shatner
Will Shatner is mad about the rejection.

The International Astronomy Union's (IAU; the organization that governs space naming) rules are relatively rigid regarding the naming of planets, planetoids, moons, and mountains on planets.  However, they are relatively lax to naming craters -- one crater on Pluto has already been named "Mickey" after the famous character from The Disney Comp. (DIS).

The controversy over the moon naming is the latest for Pluto, which recently lost its planet status (though some states are fighting to restore that distinction).  Pluto is now referred to as a "planetoid" or "plutoid", depending on who you ask.  The ninth (or tenth?) planet -- the recently discovered "Xena" -- is larger than Pluto.

Styx is thrilled though. [Image Source: Jay West]

One group who is pleased with the new names is the 80s "hair rock" band Styx.  Tommy Shaw, guitarist and songwriter for the band, enthused about this profit-making opportunity to UltimateClassicRock, remarking, "Styx is proud to accept this new heavenly chart position as we add orbiting Pluto to our ever expanding touring map.  As always we have our fans to thank for it and I predict a new Styx T-shirt in the making!"

Sources: SETI, NASA, William Shatner on Twitter, UltimateClassicRock

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By Reclaimer77 on 7/4/13, Rating: 0
RE: Meah.
By althaz on 7/4/2013 2:57:14 AM , Rating: 2
These are not the words of a Trekkie, Abrams.

That's probably why the latest movie was met with such widespread acclaim.

Star Trek is a pretty niche thing (this is not a bad thing, nessecarily) and JJ Abrams was hired to take it mainstream, which he did pretty successfully by any reasonable measure.


RE: Meah.
By DennisB on 7/4/2013 6:46:55 AM , Rating: 5
Paid propaganda does't count.
And this review doesn't include physic-nonsense like falling from moon orbit, mismatched plot holes (badly connected; disappeared saboteur after one job) and more. The movie is a purely put together kid's work of action scenes and some (not reasonable) story to get them connected. You gotta be an elementary schooler to be amazed.

RE: Meah.
By mmatis on 7/4/2013 8:54:37 AM , Rating: 3
So what you're saying is that it's aimed at today's typical moviegoer?

RE: Meah.
By GulWestfale on 7/4/2013 9:41:46 AM , Rating: 3
i am a "real" trekkie, and i hated the movie. i wrote what i think is an honest review on my blog:

RE: Meah.
By dgingerich on 7/4/2013 12:48:26 PM , Rating: 2
While I agree for the most part on your review, I have additional problems, as a former Physics student, and yet, I still consider both movies to be a lot of fun. I liked them both. They aren't of the caliber of other ST episodes, but they are good for just suspending your disbelief and enjoying the show. Well, except for the immensely stupid wall walking. I just couldn't suspend my disbelief enough to accept that. That's just the amateur physicist in me.

RE: Meah.
By WinstonSmith on 7/4/2013 9:40:03 AM , Rating: 2
"JJ Abrams was hired to take it mainstream"

Which translates to "dumb it down into a CGI action flick for your average American idiot who thinks Fast and Furious 6 is the best film of the year."

"I didn't like this film nearly as much as the first. It was formulated to provide continuous action and any of the character interaction that makes ST special was just incidental during heavy action where it garnered no laughs at all in the theater I was in. "Star Trek Into Darkness" was designed to appeal to a mass audience. From my perspective, that was a huge mistake. The film was dumbed down for mass audiences that need things blowing up every second to maintain their attention span.

I really liked the first film because it did a great job at being a classic Star Trek reboot, bringing back the characters, their quirks, and their interrelationships which was a significant and important part of the original series.

This is a Star Trek that apparently needs explosions every ten minutes to keep the audience interested, most of whom are not Trekkers. Hot blonds and Kirk having threesomes and endless "booms, bangs, and pows!" is the equation for getting teen males in the seats and having the ridiculous love story between "NuSpock" and "NuUhura" gets the teen girls in the seats. Having Kirk act like a whiny emo kid keeps all of them in the seats because now they can identify with him. "Parents suck! LOL!"

This is a predictable formula sci-fi film with predictable formula dialog utilizing characters and even plot lines that someone else created mixed in with some great special effects. This is 180 degrees from what Roddenberry created: daring ideas, imaginative concepts and innovative characters and dialog with lackluster special effects, the best that they could do. CGI has allowed bubblegum where once intelligent plots were required."

