1294: Telescope Names

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Telescope Names
The Thirty Meter Telescope will be renamed The Flesh-Searing Eye on the Volcano.
Title text: The Thirty Meter Telescope will be renamed The Flesh-Searing Eye on the Volcano.


The Very Large Telescope is an existing telescope, while the (European) Extremely Large Telescope was in an advanced planning stage at the time of the comic's release. The Overwhelmingly Large Telescope was another proposed telescope that, as the comic mentions, was cancelled. The comic pokes fun at the generic nature of the names of the telescopes by proposing more generic but increasingly ridiculous names for future telescopes.

The title text talks about the Thirty Meter Telescope, which is about to begin construction on Mauna Kea (a dormant volcano) in Hawaii, and seems to compare it to the Eye of Sauron. It is expected to be the most advanced and powerful optical telescope on Earth when completed.


[A list of telescope names is given, with a series of checkboxes at right.]
The Very Large Telescope
The Extremely Large Telescope
The Overwhelmingly Large Telescope ☑ (Canceled)
The Oppressively Colossal Telescope
The Mind-numbingly Vast Telescope
The Despair Telescope
The Cataclysmic Telescope
The Telescope of Devastation
The Nightmare Scope
The Infinite Telescope
The Final Telescope

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Historically, one of the first times the issue was raised on the internet was this Slashdot article, where the name BFT was first proposed in 2000. Did Randall know it? ‎ (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

The "Final Telescope" aka "James Webb Space Telescope". 11:01, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

How could he leave off the Giant Magellan Telescope? Matchups (talk) 14:13, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

Does anyone think the latter names are a nod to Doctor Who? The Nightmare Child, the Plains of Devastation, etc. 17:48, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

The infinite is the size of the univers. Still there is a final after that ;-) Kynde (talk) 19:28, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

Just a note concerning the cancelled 'Overwhelmingly Large Telescope' (=OWL): Today OWL means „Once Was Large“ because it is replaced by the ELT (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Similar topic

I remember a short piece in SCIAM many years ago, where a well known physicist ironicly discussed the wish/planning/building of ever bigger colliders. Among the biggest of them, the "final collider" was described as having a diameter about the dimension of galaxy clusters. 22:28, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

The "Infinite" and "Final Telescopes" may be a poke at the Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis crossover events in the DC Comics... --Koveras (talk) 10:43, 9 December 2013 (UTC)

The Final Telescope is a reference to Asimov's "The Final Question", which literally describes the last question answered in the lifetime of the universe. Nitpicking (talk) 21:39, 22 April 2023 (UTC)

Sounds more like a reference to the Glam Rock band "Europe", to me. (i.e., I disagree with how definite you seem to be.) 23:14, 22 April 2023 (UTC)
You have to consider how big a science fiction nerd Randall is (nearly as big as me). Nitpicking (talk) 01:01, 23 April 2023 (UTC)
It's still tenuous. There are loads of "The Final <something>"s. And, in TFQ, it isn't even the final question (the final remaining question, perhaps) as it has been asked before, many times. What's more important is the final answer (or the first answer that isn't non-commital, or maybe it's the first answer in the time beyond), and surely a reference to that would be more nerd-worthy than what we have.
I think Asimov is just too subtle, it could have come from anywhere and the intention to use Asimov, specifically, could have been flagged somehow.
Alternate nerd references could have been "The Second Greatest Telescope" (shades of Deep Thought, already thinking ahead to its successor) or similar. And we don't see "antepenultimate" used often enough, either (or on through "propreantepenultimate"), so a missed trick there too. But I don't fully know Randall's mind, just have an impression that even when he's Muggle-indecipherable, he's rarely quite so shy about acknowledging his inspiration, and very rarely quite so nerd-shy. Even his easter-eggs are at least obvious enough once you realise they are there to be found. 17:02, 23 April 2023 (UTC)

"Mind-numbingly vast" seems too close to "Mind-bogglingly big" from Hitchtiker's Guide to the Galaxy to not be a subtle reference. 11:33, 2 February 2024 (UTC)