Stories tagged names


Coastal watches/warnings and 5-Day track forecast cone for Hurricane Bill
Coastal watches/warnings and 5-Day track forecast cone for Hurricane BillCourtesy NOAA
The names for the 2009 hurricanes were announced a few days ago by the National Hurricane Center (NHC). The NHC has a list of names they draw from, that reuses names every six years or so, but if a storm is particularly bad a name will be retired. There are no "Q" or "U" names and they go alphabetically so when they get to Danny you'll know that's the fourth of the season. The names for 2009 are:

Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Erika, Fred, Grace, Henri, Ida, Joaquin, Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Odette, Pete, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Victor and Wanda.

(Interesting the names "Pete" and "Rose" are in succession.)

So far this year we're up to Claudette. Ana is old news already with the National Hurricane Center announcing yesterday that the storm had weakened so much they were no longer tracking it. Claudette is also weakening, but it had the distinction of being the first tropical system to reach land yet this season. Third in line is Bill, who has already become a category 3 hurricane. Follow Bill’s progress here.

Retired hurricane names.


Now, these are Brad Pitt's eyes: Or... no, maybe not. I'm not certain.
Now, these are Brad Pitt's eyes: Or... no, maybe not. I'm not certain.Courtesy myrmician
I’ll save you the anxiety of guessing and the effort of researching—it’s the third one. Or maybe psychology grad students really are good at Photoshop, and I simply can’t stand pictures of Bradbrad that have been adulterated in any way.

JGordon, what are you talking about?

Aahh, I don’t even know anymore. But I guess I’m referring to this study that recently came out of Vanderbilt University, about how we recognize human faces. It turns out that while we identify most stuff (cars are given as an example in the article) by individual features, individual humans are identified by the whole collection of facial features.

Holistic recognition (the way we see faces) is nice because we can quickly distinguish between lots of individuals. But the reason we’re able to do it so well, say the scientists, is because we associate names with faces, individuating them as we learn them. This is a different mental path than identifying something by individual parts.

Basically, we don’t identify people by thinking “Let’s see… square jaw, pointy nose, thin eyebrows, small ears… ah! That’s David!” And if we had learned to identify people that way, we would have to relearn to identify them holistically by all their features at once, because the two methods of identification aren’t really linked.

Or something. Like I said, I don’t really know what I’m talking about.

The scientists did, however, attempt to illustrate their point with this picture of actor Brad Pitt. The idea is as follows:
“See this picture of Brad Pitt?”
“Yes, I see that picture of Brad Pitt. Very nice.”
“Are you sure? Take a closer look.”
“What on Earth are you… Oh my goodness! The eyes! Those are Matt Damon’s eyes! Well, I never!”
“Yes, those are Matt Damon’s eyes! But you didn’t look at the eyes and say, ‘This is Matt Damon,’ did you?”
“No indeed!”

Except, if you’re anything like JGordon, you looked at that picture and thought, “What happened to Brad Pitt? Has Angelina Jolie been hitting him? Does he have eyeball parasites?” And you were so distracted by this that any future mention of psychology was overwhelmed by your concern for Benjamin Button himself. He’s only a child, after all.

Eh. Anyway, your photo project looks crazy, Vanderbilt.


Linnaeus at 68
Linnaeus at 68Courtesy Alexander Roslin; Royal Science Academy of Sweden
The Writer's Almanac reminds us that Carl Linnaeus was born 301 years ago today. Carl Linnaeus established the practice of using a unique set of two Latin terms to name a species, which became the common scientific naming system that we still use today.

The Almanac writes:

He was a botanist. He taught at universities. At a time when Sweden was one of the poorest countries in Europe, Linnaeus set out to import exotic plants and animals, hoping they could be raised for profit in Sweden. He hoped to raise tea and coffee, ginger, coconuts, silkworms.
His botanical experiments failed. The tea plants died. The coffee didn't make it in Sweden, and neither did ginger or coconuts or cotton. Rhubarb did though, and Linnaeus, late in his life, said the introduction of rhubarb to Sweden was his proudest achievement. But today we remember him for his contribution to taxonomy.

Oddly enough, I ate a rhubarb tart in celebration of a friend's birthday last night. I like to think it was in honor of good ol' Linné as well.

via Erin


Visitors to the Science Museum will get to pick a name for at least one of the peregrine falcon chicks in the High Bridge power plant nest box. (Last year, we got to name one. Your pick? Starshadow.)

The challenge? Each chick in the nest box program gets a unique name. No repeats. So here's a list of all the names that are "taken" already:

Abby, Alice, Allie, Alpha, Amanda, Amilia, Amy, Andrea, Andy, Angel, Anton, Apryl, Athena, Barbara, Belinda, Bend, Berger, Bern, Bert, Bertha, Beta, Bolt, Bomber, Bor, Brice, Britta, Burt, Buzz, Candy, Cassie, Charlee, Charlie, Cherokee, Chicklet, Chris, Cleo, CoCo, Cole, Colleen, Coz, Craig, Crystal, Cyndi, Dale, Dana, Danberg, Davey, Dawn, Delene, Delta, Diamond, Diana, Diane, Dick, Dixie Chick, Donna, Doolittle, Dot, Ed, Eileen, Elaine, Electra, Esperanza, Faith, Fast Track, Fluffy, Fran, Frank, Gamma, George, Gib, Gloria, Gold, Gretta, Grunwald, Harmony, Hickey, Hippie, Hope, Horus, Hotshot, Howard, Hunter, Huske, Irvine, Isabel, Jackie, Jacob, Jan, Janice, Jasmine, Jay, JB, Jenny, Jessy, Jim, Joe, Judy, Julie, Kali, Karlsen, Katraka, Kester, Kitty, Kidy, Kramer, Krista, Laura, Leo, Leon, Leona, Leonard, Liberty, Lightning, Lily, Linton, Lolo, Lon, Lora, Loree, Loretta, Lori, Louise, Lucky, Mac, Mae, Maggie, Malin, Manthey, Mapper, Marie, Marshall, Marty, Mary, Laude, Mew, Mica, Michael, Michelle, Minnie, Miranda, Miss, Miss Pam, Mulder, Murphy, Neil, Nero, Nicole, Nora, Oar, Orville, Oscar, Pam, Pamella, PF Flyer, PaTao, Pathfinder, Penelope, Penny, Phyllis, Polly, Porky, Prescott, Princess, Putnam, Quark, Queen, Rachael, Ralph, Razor, Red Ed, Rick, Rochelle, Rocket, Rocky, Romeo, Ryan, Ryu, Sarah, Scarlett, Screech, Scully, Seminole, Shakespeare, Sharky, Sheri, Sheridan, Sherlie, Smoke, Smokey, Sonic, Sophia, Speedy, Spider, Spirit, Spivvy, Starshadow, Static, Stephanie, Sue, Survivor, Swoop, Terri, Thelma, Thunder, Travis, Tundra, Vector, VernaMae, Veronica, Waldo, Wanda, Warren, Wayne, Webster, Wilbur, Willie, Wood, Younger, Yugi, Zack, Zippidy

Have a name you think would suit a falcon? Tell us. We'll turn the list of submitted names into a visitor poll, and the names with the highest number of votes will go to the chicks.

One other thing: last year, the number one name was "Santa's Little Helper," but it was too long. Keep the names short, if you want yours to be the one!


What's my name?: Researchers have found out that dolphins create their own series of clicks and whistles to identify themselves much like the names we give ourselves. (Photo by sandor at
You’ve got your Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and Rocky the Squirrel. How about Diane the Dolphin?

The May edition of National Geographic reports that marine biologists have discovered that dolphins give themselves a unique name to identify themselves among their peers. It might not sound like our first names such as “Bob” or “Lisa,” but rather is a unique combination of whistles and clicks that single them out among the other dolphins in their group.

So how do scientists know this for sure? Afterall, there aren’t any humans who can speak dolphin, right?

The idea that dolphins have their own unique sounds for their name dates back in theory to 1991. But only recently have researchers been able to test out those ideas.

What they’ve done is take audio recordings of dolphin sounds collected over the past 30 years. Focusing their efforts on bottle-nosed dolphins found around Sarasota, Fla., researchers mimicked those recorded sounds with sounds made through keyboard synthesizers and then played back that new audio to the dolphins through underwater speakers.

What they discovered was that the Florida dolphins responded strongly to the sounds that were copies of sounds from other dolphins in their group and largely ignored the sound patterns from unfamiliar dolphins.

Furthermore, researchers also believe that young dolphins begin honing their listening skills, and developing their own unique vocal identification, early in life. It’s an especially important skill for bottle-nose dolphins since they live in large packs in sometimes murky waters. With a much more advanced social structure than other types of animals, dolphins may need to have better ways of finding each other when their separated.

Other interesting twists to the dolphin naming practices:

• Male dolphins are likely to choose a pattern of sound that is similar to their mother’s name sound.
• Dolphins love their names. Researchers have determined that they’ll say their names a lot when communicating with other dolphins, for instance saying “Diane caught a fish.”
• Other dolphins will mimic a peer’s name sound patterns to get that dolphin’s attention.

More information about dolphin naming practices can be found at

And for all you football fans reading this, there’s no word in the research if any new dolphins have taken the name Daunte.