Suggest a new name for the Very Large Array


254 Responses to “Suggest a new name for the Very Large Array”

  1. msbpodcast says:

    I like “Emily”. Its not an acronym or anything. She’s just Emily the radio dish array.

  2. Art says:

    “The Gigantic Electrical Radio Space Ears That Don’t Really Take Neat Pictures Like Hubble”

    (Catchy Acronym:  T.G.E.R.S.E.T.D.R.T.N.P.L.H.)

  3. That-Which-Must-Not-Be-Renamed

  4. beemoh says:

    Am I the only person desperately trying to think of something that acronyms as “VERY LARGE ARRAY”?

  5. Draxlith says:

    “The comment section will be full of sarcastic jokes.”

    Well, they can clearly dish it out, so hopefully they can take it, too.

  6. GuyInMilwaukee says:

    The “Holy Crap That’s a Big Array” array has nice ring to it.

    Kidding aside… Is there an array named for Carl Sagan yet? That would have my vote.

  7. xenphilos says:

    First thing that popped into my head: int array[very large]

  8. jamesggilmore says:

    Why not just call it the Sagan Array?

    If you need to make it an acronym, it would be the Sweet-Ass Gigantic Astronomical Networked Array.

    • bwcbwc says:

      Yeah, as I recall it made an appearance in “Contact” as well as “Cosmos”. Name it after Sagan and be done with it. Unless there’s some sort of institutional rivalry resulting in NIH syndrome (“Not Invented Here”, not “National Institutes of Health”). Now let’s see: The Sagan Large Array? The Large Sagan Array? The Very Sagan Large Array?

      Oh well. Skip Sagan. Let’s name it The Large Boing-boing Array.

  9. Paul Renault says:

    The Ultimate Freakin’ Interferometry Array?

    Or has that acronym already been taken?

  10. Bevatron Repairman says:

    Big Bucket o’ Janskys.

  11. +5 Array of Radio Listening

  12. nixiebunny says:

    The grad students where I work made a joke poster for the Super Huge Interferometric Telescope, which would actually describe this thing pretty well. Not the connotation, but the acronym. 

  13. GIFtheory says:

    the Very Large But-Not-As-Large-As-It-Could-Be-Thanks-Obama Array

  14. Lobster says:

    Excessively Huge Array?

  15. wendy robb says:

    This one has my vote :)

  16. OohErMissus says:

    Giant INterferometric Observatory Of Radio-source Mapping Array System – or GINOORMAS, for short.

  17. Don Smith says:

    The Some Like It Hot National Array.

  18. planettom says:

    I’m trying to remember what the project was named in Arthur C. Clarke’s IMPERIAL EARTH, it was a space-based Very Large Array, basically.   It could see in all directions, and I’m thinking it was named after some Greek mythology figure or something.    But I’m blanking.  Maybe it was just Janus.

  19. You have all lived up to my expectations/hopes. Thank you. 

  20. Cocomaan says:

    I suggested the “Well Endowed Array”

  21. Chris.Williams says:


  22. Chris Collins says:

    ["hip", "hip"] anyone?

  23. Knock knock.
    Who’s there?
    Dishes who?
    Dishes de biggesht array I’ve ever seen.

  24. Parabolic Optimized Observatory Platform

  25. The “Just think, somewhere out there in the vastness of the universe, another civilization has an identical array of radio telescopes pointed back at us. And did you ever really look at your hands?!” Array

  26. ChicagoD says:

    I guess Dish Network is already taken, isn’t it.

  27. sudsi says:

    The Array Formerly Known as “Very Large”. Or Diddy.

  28. TheHowl says:

    Boo NRAO. What’s wrong with Very Large Array? It’s nicely descriptive, and pretty awesome in its own prosaic way. Not everything needs rebranding (I can just see them now: “ooh, ooh, could we name it Quikstar? that sounds hip and high-tech!”).

    (Don’t even get me started on the dumbass backronyms.)

  29. zweii says:

    Array XXL

  30. GuyInMilwaukee says:

    Arroway Array

  31. I kinda like Very Large Array. It’s unique and says what it is. How about Unbounded Array?

  32. Jim Saul says:

    We should call it “YASNY.”

    You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet.

    Or “What they thought was big back before we discovered the first few signals.”

