Dumb Name, Awesome Concept (II)

I know that this is a bit of a dumb thing to bitch about, but I really wish that Leon M. Lederman and Dick Teresi had chosen to name their famous book on the Higgs boson something other than “The God Particle. ” First of all, Higgs bosons are only really important to modern science in that, if we find one, it will confirm once and for all that the standard model is correct (the Higgs happens to be the only missing animal in the standard model’s zoo); giving it a name like “The God Particle” makes it sound like it has some overwhelming importance to the entire universe, or that it can do anything, rather than just explaining why W and Z bosons have mass. Secondly (and relatedly), a lot of people who can’t be bothered to actually read the book (or indeed anything on the subject beyond the title) will think that it in someway relates physics and theology; it doesn’t. Dan Brown, for example, name-checks the book in Angels and Demons.

Finally (and this is the reason why I’m bringing it up now), a different nickname would cut down on the number of stupid, sensationalist headlines like ‘UFOs’ Disrupting Search for ‘God Particle’.

May I recommend “linchpin particle,” as it holds the standard model together.


About thevenerablecorvex

I have the heart of a poet, the brain of a theoretical physicist, and the wingspan of an albatross. I am also notable for my humility.
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2 Responses to Dumb Name, Awesome Concept (II)

  1. Lindsay says:

    I have The God Particle, though I haven’t read it yet. I really like “linchpin particle,” though; that tells me a lot more about the Higgs’s importance and makes me less likely to dismiss a book with that title as probably woo-infested.

    I also have a similar loathing for sensationalistic nicknames … a field closer to mine, genetics, can be full of them in media coverage, like “the gay gene,” “the God gene” ad nauseam. Gives people a completely wrong idea of what genes do!

  2. Pingback: Just To Clear Somethings Up « voxcorvegis

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