Feeds

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

Engineer? Computer scientist? Biologist? You tell us

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

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. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Thirteen Astonishing True Facts You Never Knew About SCREWS
Threaderick the Great! And YES, we asked the Arapaho
NSA man: 'Tell me about your Turkish connections'
Spooks ask Dabbsy to suggest a nice hotel with pool
Russia sends SEX-CRAZED GECKOS to SPAAAAACE!
In space... no one can hear you're green...
Indian techies-in-training face down MAN-EATING LEOPARD - and WIN
Big cat causes big trouble at Mumbai college
Too rich for an iPhone 6? How about a gold-plated Brikk?
Not lobbed at your head, silly – a bling phone
Carlos: Slim your working week to just three days of toil
'Midas World' vision suggests you retire later, watch more tellie and buy more stuff
Yahoo! Japan! launches! service! for! the! dead!
If you're reading this email, I am no longer alive
Plucky Rockall podule man back on (proper) dry land
Bold, barmy Brit adventurer Nick Hancock escapes North Atlantic islet
Motorist 'thought car had caught fire' as Adele track came on stereo
'FIRE' caption on dashboard prompts dunderheaded hard shoulder halt
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.