Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Higgs and the media

There are a variety of blog discussions going on right now concerning rumors of the Higgs boson.  Peter Woit's post about Higgs rumors sparked a back-and-forth about whether blog discussions of rumors are actually harmful to science, to the scientific process, and to the public perception of the science.  I agree completely with Chad Orzel's take on this:  Given that CERN's press office and many high energy physicists have continuously hyped this experiment for years, no one should be surprised that there is interest in its status.  Complaining about this is absurd. 

Assuming that the CERN collaborations do announce the discovery of a particle with Higgs-like properties at around 125 GeV, I would be willing to wager the following things:
1) Some fraction of high energy physics theorists will become completely insufferable.
2) Some fraction of high energy physics theorists will be quoted in poorly written popular media articles that imply the result favors (a) string theory; (b) the multiverse; (c) supersymmetry.  These articles will also imply that high energy physics is pretty much all of physics.
3) The phrase "so-called 'God Particle'" will shoot up in google's rankings.
4) There will be articles talking about the need for the next big accelerator.


David Brown said...

"... the result favors (a) string theory; (b) the multiverse; (c) supersymmetry." I conjecture that bizarre, contrived brane interactions can model any physics imaginable. My guess is that the string landscape will eventually be viewed as unlikely because it has no very plausible explanation for the space roar. Is there any conceivable way that the concept of the Higgs field can be empirically refuted?

DanM said...

..."god particle" as in: "Oh My God, particle, why were you so freakin' expensive to locate?"