A Backronym for Euclid?

The Euclid Satellite

As a fully paid-up member of the Campaign for the Rejection of Acronymic Practices I was pleased to see the top brass in the Euclid Consortium issue instructions that encourage authors to limit their use of acronyms in official technical documents. Acronyms are widely used in the names of astronomical instruments and surveys. Take BOOMERanG (Balloon Observations Of Millimetric Extragalactic Radiation And Geophysics) and HIPPARCOS (HIgh Precision PARallax COllecting Satellite) to name just two. A much longer list can be found here.

I’m very pleased that the name of the European Space Agency’s Euclid mission is not an acronym. It is actually named after Euclid the Greek mathematician widely regarded as the father of geometry. Quite a few people who have asked me have been surprised that Euclid is not an acronym so I thought it might be fun to challenge my readers – both of them – to construct an appropriate backronym i.e. an acronym formed by expanding the name Euclid into the words of a phrase describing the Euclid mission. The best I’ve seen so far is:

Exploring the Universe with Cosmic Lensing to Identify Dark energy

But Euclid doesn’t just use Cosmic Lensing so I don’t think it’s entirely satisfactory. Anyway, your suggestions are welcome via the box below.

While you’re thinking, here is the best poetic description I have found (from Edna St Vincent Millay):

Euclid alone has looked on Beauty bare. 
Let all who prate of Beauty hold their peace,
And lay them prone upon the earth and cease
To ponder on themselves, the while they stare
At nothing, intricately drawn nowhere
In shapes of shifting lineage...

8 Responses to “A Backronym for Euclid?”

  1. Jarle Brinchmann Says:

    Since I have fought (at times futilely) against people writing EUCLID I am here firmly colliding with myself, but a slight variation of your backronym is::

    Exploring the Universe with Clustering and Lensing to Illuminate the Dark sector

    or if one is a contrarian:

    Eschewing Understood Cosmology Looks Increasingly Delightful

  2. Bryn Jones Says:

    The European Universal Cosmological Laboratory for Inspiring Data.

    Or perhaps not.

  3. John Peacock Says:

    It must be possible to do something recursive like GNU: Euclid Unusually Can Look Into Darkness

  4. Anton Garrett Says:

    Euclid’s Stoichea (Elements) was a textbook of mathematics used in teaching for something like 23 centuries, and no errors have been found in it. The ancient Greek mathematicians were the first to formulate mathematical theorems as step-by-step proofs from stated axioms. (This feature hugely impressed Chinese court mathematicians when Matteo Ricci’s Jesuit mission went to China.) The Greeks seem also to have been the first to abstract the idea of pure number, eg 2 or 3 as things in themselves rather than 2 or 3 ships in a harbour or 2 or 3 sheep in a field, etc.

    Euclid includes the proof that there are an infinite number of prime numbers, and the proof that if (2^n – 1) is prime (known today as a Mersenne prime; true for n=5, false for n=4) then

    (2^n – 1) * 2^(n-1)

    is a perfect number. His book is in print in English here

    and is discussed copiously in TL Heath’s History of Greek Mathematics. Always worth mentioning in any comment about the history of mathematics is John Stillwell’s book Mathematics and its History which takes the history of the subject area by area within mathematics, rather than being a march through time as in Boyer’s history and Morris Kline’s.

    • Not directly relevant but in the Irish language there are three different numbering systems, depending on whether you are counting things or people or numbers themselves. I wonder if the last is a more recent development in Celtic languages than the others?

  5. Everyone Understands Constant Lambda Is Dumb?

  6. […] recent post pointing out that the name of the space mission Euclid is not formed as an acronym but is an homage […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: