Posts Tagged ‘Cornell University’

Higgs Boson may not have been found after all. Just a PR exercise?

July 12, 2012

Is this some new way to ensure that funding continues?

First some very high profile publicity to announce some fantastic new discovery – which then gradually gets debunked over the next few months but at a much lower level of interest. But the initial high-profile announcements probably help to maintain the perceptions necessary to ensure funding. The low profile debunking does not register. It seems to be getting to be a habit for CERN.

Last September the CERN PR apparatus went into overdrive with the announcements that FTL neutrinos may have been found. FTL particles were announced with great fanfare only to be debunked later. And by November the story had died but the publicity had no doubt helped to bolster the perception that CERN is important.

A few days ago the CERN PR operations went into full swing. Advance warnings of an “Important Announcement” were disseminated widely. Background information was spread to all the media. Physicists around the world were interviewed about what the Higgs Boson was and what the discovery would mean. It was not long before the new “discovery” was being hailed as the most important scientific discovery of the 21st Century, and on par with Copernicus’s discovery that the sun is the center of our solar system”.  And now just one week later it appears that whatever was found may not be the Higgs Boson and may not even be a separate particle at all.

I am naturally cynical about the extravagant trappings that sometimes surround “big science” but lately CERN’s PR seems more impressive than any physics they do:

CERN PR in action: Rolf Heuer, CERN Director General (C), Fabiola Gianotti, ATLAS experiment spokesperson (L), and Joe Incandela, a spokesman of the CMS experiment, look at a screen during a scientific seminar to deliver the latest update in the search for the Higgs boson at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Meyrin near Geneva July 4, 2012. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

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