Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Stuff Named After Frank Zappa

A jellyfish, Phialella Zappai.
Prof Ferdinando Boero went to California for two reasons: to study the ecology and taxonomy of the local jellyfish and to meet Frank Zappa. He achieved both when he discovered a previously unknown jellyfish and wrote to FZ asking if it was OK to name it after him, and FZ invited Ferdinando to stay for the weekend.

A gene, ZapA (Proteus mirabilis)
A bacterium that is often found in soil, water, and the intestinal tract of many mammals, including humans . . . [It] is not a common cause of urinary tract infection . . . [but] infects a much higher proportion of patients with complicated urinary tracts, that is, those with functional or anatomical abnormalities or with chronic instrumentation, such as long-term urinary catheterization." Boffin Bob Belas came up with the cunning idea of calling this ZapA (pronounced 'Zappa'), ensuring that FZ's name would be forever immortalised in the world of very small things, as well as very large. In the acknowledgements section of the paper , it says: "We especially thank the late Frank Zappa for inspiration and assistance with genetic nomenclature."

An amphibious fish, Zappa confluentus
Ed Murdy, a post-doctoral fellow studying mudskippers, looked again at pseudapocryptes confluentus fish on the banks of the Fly River at Madiri, about 74km upriver from Toro Pass, Papua New Guinea, and came to the conclusion that this fish was no pseudapocryptes. It was so different, in fact, that it needed a new generic name all to itself and Ed had to choose it. The name he chose was Zappa confluentus because he liked his music,
his politics and principles, and the name itself is a good one for scientific nomenclature.

A pre-historic mollusc, Amaurotoma zappa
This shellfish lived and died some 300 million years ago in the mountains of Clark County, Nevada, about 60 miles north east of Las Vegas. specimens of the long-extinct mollusc were collected. The description of Amaurotoma zappa is long and complex, involving such technical terms as 'whorl', 'protoconch' and 'sutural ramp'; 'very thin parietal inductura’; ‘inner lip slightly reflexed around umbilicus’; ‘apertural lip crenulated’.

A spider, Pachygnatha zappa
In 1981 and 1983 Belgian biologists from the Rijksuniversiteit Gent organized two expeditions to Mount Cameroon and neighbouring ranges. In 1994 Robert Bosmans and Jan Bosselaers revealed the species they named pachygnatha zappa. This species epithet is given in honour of the twentieth century composer Frank Zappa (1941-1993), well known for both his serious and commercial music. The dark grey mark on the ventral side of the abdomen of the female of this species strikingly resembles the artist's legendary moustache .

A planet, zappafrank
Discovered on May 11th, 1980, by Czech astronomer L. Brozek at Klet Observatory Named in memory of Frank Zappa (1940-1993), rock musician and composer of innovative contemporary symphonic, chamber and electronic music. Zappa was an eclectic, self-trained artist and composer with incredible energy and a biting wit and his music transcends the usual music barriers. Before 1989 he was regarded as a symbol of democracy and freedom by many people in Czechoslovakia .

A Street in Berlin, Frank-Zappa-Strasse
On the eastern outskirts of Berlin amid empty industrial buildings in what was communist East Germany. The street is home to Orwo Haus , a former Communist-era film factory that now provides practice studios for more than 160 bands. Musicians at Orwo Haus campaigned for two years to have the street's name changed. Eighteen bands, including the tribute band Sheik Yerbouti , celebrated the renaming with an all-night concert for more than 2,800 people .

Brewers Lagunitas started a series of specialty seasonal beers named after early albums of Frank Zappa, each released on the 40th anniversary of the original album.
Freak Out! Ale - "a bright copper colour with a thick, soapy-foamy head and a very citric hoppy nose." (from
Absolutely Free (also called Kill Ugly Radio) - "Very fruity in its aroma, stinking pleasantly of apricot" (from
We're Only In It For the Money - "sweet and yeasty with traces of spicy fruit, cinnamon, apples, grapes" (from
Lumpy Gravy - "Very rich and robust flavour with hints of smoke. Nutty characteristics linger throughout and bring a nice sweetness" (from
Cruisin' With Rueben and the Jets - "Bitter, unsweetened coffee, roasted malt and a little bit of liquorice and black pepper [taste]" (from

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