Feeds

So, what exactly defines a 'boffin'? Speak your brains...

Engineer? Computer scientist? Biologist? You tell us

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The recent protest by computer scientist Yossi Oren of Columbia University that he hadn't been hailed as a boffin here at El Reg prompted some lively debate at Vulture Central as what exactly defines the term.

Some of us, while conceding that scientists such as Oren are indeed clever chaps, felt that his area of expertise lacked certain prerequisites for boffinry, such as a white lab coat and, of course, a pipe.

History records that "boffin" was first used for the kind of people who developed radar, brewed up bouncing bombs or sat smoking their pipes while dreaming up mighter codebreaking machines.

Since then, the term has at times been deployed in a derogatory sense, but has of late been restored to its full glory as an affectionate name for an increasingly wider range of professions.

So, where's the limit? To determine the matter, we're inviting readers to suggest jobs worthy of the title "boffin", and those which most certainly aren't - despite generous journalists' elevation of these lesser beings to the illustrious ranks of boffinry.

When you've spoken your brains, we'll stick up a poll which will ask "Is an X a boffin? Yes/No" for each job. Once the results are in, we'll forward them to the scientists worldwide for guidance as to when it is and is not worthwhile protesting that they haven't been dubbed a "boffin".

So, stick the kettle on, light up a pipe, and give us your thoughts. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Oz carrier Tiger Air takes terror alerts to new heights
Don't doodle, it might cost you your flight
WRISTJOB LOVE BONANZA: justWatch sex app promises blind date hookups
Mankind shuffles into the future, five fingers at a time
Every billionaire needs a PANZER TANK, right? STOP THERE, Paul Allen
Angry Microsoftie hauls auctioneers to court over stalled Pzkw. IV 'deal'
Oi, London thief. We KNOW what you're doing - our PRECRIME system warned us
Aye, shipmate, it be just like that Minority Report
Apple's Mr Havisham: Tim Cook says dead Steve Jobs' office has remained untouched
'I literally think about him every day' says biz baron's old friend
Cops apologise for leaving EXPLOSIVES in suitcase at airport
'Canine training exercise' SNAFU sees woman take home booming baggage
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.