  33. I am become Array, observer of worlds.

  34. Jim Saul says:

    “Very Large, you know, for a ground-based array.  But really groundlings, don’t feel bad, size doesn’t mattter.”

  35. calebcharles says:

    Carl’s Array Really Large

  36. snusles says:

    Big ‘n dishy

  37. GuyInMilwaukee says:

    The “Excuse Me While I Kiss the Sky” Array

  38. Seto says:

    They better not name it “Carl Sagan’s Very Large Array”!

    • Oh… I think they better. =)

    • David James says:

      No, it’ll be something more like “Subway $5 Foot-long Array”. With hand signals and another goddamned catchy jingle.

      And then everyone will still just call it the VLA, except for sportscasters, who will visibly cringe every time they say the name. (You think it’s a coincidence they’re basically never on-screen when they announce the stadium where the game of the day is being played?

  39. angstrom says:

    I suggest something that appeals to the voting public’s knee jerk response, and therefore ensures continued  funding.

    #1 :  Alien Sky Cannon
    #2:   i Earth -  instant messenger
    #3:   Prayer Booster Pro
    #4:  American Eagle Patriot Defense Shield
    #5:  Mothers for Family Values national Monument

  40. A Hut Full says:

    Does anyone else think “Very Large Array” is perfectly awesome?

    • senatorvreenak says:

      The “Still Not As Big As Yo Mama-rray”

    • petertrepan says:

      The Yo Mama-rray is so big, it grants funding to Congress.
      The Yo Mama-rray is so big, the centermost dish just picked up a TV broadcast from 1936.
      The Yo Mama-rray is so big, when it triangulates on a star, the triangle is equilateral.
      The Yo Mama-rray is so big, a scientist once fell from the top of a dish, and Congress passed legislation requiring his coworkers to catch him.

  41. aynrandspenismighty says:

    Edith Head?

  42. Red Pill Junkie says:



  43. andyhavens says:

    The Uncovered Dish Super

  44. Alvis says:

    I’d mess with conspiracy buffs by naming it the Weather Dominator.

  45. Red Pill Junkie says:

    All your Arrays are belong to Us

  46. allybeag says:

    I’ve always liked Very Large Array. Why change it? It describes what it is, which is more than a lot of names do. There’s something quite poetic about its prosaicness.

  47. TheOmbudsman says:

    O Array,
    Ooh, you are so big…
    So absolutely huge…
    Gosh, we’re all really impressed down here, I can tell you…
    Forgive us, O Array, for this, our dreadful toadying, and barefaced flattery…
    But you are so strong and, well, just so super.

  48. technogeekagain says:

    This seems a no-brainer: Which noted astronomers/astrophysicists/cosmologists, or educators in those areas, don’t yet have a ‘scope named after them? Among those, whose work was or will be most facilitated by the VLA, and thus is best to associate with it?

    Or just find someone from those ranks who is named Vila or Villa, so the abbreviation need not be changed.

    (I’m still waiting for the Sagan to become an official unit of something, with a value that can be described as “billions and billions”)

  49. RJ says:

    The Quite Substantial Instrument. If that doesn’t work for the array, it would still work as a porno title.

  50. xzzy says:

    If a name change is necessary, I think the only reasonable thing to call it is ‘Vlad’.

    (the existing name is fine, I love it when scientists let their sense of humor show and they should leave it as is)

    The worst part about these naming contests is invariably something hopelessly sappy is chosen, and it was probably submitted by some 9 year old kid. It will either be dripping with patriotism, or function as a memorial for someone/thing.

  51. Troy says:

    VLAD – Very Large Array Designation

  52. Paul Butler says:

    How about degrasse knoll array.  

  53. awjt says:

    The Shrooms

  54. wibbled_pig says:

    Finding Aliens is Really Tiresome

  55. thivai says:

    Our Array is So Big it Hertz

  56. Nadreck says:

    How about various peepers from literature?
    The Planatir
    The Guardian of Forever
    The Panopticon

  57. hairfool says:

    Upgraded Very Large Array

  58. Ken Thomas says:

    Since NASA refuses to name anything after Neal Armstrong, I think they should name it after him.

    Besides, Armstrong Array sounds pretty cool.

  59. yadayada says:

    First thought: Very Big Array.

    That’s why I’m not a writer.

