The Pink Lake isn’t pink!

When tourists arrive in Esperance, they make a beeline for the Pink Lake the Western Australian south coast town is famous for. The problem? It’s not pink anymore.

Conservation experts believe the fate of Pink Lake was sealed years ago when a highway and rail line cut off the natural flow of water into the salt lake system. Super saline conditions are needed to support the green algae that accumulates the beta-carotene pigment, the same pigment that colours carrots, which turned the lake pink. “With the loss of the channel, these salts aren’t flushing through into Pink Lake, and as a result Pink Lake doesn’t turn pink any more,” State Government conservation officer Steven Butler said. Salt mining on the lake, which has long since shut down, was also a factor.

Tourism Esperance chairman Wayne Halliday said the organisation was lobbying the Western Australian Department of Lands to remove any reference to Pink Lake on official documents and replace it with the original name. “We are currently seeking to have the Pink Lake, just the lake name, reverted back to its original gazetted name of Lake Spencer,” Mr Halliday said.

Read about possible solutions to this colorful issue at ABCNews!

Interstellar asteroid given the Hawaiian name ‘Oumuamua

This artist’s impression shows the first interstellar asteroid, `Oumuamua. 

An asteroid that visited us from interstellar space is one of the most elongated cosmic objects known to science, a study has shown. Discovered on 19 October 2017, the object’s speed and trajectory strongly suggested it originated in a planetary system around another star. Astronomers have been scrambling to observe the unique space rock, known as ‘Oumuamua (pronounced oh MOO-uh MOO-uh), before it fades from view.

The asteroid’s name, ‘Oumuamua, means “a messenger from afar arriving first” in Hawaiian. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) also approved an official scientific designation for ‘Oumuamua: 1I/2017 U1.

‘Oumuamua was first spotted on Oct. 19, by astronomers using the Pan-STARRS1 telescope in Hawaii. The smallish object was first classified as a comet but then regarded as an asteroid, after further observations revealed no evidence of a coma (the fuzzy cloud of gas and dust that surrounds a comet’s core).

Find out more about this amazing asteroid in this BBC News article!


Property prices lower on streets with silly names in Australia

House prices on streets with silly names are significantly lower than houses on nearby streets, a study by Victorian school students has found. High school girls at Sacred Heart College (SHC) in Geelong, a city in Melbourne, Australia, conducted the research with guidance from the school’s head of science, Adam Cole.

The students identified 27 streets in Victoria with silly names, including Butt Street, Wanke Road and Fanny Street. (American readers: “fanny” has a different meaning in the UK and Australia/NZ than it does in the US!)  They found that property prices in streets with silly names were about 20 per cent lower than properties in the normally-named roads. As the report notes, that amounts to a $140,000 saving on a median-priced Melbourne house.

Read this article at ABC News to find out more – and if Australians would take advantage of the savings!

The most popular girls’ names in Tudor England

The “Darnley Portrait” of Elizabeth I (c. 1575)

What were the most popular names for girls in England during the 16th century? This was one of the questions examined by Scott Smith-Bannister in his book Names and Naming Patterns in England 1538-1700.

A large section of Smith-Bannister’s research was to follow the records of baptisms found in 40 parish registers spread throughout England. By following their records from 1538 to 1700, the author was able to get a sample of 122,710 names. Here is a sample from his lists:

Years: 1538-49

1. Joan
2. Elizabeth
3. Agnes
4. Alice
5. Anne
6. Margaret
7. Mary
8. Jane
9. Margery
10. Edith

Click through to this post at to see the rest of the results!

WIll Olivia Garton get free breadsticks?

Justin Garton/Twitter

One Olive Garden–loving couple has decided to give their new daughter a name bearing a striking resemblance to the restaurant, both confusing and delighting the Internet at the same time: Olivia Garton.

Both Jordan and Justin grew up eating at Olive Garden, but it wasn’t until shortly after their wedding in 2015 that their enthusiasm turned into outright love. After purchasing a $100 never-ending pasta pass, the Arkansas couple ate their fill at Olive Garden every day for weeks. “We committed to eating there every day for six or seven weeks to get our money’s worth,” Justin told ABC News. “It saved us several hundred dollars when we really needed it.”

