• Question: How do you decide on a new name for something when you discover it?

    Asked by fang17 to Amy, Drew, Julia, Kimberley, Sara on 22 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Amy MacQueen

      Amy MacQueen answered on 20 Jun 2011:

      I really want to call something “Bernard” …but I don’t think you are allowed. There are a lot of rules about naming discoveries now – you are not just allowed to call things after yourself anymore!! 🙂

    • Photo: Julia Griffen

      Julia Griffen answered on 20 Jun 2011:

      I’d love to call some thing the griffen drug.. hehe.. not sure tbh.

    • Photo: Kimberley Bryon

      Kimberley Bryon answered on 20 Jun 2011:

      I tried to name a gene I discovered after me Bry-1 (Bry-one get it!) but my boss said no. In my defense Bry – stood for bloc-related yeast! In worms there are strict naming guidelines and your new name has to be approved by the worm overlord.

    • Photo: Drew Rae

      Drew Rae answered on 20 Jun 2011:

      In my field you can name techniques anything you like. The trick is to have an acronym that is easy to remember but plausible. My favorites are YACC – Yet another Compiler Compiler, and GNU – Gnu’s Not Unix.

    • Photo: Sara Imari Walker

      Sara Imari Walker answered on 22 Jun 2011:

      Hi fang! There are different conventions for different fields. Like for equations and particles I think it is open season – I mean we have elementary particles named quarks! And the kinds of quarks are even sillier – up, down, top, bottom, charm, and strange (actually top and bottom used to be truth and beauty!!). So if I ever get to name an equation or something like that I’ll get to do what I want. I’ve actually made up names already, but nothing that really caught on 😉 However, I know for astronomy for example there are strict regulations from the International Astronomical Union that mandate the names of planetary bodies for example. So if you discover a moon around Uranus, you can’t name it just anything!!