Friday, March 11, 2011

Measuring Your Nerd Quotient

How many of you have given a pet a nerdy name connected somehow to an academic passion of yours? For example, if you are a scientist, do you now -- or have you ever -- own(ed) a pet named for a famous scientist, a planet, a subatomic particle, a piece of lab equipment, a mineral etc.?

I must admit that I have done this on at least 3 occasions in my life.

Have you ever given a nerdy name to a pet?
Yes
No and I never would
No but I want to
pollcode.com free polls
And here is one for the hard-core nerds: Have you ever given a human child a name connected somehow to an academic passion of yours?

I have not done this, having passed up my one opportunity to do so, but I know people who have done this.

Have you ever given a nerdy name to a child?
Yes
No and I never would
No but I want to
pollcode.com free polls
In the comments, please provide the data: names, species, explanations, rationalizations, discussion of consequences..

74 comments:

PhysicsUndergrad said...

I have never given a pet a nerdy name, but my electronics are all named for elementary particles or particle-related phenomena. There's antisquark, the iPod, Hadron, the desktop, Neutron, the hard drive, and eigenstate, a VM run on the desktop. Oh, and neutrino, the flash drive -- although that was perhaps misnamed, as it interacts with *everything*.

Anonymous said...

We discovered a litter of tiny abandoned 4-week-old stray kittens in our backyard last summer... and promptly named them Mozilla, Firefox, Snow Leopard, Opera, and Lestat (ok, the last one kept biting the others, so we had to break with the trend :P). Snow Leopard really looked like a snow leopard, and Opera was black with a little white bib... and the rest of the names just followed. Needless to say, my husband and I are both computational chemists/biochemists. We had a party for our labs, and they all came over and wanted to know the kittens' names, and then cracked up when they heard them. :)

Dr. Confused said...

I have not done this, but relatives of mine (both trained in physics) named their daughter Tesla. It does sound pretty, but I think it's a slightly odd name.

Anonymous said...

It's not totally nerdy in the scientific sense but it was after a literary legend of a detective for a kid...though it's more in hope of him growing up to be like his namesake in whatever he chose to do.

Anonymous said...

My daughter is named after a famous female scientist. It is a nice name too and doesn't immediately sound nerdy, so I don't know if that counts.

Eilat said...

My husband (not the scientist) suggested we name our (at the time) unborn daughter "Quasar", but spell it QSO. We didnt.

Morgan Jackson said...

I'm currently trying to convince my wife that Darwin would be a great name for one of our future children. We'll see when the time comes whether I can persuade her...

Human #1 said...

Named my dog Muon. When we were going to pick her up, we were trying to think of the nerdiest name we could that still sounded good.
Results: learned what a muon actually is and how to pronounce it from parents and physicists. A few people laugh. Most people can't figure out how to pronounce it and don't know what it is.

Also, her collar is blue because we didn't like the black,purple, or red choices of the same inexpensive collar, so everyone thinks she's a boy.

Dr. Zeek said...

I had a cat "we" named Schrodinger because, well, I thought it was cool. My husband failed to appreciate how cool it actually was and called the cat "Dinger".

Anonymous said...

I have named various small pets (ie hamsters, rabbits, fish, turtles) after epic scientists: Newton, Darwin, Galileo, etc. My two favourites are Copernicus and Archimedes.

Jessica said...

I have a Tesla (dog) and Helix (cat). Friends have an Edison. The dog club I train with has a Darwin, an Einstein, and a Faraday. I guess our local nerd quotient is pretty high. :)

Anonymous said...

We had a cat poster that was Schrodinger the 2-dimensional cat! I'd never do that to a person though.

Kristin said...

I love nerdy names! We've named all our computers after scientists (Newton, Sagan, etc). A year ago we got a black kitten, so I wanted to name him after an astronomer, but he also needed to have a name (or nickname) that ended in i or y, to match the other cats. So I named him Ari, short for Aristotle.

I have a baby boy, and while we did give him a normal name (i.e., we didn't name him after anything or anyone), before we knew the gender I had a very elaborate plan: Our last name begins with a C. If it was a girl, we would give her names such that her initials would be EMC. 20+ years from now, she would marry a boy who's last name also began with a C, so she could be EMC^2.

Anonymous said...

I am an ornithologist and I named my cat Drake(a male duck) and I am pregnant right now and my favorite name for a boy is Charles (after Darwin) but my husband is having none of it (Though as a journalist he suggested Clark after Clark Kent)

Anonymous said...

I wanted to get an English Bulldog and name it Winston. Then I thought that would be too cliche, so instead I'd name it John Churchill, First Duke of Marlborough, and call it Marlborough.

