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Why this place on stack exchange is called "area51"? Is it a special idiom in English for some places where things are being developed? Does 51 have some special meaning besides being just a number?

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Shhh... it's a secret area.... –  dpmguise Jan 19 '11 at 5:37
    
questions about stack exchange, instead of about the designated topic ("english language and usage") belong on meta. –  Ben Voigt Jan 20 '11 at 3:20
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Ben Voigt: "questions about stack exchange, instead of about the designated topic ("english language and usage") belong on meta" - Please re-read this question carefully and you will realize that this question is about the idiom "area 51", which just happens to be also a name used for one site on "Stack Exchange". This is not a question about how that site works. I admit I might have not phrased the title properly - you can edit it if you want - but this question IS in the right place. –  brilliant Jan 20 '11 at 5:04
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3 Answers

up vote 18 down vote accepted

Area 51 is a military base in Southern Nevada often found at the center of UFO stories.

From Wikipedia:

Area 51 is a military base, and a remote detachment of Edwards Air Force Base. ... The intense secrecy surrounding the base, the very existence of which the U.S. government barely acknowledges, has made it the frequent subject of conspiracy theories and a central component to unidentified flying object (UFO) folklore.

As to why StackExchange called that site Area 51?

From the Area51 FAQ, "We like the little aliens."

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Thank you, Borror0!!! –  brilliant Jan 19 '11 at 8:43
    
That's not to mention the films Planet 51 and The 51st State, the latter being also a generic term for places (such as the UK) which might be perceived as becoming subsumed into the all-conquering American culture. In short, whilst not being quite such a significant number as 42, 51 does have considerable cultural resonance. –  FumbleFingers Apr 21 '11 at 15:38
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See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Area_51 for information about Area 51. In a nutshell, it's a humorous reference to a place where strange, secret things happen.

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'Area 51' signifies the 'exclusivity'- in this case a group of people who are 'stakeholders' in shaping projects which may or may not see the light of the day, which are a 'secret' to the outside world until they become 'live' (public).

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Perhaps it should have been called "the skunkworks". –  Dennis Williamson Jan 19 '11 at 19:04
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