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With the growth in the expense and complexity of experimental equipment in many fields (astronomical instruments and accelerators in particle physics are two examples) and increasing constraints on research budgets, the need for mechanisms that will help researchers to share such scarce and costly resources has become ever more pressing. The collaboratory concept has developed in the nineties as a method that may enable researchers to work together on projects even though they might be thousands of miles apart. Using information technology, they would be able to schedule and set up experiments, control instruments remotely, share data, and communicate with each other in a “laboratory without walls”. The term seems to have been coined by Professor William Wulf of the University of Virginia in an unpublished paper in 1989 as a blend of collaboration and laboratory. The term has not appeared much in the UK, perhaps in part because the British pronunciation of laboratory on its second syllable makes the blend less felicitous.

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.

Page created 19 Apr 1997