Dear media, about scientists not knowing what the Higgs-Boson discovery will lead to next

A meme generator variation on the Hyperbole and a Half *CLEAN ALL THE THINGS* panel - this one says *KNOW ALL THE SCIENCE*

Sorry, never gonna happen | image based on panel from Hyperbole and a Half comic

This is a not a bug, this is a feature.

If your bosses won’t allow you to stop asking scientists stupid questions about their research, at least try and give the bemused answers a better context when you write up those interviews. The answer is always going to boil down to “now we’ve got even more questions to find answers for” and how the media should be framing the “we don’t know yet” answers is as Thank Goodness For That, because just think how tedious a world with no more questions to answer would be.

Anyway, onto the fun side of the Higgs-Boson news. I’ve been enjoying the pictures and blogging of the many very excited physicists in Melbourne (for a big international high energy physics conference) in response to the news from CERN.

Usually the welcome reception of a conference is a fairly low key affair. You register, you get your conference bag, you have a few drinks and nibbles while chatting to other conference participants. Not the the ICHEP 2012 welcome reception though. This one included a broadcast of the LHC Higgs Seminar. This meant that people actually arrived before the reception and there was a fairly long line to register (though we didn’t have to wait as long as those at CERN). The main worry about the ICHEP broadcast was the connection to CERN. During the previous Higgs seminar in December, the webcast stopped working half way through. Luckily this time, everything went well, and we were able to listen and cheer at the announcements from CMS and ATLAS of the observation of a Higgs-like particle at 125-126 GeV.

It was a historic moment for particle physics, a triumph for the predictive power of the theory, not possible with without the hard work of many physicists, both on the LHC and the two experiments. Though, as was emphasised, this is only the beginning in Higgs boson studies. We now need to figure out what exactly this excess is… We certainly live in interesting times!

Categories: education, media, Science

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4 replies

  1. A lot of people have enjoyed a CERN PhD student talking about the Higgs Boson, illustrated by Jorge Cham of PhD comics fame: If you’ve heard of quarks and electrons but aren’t quite up to date on particle physics it’s a good primer, or was for me.
    The beginning is a bit annoying (lunch at CERN, lots of atmospheric noise, not a lot of data) so 37 seconds in might be the place to start:

  2. Of course they would find it just after I’d cancelled by subscription to New Scientist mag. Rude! 😉

  3. Of course they would find it just after I’d cancelled my subscription to New Scientist mag. Rude! 😉

  4. Thanks Mary

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