  60. James Ph. Kotsybar says:

    Christopher Locke wins my vote for best joke!

  61. Mike Baker says:

    Look Array Up There

  62. lee_hasler says:

    Jumbo Space Nipples?

  63. keihin says:

    Dish Dish Dish Dish Dish Dish Dish Dish Dish Dish Dish Dish Dish Dish Dish Dish Dish Dish Dish Dish Dish Dish Dish Dish Dish Dish Dish

  64. Petzl says:

    Get corporate sponsorship and call it
    The DORITOS® Spicy Sweet Chili-Flavored Tortilla Chips Very Large Array.

  65. martin leach says:

    Earth Zit

    or BAARRAY – pronounced BARRY – for Big Ass Array

  66. martin leach says:

    WGT11 – We Go To 11 !!!!

    courtesy of spinal tap!

  67. Michael Bishop says:

    “The Ear”

  68. zachleat says:


  69. Art says:

    I LIKE that, Jack!  :)

  70. Grant says:

    The Ted Kennedy Memorial Wicked Monstah Array

  71. Krutus says:

    The My Balls Array.


  72. ymr049c says:

    The Very Large No Seriously You Should See It Array

  73. Mongrove_Moone says:

    technogeekagain said:
    (I’m still waiting for the Sagan to become an official unit of
    something, with a value that can be described as “billions and

    Might I suggest we start using the Sagan as an astronomical unit for 10 billion stars? We could describe the Milky Way as being on a scale of 20-40 Sagans.

    My thought is, for you to have “one” billions, you would need two billion. (In the same way that you need a minimum of two “dog” to actually have “dogs”.) “Billions and billions” would then imply, at very least, four billion. But since that’s an awkward number for a decimal-based civilization to use, rounding up to 10 (the building block of the metric system) seems quite… logical?

  74. Talia says:

    Name it Dis! :P

    Serious suggestion: I love the sound of Asimov Array.

  75. moioci says:

    Vast Tracts of Land Array

  76. Dishes for Pie Town (in honor of nearby Pie Town NM)

  77. slashdottir says:

    The “total perception vortex”

  78. slashdottir says:

    The “Total Perspective Vortex”, I mean

  79. Teller says:

    The Loring Wirbel-inspired: Deep Dish Pie-in-the-Sky

    Or, given its mission: Array of Hope

  80. lorq says:

    The Array of Unusual Size.

  81. Derek Parlee says:

    The cupboard.

  82. omems says:

    Large Array of Independent Dishes

    You can figure out the jokes from there.

  83. Frank W says:


  84. Gtmac says:

    I’m quite surprised, given the likely prevalence of old school gamers on this site that  no one went with “BFA”.

  85. GregS says:

    Some people already jokingly use “Sagan” as a unit denoting 4 billion. “Billions” has to be at least 2 billion, so “billions and billions” is 4 billion.

    Personally, I’d like to see the VLA named after Carl Sagan, who certainly deserves some sort of honor on this scale.

  86. parfae says:

    Raymond Throat-Wobbler Mangrove 

  87. Ethan Holman says:

    Andre The Giant Array.


    The Notorious BIG Array.

  88. Ethan Holman says:

    I Like Big Radio Telescopes And I Cannot Lie; You Other Astrophysicists Can’t Deny.

  89. huxley82 says:

    Marjorie the Very Large Array, How do you see so far away?

  90. BBNinja says:

    I suggested BFA, a tribute to Doom’s BFG, which if you’re familiar with the acronym… :P

  91. looking at these reminds me of that story about how domestic turkeys are so stupid that if they look up at the sky when it’s raining they will drown.

    so probably something about turkeys?

  92. Bob Rossney says:

    The people behind this idea are maybe a little too close to the problem, because the name “Very Large Array” is perfect.  It’s mysterious:  very large what?  Large compared to what?  How much bigger than large is very large?  

    It’s modest in a speak-softly-and-carry-a-big-stick way:  it suggests something like, “we could call this the Extremely Massive Array, but there’s no need for us to try and spook people.  But don’t cross us.”  And finally, it gives the suggestion that this is a tool for people who are serious, not dilettantes on the Internet who need to be entertained – while, paradoxically, entertaining dilettantes on the Internet.

  93. jowlsey says:

    The embiggened radio telescope.

