God to Award Prizes for God Particle

In more news about the Fundamental Physics Prize awards planned for tomorrow evening at CERN, it turns out that God himself (AKA Morgan Freeman) will be giving out the awards, as well as hosting a TV show about this the same evening.

Physicists have often claimed to be upset by the “God particle” business, but it looks like CERN and the Fundamental Physics Prize people may be now embracing the idea. Leon Lederman is the one originally responsible for the terminology, supposedly because his publishers twisted his arm into using The God Particle as the title of his 1993 book about the Higgs. Evidently they’ve twisted his arm again, with Beyond the God Particle set to appear in October.

Both Sean Carroll and Matt Strassler are upset about a CBS News report, which contains some scientifically inaccurate hype that they’re blaming on Michio Kaku. It’s unclear to me why, after 20 years of over-the-top hype about string theory and extra dimensions from Kaku (going back for instance to here), they’re all of a sudden up in arms about this now. Whatever the reason though, I very much agree with Matt’s

Doesn’t the taxpaying public deserve the truth? Isn’t the truth already exciting enough? And what will the public think of science if, in this information era, the promulgation of falsehoods and near-falsehoods on national media is unanswered by complaints from other scientists?

and think it’s great that he and Sean are now turning their attention to this problem.

Update: It’s definitely gang up on Michio Kaku day in the blogosphere, with PZ Myers and Chad Orzel chiming in. Still a mystery to me why this is happening today, since Kaku has been responsible for far more outrageous stuff continuously for over 20 years.

Update: Philip Gibbs comes in on Kaku’s side here.

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22 Responses to God to Award Prizes for God Particle

  1. Jon Orloff says:

    I have always thought that the term “God Particle” was a mistake. In the first place it sounded as if high energy physicists were using it as a gimmick to get taxpayers to pony up for bigger accelerators (who wouldn’t pay for a bigger machine to find God?). In the second place it induced (induces) cringing and leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth..

  2. Nex says:

    Same old problem, I remember reading about Feynman criticizing the “eightfold way” theory name cause of people taking it literally as a connection between physics and buddhism. The “god particle” term seems way more problematic still.

  3. gott says:

    Actually, Leon Lederman wanted to call the Higgs the `Goddamn particle’ because it was so difficult to find, but the editors objected to that and changed the name to the `God particle’. So that was the arm-twisting of Leon Lederman by the editors. As for the new book `Beyond the God Particle’ I’ve not heard of it till now and I have no idea what arm-twisting if any took place.

  4. Hypnos says:

    It’s unclear to me why, after 20 years of over-the-top hype about string theory and extra dimensions from Kaku (going back for instance to here), they’re all of a sudden up in arms about this now.

    Because the Higgs actually exists?

  5. Flakmeister says:

    @Gott,
    yep, thats the version of the story that I heard…. And having had some interactions with Leon, it does seem plausible….

    And something tells me that cursing that damn particle is not over…

  6. cormac says:

    I like Nex’s ‘god particle’ with a small g, I must admit I’ve been using this for a while. I find it a reasonable compromise, gets bums on seats while not pretending to deities etc…in the many talks I have given, I have yet to meet a member of the public who thinks it has anything to do with religion

  7. Yatima says:

    > “Still a mystery to me why this is happening today”

    Just another black swan event.

  8. Jens says:

    If Higgs Particle = God Particle, shouldn’t Higgs be God rather than Morgan Freeman?

  9. notHiggs says:

    @Jens: Nope. Or at least I expect that will the chorus of protest from Brout, Englert, Guralnik, Hagen, Kibble, and never mind that one of them’s dead, since we’re talking about God here. Are those squawks from Anderson I hear in the background?

  10. David Metzler says:

    Your headline would make The Onion proud. Nicely put.

  11. lev says:

    Why not call this particle simply “higgs”?

  12. Pingback: Oh My God Particle! | viXra log

  13. yuk says:

    By the same logic, let’s call the electron a `dirac’ (or `jj’ or even better a `faraday’ … how about ‘faraday and dirac’ = `fad’?), and the pion a `yuk’.

  14. lev says:

    to yuk:
    there is no time reversal in history. Do you agree that higgs is simpler than Higgs Boson and less blasphemous than god?

  15. yuk says:

    Not really. I’d be perfectly happy with ‘brussels brout’.

  16. lev says:

    How many physicists would be perfectly happy with your choice?

  17. yuk says:

    Picky, picky … how about ‘qibble’ ? (to be pronounced ‘kibble’?)

  18. Johnny says:

    “God particle” is a mistake because God does not exist but the particle does!

  19. poisson says:

    Je n’avais pas besoin de cette hypothese?

  20. paddy says:

    yuk,
    While we are renaming particles..how about not muon but…(drum roll please)…the “whoorderedthaton”?

  21. yuk says:

    @paddy: Very good! I completely missed that, but it deserves first prize!

  22. speakertoanimals says:

    Couldn’t agree more with your comments about Kaku: he’s been an embarrassment for two decades now. Maybe some of the folk are upset (now) bc he’s being quoted instead of THEM?