It's not sciencey, but surely that counts as nerdy...

Hypatia's Ghost said...

A very small tortoise who looked so old and wise that I named him Aristotle. This was before grad school though.

I would like to name a female child Zooxanthellae. (Photosynthetic endosymbionts in coral.) I have been told by my domestic partner in crime that this is not allowed.

But come on, a Z and an X in the same name? How much cooler can you get?

KaeleyAnne said...

I had Alpha and Gamma the betta fish and our cat's name is the Russian word for "cat" (my husband studies Russian politics). We were originally planning on naming a cat after a monster in an MMO that we play, but the name didn't suit the cat that we chose from the shelter.

We're trying to come up with a baby girl's name right now. There are so many possibilities for nerdiness to sneak in. :)

Anonymous said...

It is unlikely that my spouse would allow anything openly nerdy, like Tesla, Darwin or Encyclopedia Brown. Regular names with hidden nerd meanings are ok. Something like Maxwell would work well.

Nick Dvoracek said...

I'm a font geek, so I guess my cat's Baskerville and Garamond fall into this category.
Had a cat named Reality once but I'm not sure that's geeky or accurately dates when we got her.

Cheryl said...

two beta fish named Jacques and Jean-Michel (Cousteau) and two hamsters named Marie and Pierre (Curie).

I have a friend named Atom (both parents are scientists) and another friend (non-scientist) who named her first daugther Tesla

Anonymous said...

During my time as an undergrad geologist, I had three pet rats (yes rats) named Mawson, Amundsen, and Drake, after the explorers.

And as a bit of an art geek, I also had a pet whose full name was "Francis Bacon The Painter" (not to be confused with any other Francis Bacon). I currently have a cat named Zdzislaw Beksinski.

Bone Girl said...

Depends on how closely you define a name connected to your nerdy passion. My cats are Lethe (river of forgetfulness in the underworld in Greek mythology) and Pilosis (Latin for "fluffy"), so that's a "yes" for the pets question. My daughter is Cecilia Livia (both Roman names - the first a famous family and the second emperor Augustus' mother), so I also gave a "yes" for the children question. Her name is inspired by my work in Roman bioarchaeology, but both are completely "normal" names too.

Anonymous said...

Do some of these commenters know the same people or are there lots of little girls named Tesla running around?

Anonymous said...

Be sure to bring her (or them) to Niagara Falls to see the statue of Nikola Tesla there.

Anonymous said...

When my partner and I got two cats, I named one after Emmy Noether and he named the other after Jim Blinn.

Anonymous said...

When I was pregnant, I called my fetus epsilon. (In fact, epsilon^n with n=numbers of weeks left of pregnancy, so that he was born when he became epsilon^0=1)

He's now named after a couple of big names of the Renaissance that don't sound nerdy.

If I have another child, the fetus will definitely be delta.

lady quantum said...

One of my friends named her cats two names that sound innocuous and cute if you just pronounce them, but are in reality super nerdy.

You might assume they're called "Jewel" and "Evee," but it's really "Joule" and "eV."

She is one of my favorite people sometimes.

Anonymous said...

I know a family with two daughters: Adenine and Tesla.

I think both are pretty names, and subtle enough that non-scientists appear to be none-the-wiser.

Anonymous said...

I have had cats with punny names (Peri and Winkle, then Winkle and Nudj, as in "Wink-wink, nudge-nudge, know what I mean?"), literary goldfish (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern; they died), currently have several cats named after cellists (I'm a lapsed cello player), and my husband and I have a large family of imaginary children with terribly scarring names. Macoma (after Macoma balthica, a tiny clam) is the most normal. The worst would be the twins, Brainerd and Bugless; when calling them in for supper the risk would of course be to call them Brainless and Buggered... and this is why a friend of mine said, "I think it's actually a very good thing you don't have children..."

Anonymous said...

I'm an oceanographer and a large number of my colleagues have chosen aquatically inspired names for their children (e.g. Saylor, Kai, Marina, etc.). If our child had been a girl, her middle name would have been inspired by the ocean.

Anonymous said...

My wife is an English professor and our two daughters have middle names taken from famous American women authors. Does that count?

All our cats have been named mathematically though ...

bonnie said...

My husband is a beer brewing nerd, so our dog is named Barley.

shwu said...

We named one of our cats Beaker, but it's a degree less nerdy (or more?) because she's named after the Muppet, who is named after the piece of lab equipment. (her main mode of communication is through "meeps" and "meee?"s)

Anonymous said...

My daughters are named after Star Trek characters...Natasha (Yar - TNG) and Kira (Nerys - DS9)

Lynne said...