They decided to go with Olivia instead, claiming that they “immediately” felt like it was perfect for their little girl. “We were able to make the joke, but a little more subtle, and it’s still a pretty name,” said Justin. “It was definitely an easy decision.”

Click through to this article at CafeMom to see how the internet reacted!

About Names: Walter weathers name’s ebbs, flows

Walt and Lillian Disney departing from Kastrup Airport CPH, Copenhagen 1959

Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his December 5th column, he looks at the history of the name Walter.

Walt Disney (1901-1966) was born Walter Elias Disney 116 years ago. After creating Mickey in 1928, he made “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937), the first successful animated feature. He won 22 Academy Awards, the most by one person, and created the theme parks Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

The name Walter comes from an ancient Germanic name combining “wald” (ruler) with “hari” (army). The form Walter was brought to England by Norman conquerors in 1066. Around 1380, Walter ranked eighth for English men. It was especially common in Devonshire. There, Walter of Cowick, a 12th century monk who had visions of purgatory and wore bearskins, was revered as a saint. Back then, Walter was pronounced “Water,” and its nickname was Wat. Family names Walters, Watt, Watts, Watkins, Waters and Waterson show descent from Walter. After 1600, as literacy increased, people started pronouncing the “l.”

With such a long stretch of popularity, there are scores of famous Walters besides Disney. Poet Walt Whitman (1819-1892) and basketball star Walt Frazier (1945) are two known by the nickname.


Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Walters in history!

Debate over changing the name of South Africa

The Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, inadvertently started an onomastic earthquake this year when he suggested that South Africa’s name be official changed to Azania.  According to the Minister, the toponymic makeover would be a fitting reflection of the significant cultural and political changes the country has undergone since the ending of Apartheid.  While some have applauded the suggestion, others have criticized that the geographic rebranding is not only unnecessary but would be prohibitively expensive.  More details about the onomastic debate can be found in this article at the Independent Online.

Exhibition: Landscapes Below: Mapping and the New Science of Geology, Cambridge University Library, 11/17-3/18

Landscapes Below: Mapping and the New Science of Geology“, a new exhibition curated by Allison Ksiazkiewicz, is now open. Featuring the biggest-ever object (1.9mx1.6m) to go on display at the Library — George Bellas Greenough’s 1819 A Geological Map of England and Wales (the first map produced by the Geological Society of London), as well as a visually stunning collection of maps from the earliest days of geology – the exhibition explores how these new subterranean visions of the British landscape influenced our understanding of the Earth. All the maps belonging to the library are going on display for the first time.

The exhibit runs from November 24, 2017 to March 29, 2018 at Cambridge University Library’s Milstein Exhibition Centre. Admission is free. Opening times are Mon-Fri 9am-6pm and Saturday 9am-16.30pm. Closed Sundays. Also please note that it is also CLOSED 24 December 2017 to 1 January 2018 inclusive (i.e. between Christmas and New Year).

Why the Danish Town of Aabenraa Refuses to Change Its Name

Aabenraa, Danemark

Aabenraa’s name comes from aaben strand, or Danish for “open beach.” Denmark had long used “aa” to represent a Danish vowel sound that’s elusive for English speakers, but is kind of similar to the vowel in our word “caught.” But in 1948, the country decided to reform its spelling, replacing “aa” with “å”. That’s how this vowel is written in every other Scandinavian language. As a result, the Danish Language Board recommended that Aabenraa rename itself “Åbenrå.”

In 1955, Denmark decided that their new letter “Å” would be the last letter of the alphabet, coming after “Z” in the dictionary. Aabenraa, which was accustomed to being the world’s very first town alphabetically, was unenthusiastic about moving to the very bottom of the list overnight. Read this fun and informative article at Condé Nast Traveler to find out more!

The Stories Behind High-End Brand Names

Nike, UNIQLO, Ray-Ban – just some of the familiar names for fashion lovers. Ever wonder where the names come from? Did you know that NYX should be pronounced “nicks” after the Greek goddess of the night? Or that ASOS stands for the company’s original name “As Seen On Screen” and “ghd” simply stands for “good hair day”? Check out the infographic at Beauty Flash for more information on how some of the top brands got their names.