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NuSphere? Where did we get that name?

Actually, the NuSphere name has a great deal of history in it...

The name reflects a hybrid derived from two concepts:

  1. The new business model associated with open source software.
  2. The open source noosphere.

Taken literally, this hybridization could result in the name "new gnu noosphere," which we transformed into just NuSphere. Noosphere is an obscure word from biology academia with pronunciation that falls somewhere between "know"+"sphere" and "knew"+"sphere," depending on your source.

The Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary leans towards the "know" pronunciation, and is defined on the web as:

Main Entry: noo?sphere
Pronunciation: 'nO-&-"sfir
Etymology: International Scientific Vocabulary noo- mind (from Greek noos, nous) + sphere sphere
Date: 1945
Definition: the sphere of human consciousness and mental activity especially in regard to its influence on the biosphere and in relation to evolution.

The word noosphere was popularized by French geologist/paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in his writing titled, "The Phenomenon of Man."

We are not sure when Noosphere first appeared in a software context, but one we like is "Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and the Emergence of Machina Sapiens," Artificial Intelligence published April 27, 1997. Teilhard's noosphere provides a biological and evolutionary framework for predicting and explaining the emergence of a genuine non-human intelligence.

The word is also used in the open source world by Eric Raymond in his "The Cathedral and Bazaar" analysis of how, and why, the Linux development model works. This paper was the first of three on the ecology of open source software. The second was "Homesteading the Noosphere," and the third was "The Magic Cauldron." This collection of papers is published as a book titled, "The Cathederal and the Bazaar." The book also addresses the notion that the open source movement and the hacker are an evolution in human thinking.

In "Homesteading the Noosphere," Raymond writes:

"The 'noosphere' of his paper's title is the territory of ideas, the space of all possible thoughts. What we see implied in hacker ownership customs is a Lockean theory of property rights in one subset of the noosphere, the space of all programs. Hence `homesteading the noosphere,' which is what every founder of a new open source project does."

Nu is also the 13th letter of the Greek alphabet. The symbol for nu, looks like a lowercase "v," and also happens to be the scientific symbol for a neutrino?the smallest atomic particle that has no mass. NuSphere took the obvious approach of combining the Greek letter Nu taken from "noo" and a sphere to come up with our distinctive logo:


One of our favorite explanations is that nusphere is the "Gnu" sphere without the "gee!" and speaks to the maturing of the open source world. Gnu or GNU stands for GNU's Not Unix, a name the Free Software Foundation (FSF) came up with for their free version of a UNIX-like operating system that has been realized as Linux.

The Encyclopedia Britannica notes that Nu, or Nun is the oldest of the ancient Egyptian gods and father of Re, the sun god. Nun's name means "water."

We are confident that there are other historical and otherwise interesting facts about NuSphere and the history behind the name that we do not know about. Rest assured that none of them played any role in our selecting the name, but if you would like to share your facts with us, use this form to contact us. Perhaps your knowledge will will make it on to this page.

Since posting this page, the following contributions have been made:

Submitted: 25-Jan 2001
Nu. Nu is the robotics shorthand for a neural artificial neuron. (Yes, it sounds redundant, but we also write Nv for a nervous artificial neuron).