@shwu: I have a Basset Hound named Beaker! Also after the scientist Muppet...

funkdoctorx said...

My wife and I don't have children yet, but one of our continuing debates is what to name our first boy. I love a Greek name after one of the first philosophers (I'm not giving it up just yet!) but she's not too keen on it...yet (I've only been trying for about 5 years!)...

Anonymous said...

I'm a Classics professor with an ancient medicine subspecialty, and my cats are Athena Nike and Publius Cornelius Scipio. My engineer husband and I have decided to name the next cat 'Entropy'. I may end up with a kid named Hypatia, but I expect the husband to exercise his veto.

It doesn't fit quite as well, but my electronics are named with Tolkien references: My desktop is Menegroth, my ipod is Maglor, my big laptop is Palantir, my mini laptop is Shadowfax, but my Kindle in a departure from the theme is the Mousaion (AKA the library at Alexandria).

Anonymous said...

I never really realized how nerdy our son's name is until now. My husband and I are both big nerds though, so I guess it's to be expected. His first name is a mineral (Jasper, which is not that abnormal for a name, but I did pick it because it's a mineral), middle name is a scientist (Edison).

Anonymous said...

Anonymous above: Let's hope that if your son Edison does happen to meet one of the Tesla girls, and marry each other, they won't name their kids AC/DC.

Anonymous said...

on the faculty here we had an evolutionary geneticist with a 3year old boy named Mendal...

Anonymous said...

I am an evolutionary biologist and we name our (wild, individually recognizable) study subjects. I have a Darwin, as well as some Shakepeare inspired names, Greek gods, random books I happen to read.

Anonymous said...

My mother (BA in physics & MSc in ME) who worked for the military as a civilian managed to have her children's initials be a unit of energy & a common army weapon. Nerdy.

Murr Brewster said...

As a herpetologist, I'd always wanted to name my daughter Newt. Fortunately, I never had a daughter, and Gingrich totally destroyed it anyway.

Lizi said...

I will have a little grey cat and call her Yokie... short for jökulhlaup.

Anonymous said...

The mineral molybdenite was nicknamed "moly" by miners, is gray, and is used as a lubricant.

So when we adopted a gray cat who liked to squeeze herself into tight spaces, she had to be named Moly.

Her brother is named Snowball. Yes he is all black, and yes he is named after the cat(s) in the Simpsons.

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

I've had cats named for Scottish kings, a famed cat-companion, and the region formerly known as Cheshire. Back when I thought I might one day reproduce, I fancied the name Radegonde (a Merovingian queen) for a daughter, and even had the boyfriend of the time talked into it. I'm really a lit person but my nerd-names tend to be historical.

unlikelygrad said...

It was only a joke, but when I was expecting my first son, my husband (a software engineer) told his mother that he was going to name him "Pascal C Unlikely" after his two favorite computer languages.

When my #4 son was born, it took us some time to come up with a name for him, as we'd exhausted our favorite boys' names by then. Finally we dug through the family genealogy and picked out a somewhat unusual first and middle name with the same ethnic background as the last name. When we announced what we'd called him, my nerdy sister said, "Oh! You've named him after (famous scientist of same ethnicity)!" I didn't think I'd ever heard that scientist's first name before, so I looked him up, and she was right, dang it!

Anonymous said...

I was trained in classical music and named my cat 'Presto' after the tempo. People are disappointed that my other cat is not named 'Change-o'...

Anonymous said...

We had two sugar gliders that we named Soleil and Noid, as in solenoid. It helped that Soleil did indeed have a sunny personality, whereas Noid was constantly annoyed.

I am pushing hard for the name Sagan as a baby name (either girl or boy), but the SO prefers Carl so as to be more subtly nerdy.

Jim H said...

'Aufwuchs' is the German word for the biofilms that grow on surfaces in aquatic ecosystems (rocks, plants, etc.), and would be an epic name for a dog since it is also vaguely onomatopoieic. Sadly, I don't have a dog upon whom I can bestow this name, but plans are brewing. Not sure I could justify giving a child the same name

Anonymous said...

Named my first cat Spatzle, the name of the ligand for the receptor I worked on as a grad student, but also more commonly known as a German noodle.

Anonymous said...

A good friend (computer scientist) used to have two lovely goldfish named "Is-A" and "Has-A", who shared a bowl with an ugly slime-eating catfish named "Is-Implemented-In-Terms-Of".

Siz said...

I've had many a pet as I am a die hard animal lover. My current cats' names are: Fatty, Handsome, and White Brother. Dog's name is Mowgli, although he's a shelter puppy so I didn't want to change it and confuse him.

Anonymous said...

