Thursday, March 10, 2011


Scientists like to use acronyms as often as they can. It makes them sound like they know even more than they actually do (an impressive feat, no doubt). After all, if there's so little space left in your brain that you need to use only the first letters of words then either your brain is very full or very small. Or both.

Of course, I'm being a little unkind. It is often just easier and faster to remember things as acronyms, but their use can lead to confusion.

For example, I sent an email to one of my lecturers a few weeks ago. I was asking about Summer work and attached a copy of my CV. He replied promptly, letting me know what was available and suggesting that I meet with a couple of people to get more details. He added a postscript.

"P.S: Didn't know you belonged to the secret fellowship of LiaL ..."

LiaL? What on Earth is LiaL? I had no idea, so I was both confused and worried. Had I accidentally lied to him? I read back over my email, LiaL didn't feature. No words that could make up LiaL featured.

I turned to google. Google was not useful, Lial is a name of a person and the name of a place. It is also used by Legal Informatics at Liverpool, but I definitely hadn't claimed to be involved in that. Also, Lithium Aluminium alloys exist, which wasn't useful either.

Maybe it was code for something weird? Loosely Arranged Indented Lines? Long armed integrated Labradors? Lial? Come on!

I read back over my CV, maybe it was something I'd forgotten about. Right at the bottom I found it, Lab in a Lorry. The volunteer scheme for demonstrating science experiments to school kids. Obviously. Not that it's a "secret fellowship," of course.

Couldn't he have just said so?

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