I kind of thought that “To name is to define” is a quote from someone, but if so then Wikiquote has let me down, as I can’t find it. I am writing a grant proposal and so need to make my proposed research look ground breaking, novel, important, etc, etc. Getting funding is competitive, the odds fluctuate but roughly speaking between 1 in 5 and 1 in 10 proposals get funded. The rest get nothing – these are not great odds.
In the proposal I have 6 pages to convince the fellow scientists who will referee it that I will do something interesting and important. So today I worked on naming the structures I want to study. I came up with FDLDs, which is not very catchy. Sadly the adjectives that describe the things I am interested in all start with consonants, which is a bit of a blow to my chances of coming up with a catchy acronym.
FDLD stands for functional driven liquid domains. This is descriptive, they perform useful functions (and examples of these are doing so inside your body right now). They are also driven, which here is a technical word meaning they burn fuel to do work. Some of the calories you ate for breakfast will go on maintaining these structures inside you. They are also liquid like, i.e., they flow like water. See an earlier post. And they are domains, they are about 10 to 1000 nanometres across.
So, despite the rather clumsy name I think I am stuck with FDLD. And once I had named them and defined the name, they did seem a bit more real to me, they seemed to come into focus a bit. I hope the referees of the proposal agree. I think naming something really does help to define it. Names can be important.