The Hoosierist: Dropping the Ball

Airport solar farms, whistling buses, and the Pacers name. Ask The Hoosierist.

Q: Where did the Indiana Pacers get their name?  
Katherine Y., Indianapolis  

A: The Hoosierist was unsurprised to learn that this tepid moniker was chosen by a committee. Back in 1967, investors convened to decide what to call the team. Based on how things turned out, this gathering must have taken place in a small, overly warm room late on a Friday afternoon. After hours of debate, they arrived at “Pacers.” Mostly because it referenced a pace car, which sort of tied it to the Indy 500. Oh, and one of the club’s investors liked horses, and “pacer” is also an equine term. Thus, Indiana’s team came to be named after a car and a horse. Yet a glance around the NBA shows that things could have turned out worse. Consider the Jazz, whose moniker made sense when the team was in New Orleans, but not so much now that it plays in the most un-jazzy place on earth, Utah.


Q: Could the glare from the solar farms at the airport pose a threat to pilots?  
Pearl C., Carmel  

A: Two solar-panel fields covering 161 acres currently shimmer on the property surrounding Indianapolis International Airport, with another 22 acres coming online this summer. That’s 87,300 panels, contributing about 20 megawatts of juice to the local grid. Interestingly, the power doesn’t serve as some sort of emergency backup supply for the airport. Rather, the IIA simply leased the space for the project to its developers, who sell the current it generates to IPL. The only thing the airport gets out of the arrangement is rent. Though locating a bunch of reflective solar panels near an airport sounds about as bright as putting a vinegar factory next to a baking-soda warehouse, it’s actually quite safe. The panels are a lot less mirror-like than most people think. If they were super-shiny, they’d reflect solar energy away instead of absorbing it. Which is the entire point.


Q: Some of the IndyGo buses make a melodic whistling noise. What gives?  
Edward L., Indianapolis  

A: Pretty as it may be, that whistling means your bus needs work. The vehicle’s radiator, which cools the engine, is made up of metal fins through which coolant solution runs. Sometimes debris kicked up from the street either lodges in these fins or bends them, causing the air passing through the system to make that odd sound. So if the bus in which you’re riding ever starts whistling the theme from The Andy Griffith Show, it’s probably destined for some quality time back at the shop. Visit and let them know.


The HoosieriStat

Percentage of Indiana residents with at least a bachelor’s degree

Which ranks a disappointing 43rd in the country. On the bright side, Kentucky (45th) is worse. But we’ll always be uneducated rubes to those snobs in Massachusetts (1st).


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