Batman and Robin's new secret hideout: DARPA's labs

The comic-book crimefighters are the latest incarnation of creative government acronyms

When you need to understand the relationship between biological systems and the spatial-temporal universe, send up the Bat-signal and wait for the dynamic duo, BaTMAN and RoBIN.

The boffins at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) may be planning to study the science in the proposed new programs, but the wonks who devise acronyms -- we think it's a super-secret bureau nestled in the deep recesses of a secret agency -- must have worked overtime on the names.

BaTMAN stands for Biochronicity and Temporal Mechanisms Arising in Nature; RoBIN is Robustness of Biologically-Inspired Networks. They are both proposed projects at the moment, but DARPA's Defense Sciences Office has isseud solicitations for both, seeking ideas. The combined goal of BaTMAN and RoBIN, should DARPA go forward with them, is to study the relationship of biological systems to "the spatio-temporal universe" (BaTMAN) and to apply biological principles to design more robust programs and machines (RoBIN.)


Solicitation documents: BaTMAN | RoBIN


The science is fascinating, but the acronyms are even better. As Kate Drummond and Noah Schactman point out in Wired.com's Danger Room blog, the military also has given us RESURRECT (REstoring SURvivability by REConstructing Trauma), NIRVANA (Non-Ionizing Radiation Vision for A New Army) and DISCO (Defense Industrial Security Clearance Office), among others.

The military isn't the only source for creative acronyms, though. Think of the General Services Administration's tortured ANSWER, which the agency derived by creatively truncating the word "and" in Applications ’N Support for Widely-diverse End-user Requirements. Or NASA's SEWP (which originally stood for Scientific and Engineering Workstation Procurement but now means Solutions for Enterprise-wide Procurement), which sports a logo of a duck (duck soup, get it?)

What are some bizarre, funny or just plain weird acronyms you've encountered? Tell us in the comments.

 

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

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