RE: Meah.
By maugrimtr on 7/4/2013 11:14:38 AM , Rating: 4
Put simply, the current Star Trek movie is Transformers with a slightly better plot.

If you don't believe me, remember that Khan transports directly from Earth to the Klingon homeworld but everyone else needs a ship for some reason. This is a Universe where all distances can be covered in mere seconds with a warp drive, where the phasers were stolen from Star Wars, where the plot has more holes than a sieve, and where Spock is clearly insane from the illogical stuff the writers dumped into the move. It's pure spectacle with little substance.

The first movie was decent enough because, I think, because Abrams had no choice but to dish out origin stories for everyone. It required good acting and storytelling. The second movie could dispense with both.

The third movie? I won't be paying again for such rubbish.

RE: Meah.
By DT_Reader on 7/5/2013 2:21:10 PM , Rating: 2
This is a Universe... where the phasers were stolen from Star Wars
Seeing as the Star Trek phasers pre-date Star Wars blasters by 10 years, I don't see how that's possible.

RE: Meah.
By maugrimtr on 7/12/2013 4:44:27 AM , Rating: 2
Abrams swapped them. In Star Trek, Federation ships have a small number of phasers that need to be charged and which are then emitted in a long duration beam. The new movies replaced these with dozens of short duration beams (i.e. blasters) which is exactly what you see in a Star Wars movie.

I've been watching Star Wars since the 80s as a kid - when you see the Enterprise shooting lots of blasters, you immediately start wondering where Dark Vader is.

RE: Meah.
By dgingerich on 7/4/2013 12:31:47 PM , Rating: 2
Which translates to "dumb it down into a CGI action flick for your average American idiot who thinks Fast and Furious 6 is the best film of the year."

Oh, I praise you, WinstonSmith. You sure know what's up.

I do miss the moral and philosophical sides to Star Trek that brought me to love ST:TNG so much. They tried to bring it back with Enterprise, but missed the mark. Now, the current movies are nothing but action movies for the masses. It's fun, but it's just not the same.

Well, at least many of the animes coming over lately have that aspect. It's kind of sad to be an anime fan at 41, but I really like philosophical and social commentary type stories, and they just aren't anywhere else in the media anymore. Even sci-fi books lack that these days.

RE: Meah.
By Reclaimer77 on 7/4/2013 11:37:36 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think something that has spanned five decades, has influenced art and science and pop culture, and sparked the imagination of and inspired billions could be called a "niche".

Yes JJ Abrams movies have been commercial successes no doubt. But I'm sorry, I have to believe someone with imagination and creativity and passion for the franchise could have told good stories and stayed true to the tenants of Star Trek while also making a commercial success.

Sadly, Josh Whedon was too busy :)

To be honest when I made that post last night (or was it this morning?) over a couple of cocktails I just assumed I would be -1'd and flamed down for being an "old hater stuck in the past" or something. Instead I'm met with similarly minded intelligent replies by others who 'get it' and share a passion for good science fiction.

Happy 4'th you guys, and keep on 'trekkin!

RE: Meah.
By Lord 666 on 7/4/2013 1:27:04 PM , Rating: 2
The positive feedback is because the Trekkies and other sci-fi fans are on the Internet while the mainstream is out 'grillin' and 'drinkin'

RE: Meah.
By Chaser on 7/5/2013 10:36:58 AM , Rating: 2
As the late and great Roger Ebert so eloquently put:

I think it is time for "Star Trek" to make a mighty leap forward another 1,000 years into the future, to a time when starships do not look like rides in a 1970s amusement arcade, when aliens do not look like humans with funny foreheads, and when wonder, astonishment and literacy are permitted back into the series. Star Trek was kind of terrific once, but now it is a copy of a copy of a copy.

With the entire Trek universe available to him the best that can be done is another Kahn story? OK. Add the word copy again.

From a disenfranchised Trekkie that doesn't buy movie tickets to investor return Trek junk. :(

RE: Meah.
By drlumen on 7/4/2013 3:27:25 PM , Rating: 2
I agree that the use of Vulcan for this is not the best use of the name but not because of the lousy Abrams remakes.

I think they should reserve the names for more relevant and better uses. With all the planets being discovered in the universe, why relegate Vulcan to a very small, fairly insignificant moon of Pluto? As a trekker I would like to see ST recognized but I think they could find a better example.

Much like Enterprise for the name of a shuttle. Yes, it was cool to get it named Enterprise but the name would have been better served to be on one of the actual working shuttles and not a limited use, testing prototype.

Personally, I don't like the Abrams remakes. What is the deal with him and alternate realities?! Like Lost didn't end badly enough...

With the Abrams remakes Roddenberry has rolled over in his grave yet again. Rick Berman was the first to dishonor the franchise and Roddenberry's vision. Now, Abrams is piling on. ugh!

RE: Meah.
By Donkey2008 on 7/4/2013 4:02:54 PM , Rating: 3
At least Abrams tries. Enjoy your Betamax copies of Wrath of Khan and the ridiculously cornball movie with the Whale.

RE: Meah.
By plutosavior on 7/4/2013 11:37:17 PM , Rating: 2
That movie with the whales is one of the most popular Star Trek movies of all time. My friend and I watch it every New Year's Day because it illustrates the possibility of a better future.

RE: Meah.
By drlumen on 7/5/2013 3:02:28 AM , Rating: 2
Tried to crowbar in as much fluff, cotton candy character conflicts and CGI action as he could get away with!

If he had REALLY wanted to try he would not have polluted the Trek franchise and created a completely new franchise but, oh no, that was too hard! But he felt the need to muck with characters and universe that were 50(?) years in development. Yes, he tried. He tried too hard and in the wrong places!

All in all your opinion really doesn't matter as you are not a Trek fan. If you were you would not have said that about The Voyage Home.

RE: Meah.
By Reclaimer77 on 7/5/2013 10:02:15 AM , Rating: 2
He's just trolling. I wouldn't even bother. Even I adore Voyage Home, it wasn't about saving the whales, but ourselves. But that's probably "too philosophical" for the Abrams crowd.

PS. Wrath of Khan looks amazing on BluRay. Not sure about Beta ax lol

RE: Meah.
By ClownPuncher on 7/5/2013 11:59:01 AM , Rating: 2
I actually have the Betamax for Wrath. I don't have a device to play it with, but...

RE: Meah.
By drlumen on 7/5/2013 4:46:23 PM , Rating: 2

Can you imagine Abrams remaking 2001:A Space Odyssey? I can see the plot: "Hal goes on a killing spree and tries to destroy the Earth and the space child with the AE-35."

RE: Meah.
By Chaser on 7/5/2013 10:42:46 AM , Rating: 2
Nice try.

RE: Meah.
By ClownPuncher on 7/5/2013 11:57:39 AM , Rating: 2
Wrath of Khan is considered one of the best science fiction movies. I don't see why the desire to see science fiction (instead of Bay style action) is something to be derided.

Why are you blaming SETI???
By maugrimtr on 7/4/2013 10:06:00 AM , Rating: 4
It could just be me, but I could swear there was an international committee (the International Astronomical Union or IAU) in charge of naming celestial bodies.

So blaming SETI is a bit...well...dumb? They took a poll, yes, a poll. The IAU then agreed to go along but objected to the most popular option.

Somebody learn to read...or google...or something...

RE: Why are you blaming SETI???
By drlumen on 7/4/2013 3:33:09 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure but I think the discovery can name the object they found but the IAU has to approve it to resolve possible conflicts.

RE: Why are you blaming SETI???
By plutosavior on 7/4/2013 6:59:55 PM , Rating: 3
The IAU doesn't have to approve something for it to be accepted. How about we all ignore the IAU?

RE: Why are you blaming SETI???
By Solandri on 7/4/2013 7:13:21 PM , Rating: 4
Well yeah, you can ignore the IAU. But if you do, pretty much every professional astronomer and most amateurs will ignore you. That's what those "name a star" companies do - they give stars names without IAU approval. So everyone ignores them. You're basically paying them to print the name you want in a book they publish.

Although the IAU has the final say on names, the discoverer gets to suggest a name. So if SETI discovered the moons, then they'd have the privilege of suggesting a name. They decided to hold a contest to pick a name.

The IAU is pretty flexible about things like asteroids (ASCII, Monty Python, two close-flying asteroids named Tomhanks and Megryan). But planet and moon names generally have to follow a theme based on roman names for greek mythology (except Uranus, whose moons are named after literary characters - mostly from Shakespeare). Pluto being god of the underworld, the moon names would be expected to be related.

"Vulcan" most likely wouldn't have been approved for this reason. SETI realized that and so didn't even bother submitting it. OTOH, find a moon around Venus and Vulcan is virtually guaranteed to win (Vulcan was Venus' husband).

