PLEASE don’t call it “the God particle”

July 2, 2012 at 11:15 pm 6 comments

Let me make a plea to all science journalist out there:

Please don’t call it “the God particle”!

That name was invented by Leon Lederman, very much tongue-in-cheek, back in 1993 when he published a rather good popular science book. Leon is an nobel prize winner and devoted much of his life to improving math and science education in the US. His talks were clever and witty and this “God Particle” terminology is meant to be full of irony.

To be clear: the Higgs boson has nothing to do with divinity – neither does any other particle of the standard model and whatever lies beyond. No one I know believes that the Higgs boson has any direct impact on theology or religion, and in fact, we all hate the term as being irritating at best and embarrassing at worst.

from Claire Evans’ blog

When journalists employ this term, they deviate from good science reporting toward sensationalism. They know that segments of the general population will be drawn into the article, most likely with less than positive attitudes toward the term.

So don’t do it! Stick with “the Higgs boson” or some term that physicists use, please.

For thoughtful commentary on this same issue, see the blog post from Claire Evans, from which the image above comes.

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Tevatron Higgs Results – Evidence? Yes ! Discovery of a Higgs boson !!

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. vmguptaphy  |  July 3, 2012 at 10:38 am

    You are right about Journalists. Though comtemporary scientists can understand there meaning correctly, future genrations gets carried away. Media (Films) can presents these as reality and confuse genral public about science.

    One such event in the past was, nuclear explosion, which was presented as conversion of mass into energy. This has created mis-conceptions among some of us. Some of us continue to treat energy and mass as separate realities.

    Reply
  • 2. vmguptaphy  |  July 14, 2012 at 7:52 am

    Dear Claire Evans,

    May I request your comments on my essay on 5-Dimensional Universe at http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1326

    If possible, please rate the essay as well.

    Thanks and Regards,
    Vijay Gupta

    Reply
  • 3. guest  |  July 18, 2012 at 6:34 am

    The name :God particle” was not invented by L. Lederman but by his publisher !

    see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Higgs#Political_and_religious_views

    “Usually this nickname for the Higgs boson is attributed to Leon Lederman, the author of the book The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question?, but the name is the result of the insistence of Lederman’s publisher: Lederman had originally intended to refer to it as the “goddamn particle”.[38]“

    Reply
  • 4. vmguptaphy  |  July 18, 2012 at 10:22 am

    What ever we call it, but to call it a discovery of higgs boson when paricles are made to collide at energy’s in excess of 1Tev specially when it decays almost instantaneously into two photons is alien to a common man. To picophysicist is like saying drops of water differing in volume/mass or surface area, are all new molecules.

    However, being in ignorance, we agree with mainstream scientific as a mark of regard to them. But internally it does not sound convincing to move on this path.

    Reply
  • 5. Über das Lernen & Erinnern | links/seits  |  September 3, 2012 at 2:29 am

    [...] äh, Higgs-Bosonen [don't call them "Gottesteilchen", das Ganze ist möglicherweise auf einen unbedarften Lektor zurückzuführen, der wohl neidisch auf die Physiker war]. Also ein ganz normaler Text mit ganz [...]

    Reply
  • 6. The God Particle (@God_Particle_)  |  September 11, 2012 at 7:52 am

    Higgs Boson / “God Particle” -2012 Science news is actually a 150+ year old discovery by a different name ………………Infinite Intelligence….Steve Meyer / New Thought Movement / HolisticDNA

    The Sixth Sense Activation Sequence – GROUNDBREAKING New Book in 2012!

    “New Thought promotes the ideas that “Infinite Intelligence” or “God” is ubiquitous, spirit is the totality of real things, true human selfhood is divine, divine thought is a force for good, sickness originates in the mind, and “right thinking” has a healing effect…” Wikipedia

    Reply

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