While certainly not the most comprehensively correct collection of information, Wikipedia is one of the largest, and continues to grow daily, thanks to the untold number of people who add to and edit the site. (That’s right, Funk and Wagnall, we know you’ve been hyping up your own entries.) Wikipedia has gone from a reference source to a member of that class of Internet programs that functions as a verb. Go ahead and “Wikipedia” the latest group of asteroids to get proper names. You might find something familiar.
The Committee for Small Body Nomenclature has officially changed the name of main belt asteroid “274301” to “Wikipedia”, joining dozens of other astronomers, physicists, engineers, and others in the latest round-up of newly named cellestial bodies in the Minor Planet Circular. That’s probably not going to be on a table at your dentist’s office.
“Wikipedia” was first discovered in August 2008 by astronomers working at the Audrushivka Astronomical Observatory in the Ukraine, and observations soon followed from observatories in Caussols-ODAS in France and Mt. Lemmon Survey and Steward Observatory in Arizona. It’s about a mile in diameter, and orbits the sun once every 3.68 Earth years at a distance of 2.4 times how far away the Earth is from the sun.
The name came as a suggestion to the Committee from a board member of the Wikimedia Foundation in the Ukraine, and the Committee made it official on January 27. They were going to name another one Wikileaks, but no one would go on record proving that particular android existed.