RE: Why are you blaming SETI???
By plutosavior on 7/4/2013 11:33:37 PM , Rating: 2
No, every professional and amateur astronomer will not ignore you if you ignore the IAU. Their controversial 2006 demotion of Pluto is still rejected by many professional astronomers, including the Principal Investigator of NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto, Dr. Alan Stern. Many of the hundreds of professional astronomers who signed Stern's petition have distanced themselves from the IAU and ignore the organization. There are other astronomy groups such as the American Astronomical Society, the European Geophysical Union, the American Geophysical Union, etc. The IAU has lost a lot of credibility over the last few years in the way it has handled the Pluto debacle, including its refusal to reopen the discussion after being asked to do so in 2009 by a group of professional astronomers. These astronomers may yet form a new planetary science organization. Look to new, crowdfunding groups such as Uwingu, which is creating a "baby book" of names for exoplanets. Times are changing, and the IAU is no longer the only game in town astronomically.

RE: Why are you blaming SETI???
By Stuka on 7/7/2013 12:17:09 PM , Rating: 4
I remember when scientists used science and not emotion when making determinations. No one cares that a few hold outs grew up watching Pluto cartoons and are comfortable with a 9 planet solar system because they were indoctrinated with it at 6 years of age.

Science is about facts. If you want to be romantic about something read a Danielle Steel book.

By chromal on 7/4/2013 11:46:16 AM , Rating: 2
I'm sorry, but any planet that is named Vulcan had better have a higher average surface temperature (and lots more desert) than Earth. The icy moon of a Oort Cloud frozen planetoid is not very high up on this list.

By dgingerich on 7/4/2013 12:51:11 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with you there.

By plutosavior on 7/4/2013 11:35:16 PM , Rating: 2
Pluto is not an Oort Cloud Object nor a planetoid. It is a small planet on the edge of the Kuiper Belt. I do agree that Vulcan is better suited for a hot, dry planet.

By Ammohunt on 7/4/2013 10:23:46 AM , Rating: 3
Why did they hold a contest if they were going to choose the names in the end?

For the record the J.J. Abrams version of Star Trek is not Star Trek its a decent Sci-Fi movie with shallow characters that most trekkies want to project Gene Roddenberry's decades of character development on to. Its obvious the writers arn't Star Trek fans.

Get your Star Trek straight.
By cyberguyz on 7/4/2013 7:54:29 AM , Rating: 2
The SETI (Search of Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute may wish to invoke that famous Spockism in its defense, as it faces the wrath of Kahn... err Trekkies (the nickname for fans of the Star Trek movie, television, book, and comic franchise).

um.... it's KHAN! Jeez!

+1 front page picture
By drewsup on 7/4/2013 8:38:50 AM , Rating: 2
+1 for admins Big Bang picture on front page, made me chuckle before even reading article!

By blackseed on 7/4/2013 10:08:15 AM , Rating: 2
What happens when we do really find Vulcan?

By NesuD on 7/4/2013 3:29:11 PM , Rating: 2
the 80s "hair rock" band Styx

Yeah Jason you might want to actually look into Styx's history. Your description is about 1 decade and and a case of hairspray wide of the mark.

Blame the IAU, not SETI
By plutosavior on 7/4/2013 6:56:48 PM , Rating: 2
Don't blame SETI; they did everything they could to democratize this process and include as many voices as possible. SETI did recommend the name Vulcan; it's the IAU that rejected it. This is the same organization that tried to impose its controversial demotion of Pluto on the world, even though only four percent of its members took part in that vote and hundreds of other professional astronomers formally opposed that decision. The IAU seems more concerned about its "authority" than about real science and motivating the public to be involved in astronomy. The good news is, no one has to accept any IAU decision. They have no enforcement power, and if enough people reject their rulings, they will essentially become irrelevant.

Makes sense...
By killerroach on 7/4/2013 9:27:13 PM , Rating: 2
...ignore the poll you set up and name the moon Styx instead.

Just remember that the poll's a grand illusion, 'cause deep inside they're all the same...

By Wererat on 7/5/2013 12:59:25 AM , Rating: 2

Forget about movies; simply put, Vulcan (Hefaestus) isn't well suited nomenclature-wise to hang around Pluto. Let's name our first Mars space station "Vulcan" instead.

Still cringing
By bug77 on 7/5/2013 8:56:34 AM , Rating: 2
"Kerebus" followed by "Cerebus"? Seriously?

"The Space Elevator will be built about 50 years after everyone stops laughing" -- Sir Arthur C. Clarke
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