by David Bradley

E MC2 number plateIf you're looking for a private vehicle registration plate then the DVLA is the place to register them. You know the kind of thing - so-called Scouse comedian Jimmy Tarbuck allegedly has COM 1C on his Rolls Royce and millionaire "magician" Paul Daniels has MAG 1C - those clever guys. I heard of a few scientists that had personalised number plates too. Anthony Uren told me of his friend with DNA 046 (46 is the number of human chromosomes) and Sandip Ray saw D DNA. Christopher Baxter-Jones knows a British surgeon who allegedly has the number plate B10 PSY and a colleague in the immunotherapy group at a pharma company had had DRB L00D (although that last one seems very unlikely in the UK).

Roger Greenwald points out that there's nothing special about personalising your number plate in the US, you can have what you like: PHOTON, LEPTON, LASER, PHASER, and one of his med school friends had EMT2B. Blake Ratcliff suggested EMC2, EMCSQD, 186386, and NUCLEAR but I don't think he's actually seen these on the roads, just writing a wishlist. Jeffrey Tsao reports that Dr Ramachandran has the plate DIARAMA. His wife's name is Diana, apparently. That said, Jim Parent got in touch to tell me he really does have a Mercedes E55 with the plate E55 MC2. "My wife notes that 'if you need to explain it..................no'," he says. But the E55 is obviously nippy doing 0 to 60mph in 4.2 seconds, although maybe not quite the speed of light.

A few more personalised plates have dropped in via email. Mike Fisher tells me he has "B10 SCE", which is as close to Bio Sci as he could get (the 2nd I is unavailable in the UK registration structure). He also tells of a blood curdling tri to a blood bank in Colorado was a car parked outside had the registration VAMPIRE. I suspect that was the gory wit of the blood bank boss. Pearce Smithwick wrote to tell me that he knows a researcher involved in global climate change issues who has a Toyota Prius with the plate "Model C". Uma Ranjan tells me his plate is KA 05 (for chaos). Sherie Masse emailed to say she has a friend whose plate is LAB RAT. David Schoenhaut tells me he met a New Jersey urologist in the 1970s whose plate read PPMD. Greg Parker saw an interesting plate near the Chilworth Science Park in Southampton - L1 GHT. "How cool is that!?" he asks. Alu Chatterjee spotted CLONEME and Al Shpuntoff says he publicises his bioinformatics consulting business and website with AFS4 DNA.

I was actually hoping to make this page the equivalent of my friend Carl Zimmer's scientific tattoo emporium in which he displays interesting tattoos with a scientific theme, but it hasn't quite taken off like that and probably never will, somehow the privacy issues surrounding revealing a tattoo of Darwin on your rear end are less complicated than posting a picture of your vehicle's rear end. So, if you have a great scientific, technical, engineering, or medical themed number plate drop me a line or better still send a photo of your car clearly showing the plate - leave your message in the Sciencebase Guestbook.

Meanwhile, if you came here looking for www.DVLA.co.uk, you've probably been sorely disappointed so far. But, even if you'd entered that address into the browser address bar rather than searching for an address via Google, you'd still have been disappointed with the results because for some reason our vehicular lords and masters at DVLA have not registered the web site www.dvla.co.uk and forwarded it to http://www.dvla.gov.uk which is the real home of the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency).

post officeThat site allows you to get information on vehicle licensing, tax discs etc. You can buy your tax disc online, I believe, but I'd prefer you to pass on the value of the transaction to your local Post Office instead and help prevent them from being closed down unnecessarily. By the way, if you keep your vehicle off-road you don't have to tax it, apparently, but you do have to make a SORN, a Statutory Off-road Notification to DVLA. You can find out more about that here.

Of course, it's the popularity of the search via Google for www.dvla.co.uk that makes me wonder why DVLA doesn't simply register it and then do a permanent web redirect (301) to the proper site. More surprising though is that someone has not registered www.dvla.co.uk and created a company with those initials - Dave's Vermicious Language Acquisitions, for instance. Go on, I dare you. The same problem seems to face the UK Borders Agency with people trying to search for it in Google with the URL www.ukb.homeoffice.gov.uk, click to find the actual working URL for the UKBA. It also presents itself as an issue for home improvements store B&Q and their non-existent site www.b-q.co.uk.

Talking of registrations, there is a new Grand Auto Theft scam underway and seven top tips on how to avoid being a victim.