  94. “Is That An Array In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Happy To See Me”
    “The Really Really Very Large Array”
    “The Not So Small Array”
    “The Fucking Ridiculously Large Array”
    “The What Are You Compensating For Array”

  95. arkansas says:

    The Bigger Than Your Array. This Space for Rent Array. Go Away Array.

  96. arkansas says:


  97. arkansas says:

    The HarryCArray.

  98. Dwen Dooley says:

    Betty Crocker’s Very Large Array. 
    A perfect dish, every night.

  99. hummakavula says:

    Up, Up and Array?

  100. Talia says:

    How about Faye? The Faye Array. :D

    As an aside, I like how the comments/likes recieved thing glitches out periodically. Like I saw this just now: ” 109 comments 2364 likes received” and briefly felt VERY popular :D 

  101. awjt says:

    “Hesher was here!”

  102. Dan says:

    Big Eye
    Bug Eye
    The Ant Hill (all those smaller things working together)
    The Latin Villa (ever notice how latin areas have tons of satellite dishes so they can get the spanish channels?)
    The Busybody
    Bowl Town
    The Universal AC
    Fistful of dishes

  103. awjt says:

    Very Unusually Luscious Vast Unique Zesty Enormously Large Array 


    My work is done here.

  104. Very Large Array, Newly Extended/VLANE

    (or even: VLA mark 2)

  105. OtherMichael says:

    EARTh := uniquE Array of Radio Telescopes
    EARhART :=     uniquE ARrAy of Radio Telescopes

  106. Benz BenMan says:


  107. MonkeyRobo says:

    Earth’s Ear Trumpet.

  108. First of all it’s the DHARMA Initiative. Not a corporation (although they held several fake companies.) And the DHARMA has to be capitalized.

  109. fnc says:

    Very Larger Array

    …or maybe…

    Eye of Sauron

  110. pete_thedevguy says:

    Jean-Luc Picard Memorial Array.

  111. Astra Very Large Array  AVLA.    —Simple and to the point

  112. Phil Teare says:


    Pron.: Looky ‘n Da

  113. bwcbwc says:

    How about the Aperture Science Listening Portal

  114. Charlie B says:

    A great example of the inherent futility of the Semantic Web.

    This thing already has a name.  A lame one, it’s true, because we should know by now not to officially name things “very adjective noun”.  But that lame name already has a significant body of existing associations (paperwork, websites, etc.), and yet we’re talking about renaming it, as though that wouldn’t be a total waste of time and effort.

    OK, I vote for “Emily” then.

  115. jimh says:


  116. demidan says:

    Babel Dish.

  117. freddiefreelance says:

    Eryvay Argelay Arrayway

  118. Sofia Ortiz says:

    Very Large Array = VLA
    VLA flipped is ALV
    So I think we should call it Alvin.
    And it should broadcast chipmunk tunes, just to be extra-annoying to the universe.

  119. demidan says:

    Sirius Cybernetics easy listening device

  120. At first glance, I’d go with ‘Hip Hip Array,’ But Am I wrong for also wanting to demand a contest to choose a new name for the contest? “Suggest a new name for the Very Large Array!” has absolutely no pop and one exclamation too many.

  121. Julien Durand says:

    The Ear

  122. crummett says:

    Bob. Wait, is this a boy array or a girl array?

    Seriously, what’s wrong with Very Large Array? It has a geeky straightforwardness I’ve always liked.

  123. demidan says:

    The Bose Star Canceling Headphone Array mkII

  124. jimh says:

    Beeper King

  125. Gene says:

    “Shhh! We’re Listening.”

  126. Guest says:

    Planet Listen-Thing

  127. jimh says:

    The Please Don’t Take My Sunshine Array
    (okay, I stop now)

  128. petertrepan says:

    Name it “The Cloud,” and imply that it’s required for iPhones to function properly.

  129. ackpht says:

    I like the idea of a cosmological unit called the “Sagan”. As for the VLA, my first choice is:

    The Frickin’ Huge Array

  130. dogden says:

    The Very Large Array is an awesome name.  It’s memorable, it describes the very large array perfectly, and it lacks pretention.  Lacking pretention makes the Very Large Array unique.

    Who wants a Saganscope or an iListen or an Al Gore Memorial Satellite Dish Field?  No one!  They want a very large array!  And that’s what you know you’re getting when you use or visit the Very Large Array.Keep the name!

