Is Physics fun again?

‘Is Physics fun again?’

No, it was worst than that. I think it was ‘So, why is physics fun again?’ It was like the guy had to sing for his supper a little bit.

Come on science boy, particles smashing what’s so good about it – give it to me!

But yes, that was the question posed by Emily Maitlis the other night to a representative of CERN following the annoucement with regards to the progress on the search for proof of the Higgs Boson. And then she followed up with ‘Why is this important?’ Why. is. this. important?

And this is NEWSNIGHT. She wasn’t doing the BBC1 News. And she is clever (5 languages and all that).

It makes you reach for that despairing trope – that we just aren’t as clever as we used to be. But it does seem to be the case. It seems that the parameters have shifted – and with regards science that certainly is the case. It really does have to sing and dance to get its place at the table.

No one knows anything. Well fine, but do we really think that asking, somewhat provocatively whether this makes physics fun or not is reasonable. Fun? What’s that got to do with anything?

At least she didn’t say ‘God Particle’. I think. That was all over Sky News. But let’s leave that to one side – I just don’t have the strength to get into Sky News and their rabid frenzying of this tabloid term “God Particle”.

I hate Sky news.

I understand that news presenters have to be provocateurs and devil’s advocates – I get that – but did she really have to go down to that level? Surely ‘How is this important?’ would have been better.

Its about discovery. Many applications from discoveries do not occur to us until years afterwards. It’s about maintaining a curiosity and striving for more knowledge. That is an inherently good and important thing.

And this idea, that science exist for and around the eggheads and the boffins has to be resisted. Science is everywhere. It is the lifeblood of our society’s survival. We are all living in a scientific world. A lot of people don’t get that. It’s taken for granted.

We have to make our discourse better – more rarefied – otherwise the alternative – that it simply is less so, will wash over us, and we’ll have people asking questions like ‘why is this important?’ on supposedly smart news programmes or the tabloids screaming about God particles and spreading lies about MRI jabs.

Lets get back to ‘Tomorrow’s world’ on prime time and away from Blowing stuff up (Science is Kool!) and the frigging gadget show (I have this really bad feeling that some people may consider that science programming).

Let’s raise the debate – because when you do people lift themselves up to that. And yes, the opposite is true.

Physics is just physics. It’s exciting and necessary and hard work. And its not on the Telly enough.


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