Back in November, the National Environment Research Council (NERC) funded a new ship that will be critically important to our understanding of the Southern Ocean. The ice-covered water, considered a data desert, is virtually inaccessible unless you’re actually on top of it. This new vessell was designed to break ice, has a 19,000-mile oceanic range, and is nearly silent to allow the crew to gather crucial research data—a true architectural feat. That data will help us better understand climate change and the various strategies we can adopt to combat it. So what do you name such an important ship? How about Boaty McBoatface?
In a decision I’m sure they regret, NERC declared a #nameourship campaign and opened the inaugural ship’s naming to the general British public. The polls closed at midnight on Saturday and Boaty McBoatface won in a route, claiming an overwhelming 78% of the vote. Unarguably, this is a success for the entire world; if I were a scientist, no honor would be greater than to patrol the Antarctic on a boat named Boaty McBoatface. I can almost envisage the shy smile on his (or her) giant face. She (or he) would be the happiest boat. I love Boaty McBoatface.
The celebration must wait, though; the NERC foresaw the British jokesters and added a clause in the #nameourship campaign that essentially said, “Have fun with this contest but if we don’t like your name we’re gonna name it ourselves anyways.” More officially: “NERC will now review all of the suggested names and the final decision for the name will be announced in due course.” The NERC has a history of naming ships after famous nautical explorers, which doesn’t really bode well for Boaty.
Unsurprisingly, people aren’t happy over the dig at democracy:
@NERCscience If you don’t call it Boaty McBoatface I’ll hate science forever.
— Lo Five (@LOFIVE_) April 17, 2016
You hear that NERC? You’ll lose prospective scientists if you mess this one up—the internet has spoken and we want Boaty! (Also, good job on the science. We support your mission even if you end up making the wrong decision, I guess.)
IFLS tallied the vote breakdown:
Boaty McBoatface – 124,109 votes
Poppy-Mai – 34,371 votes
Henry Worsley – 15,231 votes
It’s bloody cold here – 10,679 votes
David Attenborough – 10,284 votes
Usain Boat – 8,710 votes
Boatimus Prime – 8,365 votes
Katherine Giles – 7,567 votes
Catalina de Aragon – 6,826 votes
I like big boats & I cannot lie – 6,452 votes
Have any better boat names up your sleeves? Is there such thing as a better name than Boaty McBoatface? Let us know in the comments.
We’re no strangers to talking about temperature. Here’s a Because Science all about why Iceman would set people on fire.