Mouse has a kinky-waltzer. Drosophila has a bride of sevenless. Yeast has a Wee-1. Gene and protein names often are based on the flamboyant, the descriptive, and the intentionally obscure. For many researchers, naming their discovery may be a rare opportunity to imbue their science with creativity. (See list on page 6 for origins of these names.)

NOMEN-CLUTTER: Multiple names for genes and gene products causes confusion, says University of Alberta's Lawrence Puente.

But creativity plus competition can equal confusion, says Lawrence Puente, a molecular biologist at the University of Alberta in Canada. "There are multiple names for the same things, the same names for different things, names that are misleading, and names that are just plain hard to remember. There's no simple answer to this problem, and consequently many different opinions on what the best nomenclature method would be."

Competition and a quicker pace of...

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