The episode: “The Incredible Melting Man,” ep. 704
The riff: Sarcastically riffed by Mike as a very complicated-looking network of dishes and piping attached to a building is shown.
The explanation: The Very Large Array is a huge sequence of 27 separate large-scale radio transmitters/telescopes in the New Mexico desert that together function as one large receiver. It was built in the mid-1970s to aid in research into the mysteries of the universe, including radio galaxies, black holes, pulsars and quasars. In 2011 and 2012, the technology of the dishes was exponentially upgraded and the name was changed to the Karl Guthe Jansky Very Large Array in honor of the pioneering father of radio astronomy. It has been featured in many sci-fi movies such as “Contact,” where it was erroneously implied to be involved in the search for extra terrestrial intelligence.
Novelty factor: I’ve always chuckled at this riff. My inner sci-fi nerd knows all about the Very Large Array, although I was unaware it had been renamed.