What’s in a Name


Turn your telescope upside down and you’ll have a microscope.

It was January 2017, and the company was ready to come to life, with production already going on and the first sales lined up. Only one last thing was missing: a company name. Of course Paul (Paul Maddox, president and founder of the Mizar Imaging) had already given it a thought, and together with Tanner (Tanner Fadero, co-inventor of the Tilt) they had plenty of ideas, some more silly than others, but nothing had yet felt quite right. The tech transfer office of UNC Chapel Hill had given them a spreadsheet containing hundreds of non-words which could be used as a company name. They had given the spreadsheet a go, but nothing.

Unsurprisingly to anyone who knows Paul, he couldn’t just settle for a nice, catchy name, he had to find a name which really meant something to him. So he decided to involve his older brother John, who had so many times before in Paul’s life been an inspiration to him. John suffers from schizophrenia and, between the many things we could tell you about him, the one thing that decided the fate of the company’s name was his passion for astronomy. 

Paul called John, told him about his problem and asked if he had any suggestions for a name. Maybe something linked to their microscopy technology…high resolution, seeing small details…

“John, what is the dimmest star you can see with the naked eye?” 

“Well, that’s easy’”, said John, “it’s Alcor”.

Oh, that sounded nice! Alcor. Perfect, just a quick search to check that the name wasn’t already taken and… well, as those of you who have ever considered cryo-preserving your head after death must know, the name was indeed taken. Luckily, as Paul and Tanner weren’t sure if they should feel more disappointed or amused by this, it turned out that John had more to say about Alcor. John told Paul everything about Alcor’s brighter companion Mizar, the middle star of the Big Dipper’s handle. John talked about how the two stars look so close together in the sky that in the past they had been used as a test of people’s eyesight. Ok, that was it: a reminder of an ancient astronomy counterpart of a  resolution target, enclosed in a name suggested by his brother, having nothing to do with cryo-preservation of heads. Paul just couldn’t ask for more. 

And this is how the Tilt’s company became Mizar Imaging.