For the Natural and Digital Sciences

The origin and meaning of LABORES’ name and logo

In General information on 01/04/2011 at 9:27 pm

LABORES is an acronym for Laboratoire de Recherche Scientifique but it also evokes the root of words like laboratoire itself (laboratory in English). “Lab” and “Labo” are the abbreviations of laboratory in English and French respectively.

The words laboratory and laboratoire derive from the medieval Latin word laboratorium which in turn derives from the Latin laborare, meaning to labour (to labor in American English) or travailler in French.

The word labour in English and, more significantly, the word laboratory can be linguistically defined as internationalisms, words that occur in several languages and have the same or a similar meaning and etymology. For example, labor in Spanish has the same meaning as it does in English and in Latin. In Italian, the word is lavoro, while in other languages like French, words such as laboratoire derive from the original Latin laborare with the connotation of performing hard work.

Variations of the words Laboratory, Research and Scientific, which go into the making of the acronym LABORES, have the same meaning in several modern Indo-European languages. Research, for example, from the Old French cerchier (to search), has the same root and meaning in English, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Dutch, among others.

LABORES also turns out to be the plural form of labor, the noun in Spanish meaning work or homework, something like devoirs or tâches in French, evidently from the same Latin root connected to the word laboratory.

On the other hand, the logo of LABORES (the blue square cells) is a specific pattern of a cellular automaton known as the Game of Life as devised by John Conway. The configuration is catalogued as a “pulsar” and is the most common period 3 oscillator of the Game of Life. This kind of configurations are the kind of persistent emergent structures that make the Game of Life to be able of Turing universal computation, which is a representation of one of the research topics LABORES cares more about.

On your next visit to Paris, you may want to visit one of the first examples of a modern laboratory, Lavoisier’s Laboratory at the Musée des Arts et Métiers.

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