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Frank Simon | MPI for Physics | Germany

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Naming an Experiment: A never-ending Story?

We’ve already seen how important, and sometimes subtle, names for experiments and collaborations can be. In bigger collaborations, finding a name can also be a source of seemingly endless debate. The planned high-luminosity successor experiment to the currently still running Belle experiment at KEK in Japan just went through this process, with thankfully a final outcome now… Well, I do hope it is final, just to save my email inbox from more suffering! For quite a while now, this new experiment has been referred to as SuperBelle, in particular among the new European collaborators. But as usual, not everybody was happy with the name, so a name-finding process was initiated. I was actually surprised at the number of suggested names, ranging from perfectly reasonable to utterly crazy, and about one suggestion per each four collaboration members.

Anyway, a very good habit for future name searches is to just enter the suggestions into Google. If you can not bring the results up on your laptop while sitting in a crowded room without being seriously embarrassed or even risking to get your computer banned from the network because of violation of the network user agreement, the name might not be such a good idea after all…

After what felt like a thousand emails (probably more like a hundred or so), two names emerged as the ones with the most support: SuperBelle and Belle-II. I think both names would have been good choices, since they keep the already well known (and highly successful) Belle as part of the name. SuperBelle seemed to me slightly better, since it sounds more like a major step ahead. After all, this new experiment is aiming for a factor of 50 increase in the amount of collected data, compared to Belle. Following the discussion, I was surprised at the unbelievable childishness of some grown-up physicists: Threatening to leave the collaboration if the name SuperBelle is chosen? Shouldn’t science be the thing that drives your decision to participate in an experiment? Apparently not everybody thinks so. Well, anyway, after a shoot-out vote, Belle-II was chosen by a narrow margin.

So, now that we have a name, I think it is time to get back to work on making this new experiment happen, but then, we will also need a new logo. So there might be more fun discussions ahead!

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