Last Tuesday, the “thinking man’s” radio news source announced, “Two scientists win Nobel physics prize!”, followed by a contorted 60-second thumbnail of the Higgs particle.
Not blaming them. Given the crepuscular Nobel announcements, folks were probably not sufficiently caffeinated to realize that lawyers usually don't win physics prizes.
In the ideal world, might have been better to say: “This morning two theoretical physicists won the 2013 Nobel in physics for proposing the existence of a subatomic particle no one can possibly understand in 60 seconds. But, Swiss scientists confirmed these guys were right, so they are partying HARD this morning. Plus, the particle has a funny name--the “Higgs Boson”! If you need to know more now, Google it. If you can wait, check tomorrow’s New York Times.”
Alice Munro's stories require that readers share a vocabulary. Same for readers of subatomic particle yarns. In this country (possibly not Japan or Singapore), if you never got beyond protons or neutrons you are going to need subatomic groundwork to get what the HB is..
Anyway, this rant has a happy ending. The New York Times piece that solidly defined the Higgs particle hit my driveway last Wednesday. OK, they used “god particle” in headline--boohiss!--but they need to sell papers. I forgive them.
Long live ANY publication that pays a science writer to cover PHYSICS.
Plus, headline was offset by glorious photo of a roomful of United Colors of Benetton-looking smart people laughing it up at the Swiss collider, where the particle was “spotted". Their faces made me think that doing physics must be worth the trouble. Or possibly the most fun thing ever!