The Higgs boson: What has God got to do with it?
“We don’t call it the ‘God particle’, it’s just the media that do that,” a senior U.S. scientist politely told an interviewer on a major European radio station on Tuesday.
“Well, I am the from the media and I’m going to continue calling it that,” said the journalist – and continued to do so.
The exchange, as physicists at the CERN research centre near Geneva were preparing to announce the latest news from their long and frustrating search for the Higgs boson, illustrated sharply how science and the popular media are not always a good mix.
“I hate that ‘God particle’ term,” said Pauline Gagnon, a Canadian member of CERN’s ATLAS team of so-called “Higgs hunters” – an epithet they do not reject.
“The Higgs is not endowed with any religious meaning. It is ridiculous to call it that,” she told Reuters at a news conference after her colleagues revealed growing evidence, albeit not yet proof, of the particle’s existence.