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Tuesday, February 1, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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New Name For The Big Bang? Contest Judges Can't Find Anything Better In The Universe

The birth of the universe is not going to be called Bertha D. Universe.

Jurassic Quark lost, too.

So did The Big Boot, The Grand Expansion, The Hubble Bubble, Portrait of the Universe as a Young Bam, and Wondroustart.

Some 13,099 readers from 41 countries wrote Sky and Telescope magazine with suggestions for replacing the name of the Big Bang theory with something snappier.

The idea was suggested last year by science writer Timothy Ferris, author of "Coming of Age In the Milky Way."

The Big Bang, Ferris complained, was coined in 1950 by astronomer Fred Hoyle as a descriptive insult of the idea the universe started in a gigantic explosion from a tiny point smaller than the head of pin. Hoyle meant to mock the idea, which has since gained wide acceptance.

Ferris said the name is misleading because it suggests a bomb exploding into pre-existing space while in fact space and time unfolded with matter, physicists believe. It implies the expansion was bright, when in its earliest moments the universe was dark. "Bang," he complained, seems both trivial and implies the event made a noise and that someone was around to hear it.

The comic strip "Calvin and Hobbes" voiced the same complaint, saying Big Bang was not evocative enough. Calvin suggested it be called "The Horrendous Space Kablooie."

So Sky and Telescope announced a re-naming contest and named Ferris, astronomer Carl Sagan and amateur astronomer and television

journalist Hugh Downs as judges.

They met, they considered, and they decided not one of the 13,099 entries was better than Big Bang.

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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