Monday, July 9, 2012

Stop calling it "the God particle"

The recent announcement of the apparent observation of the Higgs boson has gotten some media attention. A lot of it, actually. So much that I can't be bothered to link to any particular story. (I haven't read any of them.)

If you want to know more, search for "Higgs boson". Just please, stop searching for, or even thinking about, the term "God particle".

That's a horrible expression dreamed up by physicist Leon Lederman, according to the Wikipedia article on the Higgs boson. When the concept was largely unknown to the public the term might not have been so objectionable, but now it's a tired and embarrassingly sophomoric joke. It's also impolitic, as Peter Higgs himself points out.

Higgs, an atheist himself, is displeased that the Higgs particle is nicknamed the "God particle", because the term "might offend people who are religious".
The Higgs boson is neither evidence of God nor a proxy for Him, so enough with that stupid nickname. It's the Higgs boson. Surely that's not too difficult to use in everyday conversation.

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