I have an entirely black horse named 'Singularity'. All of my money seems to disappear when she's nearby.

tim saucer said...

I pronounce my son Ian's name Ion, since he is such a positive influence on my life. I know, it's horrible.

Anonymous said...

All my computers are named for chemical elements -- over the years I've had carbon, osmium (it was a very *heavy* laptop), helium, neon, argon, nitrogen, and oxygen.

I named a cat "Ellie" after the child-prodigy heroine of Carl Sagan's novel "Contact" (later made into a movie, with Jodie Foster playing the heroine). Alas, while a sweet cat, Ellie turned out to be one of the least intelligent quadrupeds since the later dinosaurs -- eg she was 8 years old before she figured out how to open a door with her paw. :)

soniahs said...

I have a rabbit named Terpsinoe, after a diatom genus. My sister has since one-upped me in the pop-culture nerd level by naming her cats Gandalf (the gray cat, of course) and Tiberius (as in James T. Kirk). But I maintain that diatoms are nerdier than Trek or Tolkien.

Anonymous said...

We did once have a girl called Chiral apply for a UG chemistry degree in our department. Unfortunately we weren't sure she would fit in.

Skeptical said...

I have a cat named Sagan, but it was a toss-up between Carl Sagan and Rosalind Franklin ("Frankie"). Maybe I should save that one for future kids?

Anonymous said...

The chair of my bio department *claimed* his dog was named "Darwin" by his kids against his will...

Anonymous said...

My wife is a botanist and I am a native plant fanatic, so both of our girls got flower names--Rose and Lily, not Houstonia and Senecio, so its not obvious. If we had boys, the joke was they would be named after birds. We had my sister-in-law convinced we were vacillating between Nuthatch and Woodpecker, but in fact Robin was the only one in contention. Friends of ours have girls named Wren and Grace (Grace's warbler)

Mark P

Anonymous said...

One of my cats is named after the father of insect physiology, Vincent Brian Wigglesworth- we call him Wigsey.

My husband wouldn't let me go overly geeky with our daughter's name, but I totally would have done it.

Quark and Pion's mom said...

I have two dogs, they are both named after subatomic particles (related to my PhD and postdoctoral research). At first I thought it was cute, but now after several years of having to explain on a near-daily basis to complete strangers (I take my dogs out into the world daily for exercise and socialization) how to pronounce their names let alone what they mean and why I named them that, it's getting tiring. yet, I can't imagine my dogs with any other ordinary name. It seems that among the non-academic population, giving pets human names is the norm these days.

Anonymous said...

from these comments, Tesla and Darwin seem to be pretty common names...not very original...

Anonymous said...

My first pet is a cat named Magnolia, and I planned to name all future animals/kids in a nerdy way... until I adopted a second cat with my future husband, and he's a basketball nut so we named the cat Carmelo (Anthony).

I wanted to give our kids ecology/nature related names, but my last name is now Green. Everything sounded WAY too nerdy with green following it...

Fern Green
Robin Green, etc
even Leif Green (irish in the family) was too much.

open for suggestions though, if someone can think of something that works :)

Quark and Pion's mom said...

...I forgot to add the numerous occasions for amusement their names provide (they are dogs)

my husband and I discuss their "energy levels" (especially when they were puppies)...or their "excited states" (like when asked if they want to go for a walk)...their "collisions" (when rough housing with each other or other dogs)..or "spin states" (which direction they are turning when chasing their tails)

Other people at the dog park give us weird looks.

did my nerd quotient just go up an order of magnitude?

Anonymous said...

An astronomer friend of mine has 3 daughters named Stella, Aurora, and Selena; another astronomer friend has a son with the middle name Orion.

A. Alexandra said...

soo..I really want to name one of my children Tesla. Thats a nice name.

Anonymous said...

11:30:00 AM,

How about Soylent?

New prof in new India said...

A few days ago, in a class on Indian philosophy, I learnt that a popular name in India "Nachiketa" means "the one who does not know but seeks to know". If I were to have a child, I think I would give it this name. The nice thing is that it works for both boys and girls.

Anonymous said...

I have thought about potential girls names (though that's a long way off for me). Ruby and Kali, after the elements I'm working on for my PhD (Rubidium and Potassium/Kalium), though they both have other meanings too, so maybe it wouldn't be so obvious!

I also like Luke as a boys name (as in Skywalker), though it means "onion" in my native language.

Anonymous said...

Plant genera seem to be pretty popular for first or middle names of human offspring among my ecology peers in grad school.

Anonymous said...

A Dog called BIOS.

Anonymous said...

I am an invertebrate zoologist, and, having no pets, name my external hard drives. As of now I've got Conus, Chlamus, Haliotis and Glaucus