  131. Tim Samson says:

    This makes me a little sad. I always loved the name of the VLA. I say they keep it. At least there is still the Overwhelmingly Large(OWL) telescope.

  132. Ambiguity says:

    In order to ensure continued funding, I think it needs some kind of TSA tie-in.

    The Alient Invasion Backscatter Protection Array

  133. Doug Madden says:


  134. oohShiny says:

    I dunno, we could just name it Carl. Not an acronym, just… you know. Carl. 

    “What’re you doing today?”

    “Ah, I’m going to go see if Carl’s heard from the aliens yet.”

    “Right, cool. Later.”

  135. “Bigeyes”. For prefix, I chose “Mr.”

  136. JoshP says:

    I’d go with Sagan Array, something Saganish,etc.  Why..?
    1. Why not?  It personalizes that project and might bring more attention to the SETI and radio telescopy in general.
    2.  Besides neologizing being fun, I think it would be cool if the term ‘Sagan Array’ went into general usage to describe large radio arrays.  If these things proliferate we are going to need a catchier term than, ‘that there clump of giant dishes over there.’  Two birds with one big ass stone.

  137. Purplecat says:

    call it BORAT

    the Bunch Of Radio Astronomy Thingies.

  138. Doug Madden says:

    ocularis infinitum

  139. The Space Listening Game

  140. Doug Madden says:

    the Matrix?

  141. Greg Olwell says:

    The Antennae Formerly Known As The Very Large Array? Or Phil.

  142. The Easy Listening Station?
    National Public Radio Receiver?

  143. I suspect that they’re working on an even larger array and are trying to avoid calling it the Even Larger Array, so they need the name.  

    With that in mind, I suggest we rename it the Fairly Large Array.

    Or Emily.

  144. dagfooyo says:

    They should just keep it the VLA.  But if they have to change it I agree it should be named after Sagan.


    Up, up, an Array!

  145. Bradley Hall says:

    I suggested GoldenEye.

  146. Brainspore says:

    They should call it the Virgin® Large Array just to see if they can trick Sir Richard Branson into thinking he agreed to pay for the thing.

  147. menton says:

    This is what I submitted:  The Sting Array   (shorthand: the Sting).

  148. videobored says:

    The long time ago in a galaxy far far array…

  149. Red Pill Junkie says:

    Array for

    • David James says:

      This reminds me of a gem of an antenna- the SATAN Tracking Antenna (seen here:

  150. PhosPhorious says:

    Over the hills and far array.

  151. chrism says:

    I’m British. How about The Reasonably Large Array?

  152. Connie says:

    Larray (Larry) of course. 

  153. B.R. Booten says:

    The Texas Satellite Dish.

  154. Bill Connell says:

    Array in a Manger

    Home, Home on Array

    Array Bradbury

    or, if they don’t mind moving it… Arraysin’ Arizona

  155. demidan says:

    Big Brother

  156. Jim Sedgwick says:

    Big Boned Array

  157. skabob says:

    Babs’s UVLA – Upgraded Very Large Array

  158. UncaScrooge says:


  159. factbased says:

    How about something ruder, like “Wankel Rotary Array”?

  160. John Evans says:

    The Bucket of Ears

  161. Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey says:

    The 100th birthday of Grote Reber, the eccentric pioneering radio astronomer, is coming up on 22 December.  He worked at times at NRAO’s Green Bank, WV, site, and people there still remember him.  So it might be appropriate to rename it the Reber Array.

  162. wiredfool says:

    The VLA is far larger than either the Overwhelmingly Large Telescope or the Extremely Large Telescope. 

    I still like Array Of Unusual Size.

  163. Aaron Swain says:

    In all seriousness, I really think it should be renamed to honor either Carl Sagan or Arthur C. Clarke.

  164. Teirhan says:

    This is the best comment thread. I <3 you all, boingboing. 

  165. Antinous / Moderator says:

    If they name it Princess Marzipan Fluffytoes, it would save me the trouble of getting another cat.

  166. Palomino says:

    Hypnotized Chicken Ranch

  167. Bloo says:

    Atari Multi-Player Pong

  168. Ria Kirkbride says:

    TWAIN? Technology without an interesting name. Still fairly bland, still fairly apt and still having a touch of geek humour… Or is that a lil too subtle?

