ENIGMATIC billionaire and Tesla CEO Elon Musk has, not for the first time this week, sent Twitter into meltdown after he and his partner, the musician Grimes, 32, announced yesterday that the name of their first child is to be X Æ A-12.
Of course, this has led to a list of fairly justifiable questions. These mainly address the legality of the name and how it is pronounced. Musk has offered little in the way of explanation, but said that the mother and baby boy are both “all good”, and posted a photo of the baby with some added face tattoos.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 5, 2020
The announcement has brought out the better side of Twitter, with people making lighthearted jokes more than scorn. One user pointed out that X Æ A-12 Musk gets 91% and an “excellent” rating on a password strength meter, and others have made jokes about the pronunciation.
pronounced X̶̯̩̗̜̳̭͇͔͈̦͍̻̟̰͚̯̜̠̦̃͛̉̋̀̔̓͑̂̆̀̎̂̚̕ͅ ̶̞̱͚̹̩̙̙͕͎̰̬͖̒͗̇̽̅̃͗̇̍̏͐̈͌̐̈́̒̂͑̒͜͠͝Æ̵͕̻̪͕̀̽͑̈́̉͘A̷̡̬̲̩̞̓̿̊̊̾͂́̈͊͆̐̈́̒̐̇̊̿-̶̮͎̥͇͚̟̣̰͎̜͇̼̖͎̖͕̀̍̌̾͊̉̓͐̐̌ͅ1̸̢̥̰̥̬̝̘̬̲̰̳̤̉̿̓̾͊̈́͠ͅͅ2̵̧̢̛̞̳͚̩̰̬͍̱͉͓̻̓̌̀̈́̒̈́̈́̄̄͒͆͛͗̕͜͝͝ ̵͔̝̩̰͎̜͈̥̝̝̘̟͎͔͔̯̂̃̍̆̽̊͗̓́̑͛̍͆̅̊͘͠
— kerplunk (@ellisunderscore) May 5, 2020
California, the state where Musk primarily resides and where it thought that the baby was born, has a few rules about what people can name their children, which is probably wise considering it’s the state home to L.A., and therefore a population of celebs seemingly actively competing with each other to come up with the wildest baby name (see: Pilot Inspektor, Kal-El, Moon Unit).
This means that it’s possible that X Æ A-12 isn’t a legal baby name in California and that the couple’s social media postings are a cryptic clue as to the child’s actual name. Grimes, whose own real name is Claire Elise Boucher, gave a little more insight when she explained the motivations for the couple’s choice of name.
•X, the unknown variable ⚔️
•Æ, my elven spelling of Ai (love &/or Artificial intelligence)
•A-12 = precursor to SR-17 (our favorite aircraft). No weapons, no defenses, just speed. Great in battle, but non-violent 🤍
(A=Archangel, my favorite song)
(⚔️🐁 metal rat)
— ꧁ ༒ Gℜiꪔ⃕es ༒꧂ 🍓🐉🎀 小仙女 (@Grimezsz) May 6, 2020
Some Twitter users have pointed out that Æ is a Nordic ligature pronounced ‘ash’, leading to one prominent theory as to the baby’s possible real name. Others pointed out that Grimes’s explanation of the ligature might point to the name being Xai, which is also an in-use acronym for Explainable Artificial Intelligence — a passion of Musk’s.
Jennifer Moss, CEO of babynames.com, said: “The stance we take when giving advice about naming your child is to see it from the child’s point of view. Is the name going to be a burden on the child? Will people find it difficult to pronounce or while they laugh at it? That directly affects your child’s sense of self, since names are so tied to identity.
“People aren’t sure whether the Musk baby’s name is the actual name filed with the State of California. But if it is the given, legal name, that is unfortunate.”
If X Æ A-12 does turn out to be the baby’s real name, he might grow up to feel a little hard done by considering Musk’s five other children from a previous marriage (one set of twins, one set of triplets, all boys) all have comparatively normal names: Damian, Griffin, Xavier, Saxon and Kai. Emphasis on comparatively.
Musk and Tesla have been no strangers to the media this week, with the electric car company’s founder taking to Twitter to announce that he thought Tesla’s stock price was too high. The resulted in $14bn being wiped off the firm’s value, though it has subsequently rallied. He also tweeted his support for ending the Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown in North America, tweeting “FREE AMERICA NOW”.
Despite his effect on Tesla’s stock price, Musk is reportedly in for a $700m (£567m) payday, as the company has hit its value targets over the last six months. Tesla has been in a bit of a purple patch in the UK, with the Model 3 being the bestselling car in April, although registrations of new cars fell by a staggering 97% overall.
The Tesla supercharger network was found to be the best charging infrastructure in the UK in a study by Auto Express, and there are rumours that the company is looking to make a name for itself in the UK’s domestic energy market. Meanwhile, a team of researchers working with Tesla have devised a hybrid battery that could extend a pure-electric car’s range by 20%.
As Oscar Wilde wrote, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about; on that basis it’s not been a bad month for Elon Musk. Having said that, the entrepreneur is soon to be homeless, having decided to sell most of his physical possessions. Still, being a multi-billionaire with a $700m paycheque on the way must be some comfort.