  169. Keith Benoit says:

    Norm Array.

  170. Keith Benoit says:

    Pray the Gay Array.

  171. Keith Benoit says:

    Cet obscur objet du désir.

    (In honor of Fernando Array)

  172. yeahyeahwhtever says:

    (Giant F**king Array)

  173. Keith Benoit says:

    Always Twirling Array.

  174. Keith Benoit says:

    Norm Array.

  175. Keith Benoit says:

    NIMBY Array.

  176. whisper dog says:

    The Not Overcompensating At All Array

    The Quietly Intimidating Array

  177. j9c says:

    Pre-Peak Oil Big Government Oh Hey Wait *Socialist* Expenditure That We Can’t Afford To Run Anymore Now That We’re Out of Cheap Energy, We’ve Trashed Our Country’s Education System and Scientists Are Likely Planning a Mass Exodus to a Self-Respecting Nation That Doesn’t Consider Ketchup a Vegetable in School Lunch Programs and Creationism a Serious Alternative To Evolution in School Curricula… Array.

    Sorry, kinda drawing a blank on the acronym here.

  178. Dom says:

    The Harpo Marx Memorial Array, out of respect for the great man.

  179. CP-S says:

    The Lewis Thomas Array:

    “Perhaps the safest thing to do at the outset, if technology permits, is
    to send music. This language may be the best we have for explaining what
    we are like to others in space, with least ambiguity. I would vote for
    Bach, all of Bach, streamed out into space, over and over again. We
    would be bragging of course, but it is surely excusable to put the best
    possible face on at the beginning of such an acquaintance. We can tell
    the harder truths later.” – Lewis Thomas, ‘Ceti,’ “The Lives of a Cell”

  180. niktemadur says:

    Standing Far Back When The Gravitas Was Handed Out

  181. bill50 says:


  182. bill50 says:

    big EAR         Earth    Array  Receiver

  183. tw1515tw says:

    The Hurry up (h) Array

  184. Sooper8 says:

    I like Valerie…and on the opening day we could blast out ‘Valerie’ by the Zutons (or Amy Whitehouse if you prefer)

  185. Adam S. says:

    Very Very Large Array

  186. Jim Smith says:

    Indis Array

    Seriously though everyone knows it as the VLA and it has the benefit of being descriptive.

  187. noah django says:

    God’s iPod

  188. Rah El says:

    The Alien Fishnet.

  189. Jim Smith says:

    Fixed Array of Radio Telescopes

  190. Daemonworks says:

    Recently Improved Relay

  191. stib says:

    Don’t know about a new name, but just looking at the wikipedia page, it could do with some lovin’. eg:

    Popular culture

    The image of the VLA has become nearly iconic in American culture,
    though most persons do not know where it is located or what exactly it
    does. But it has appeared in much of pop culture since its construction

  192. borkbork says:

    new Array[n..MAX_INT]

  193. Andy Ribaudo says:

    Jodie Foster’s Army

  194. AlanJCastonguay says:

    How about the Very Large Array.

    • Andy Ribaudo says:

      That’s what I submitted on the VLA website — they give you an option to add a prefix to “Very Large Array” so I used “The” as my prefix.

  195. While I see no need to change the name really, I gotta boost the Carl Sagan Array (CSA) idea … He deserves it, and the VLA is an appropriate science instrument to honor him with.
    Carl Sagan Array, vote it up!! :D :D

  196. emo hex says:

     Carl Sagan’s Kitchen

  197. Tim Quinn says:

    The Big Sky Camera

  198. show me says:

    Name it after Maggie – the Baker Interferometric Telescope Coordinating the Heavens.

  199. LucusAnon says:

    (the Observatory Formerly Known As the Very Large Array).

  200. LucusAnon says:

    … or “ROFKAVLA”
    (the Radioastronomy Observatory Formerly Known As the Very Large Array).

  201. LucusAnon says:

    (Very Large Array Definitively Improved by Major Infrastructure Replacement)

  202. Corey Waldron says:


    … Although in my heart I think Carl Sagan deserves the namesake for sure… 

  203. OtherMichael says:

    Drop the “Very” entirely, and recurse it: the VLA Large Array

  204. Oskar Wallgren says:


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