Culture Fail – Stop Calling it the “God Particle”

Science and mankind made a great leap forward recently, researchers may have found the elusive Higgs boson particle. Up until now, it’s mere existence was speculative. This is a great accomplishment that may open whole new avenues of technology and scientific understanding. So it’s very disappointing to see major news networks referring to the Higgs boson by it’s controversial nickname the “God Particle”. Good grief, if I could roll my eyes any harder they might get stuck in the back of my skull.


But for those of us who aren’t theoretical physicists, what is the Higgs boson particle? And what might it’s discovery mean for the rest of the world? Well, scientists think it’s what gives things mass. It’s what allows atoms to clump together to form objects instead of floating about at random. Doesn’t sound terribly sanctimonious. So why call it the “God Particle” anyway? It’s unfortunate nickname from the title of a book, The God Particle: If the Universe is the Answer, What is the Question? By Leon Lederman. Lederman stated that he decided to refer to the Higgs boson as such because it’s such a integral part of physics… and you know, not a controversial title to boost sales of his book. Sure, Leon. I totally believe you. Except I don’t.


The news networks like CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and so forth have locked onto this term as if it had any merit. Just using the word “God” in anything- especially pertaining to science- sets religious people on the defensive. It conjures up ideas of physicists busy at work looking for a way to disprove their faith, or worse- attempting to harness a power that is not meant for man. The reality is that the Higgs boson has a better chance of getting us hover boards than it does giving us a glimpse at a diety. Look, I work for a newspaper, I understand the need for readers. But slinging around a sensationalist headline in this way is manipulative and totally disrespectful to the magnitude of this discovery. If you need to get someone to read your news- start talking about Obama, or run that picture of Justin Beiber again. That’ll get ’em! Leave the Higgs boson out of it.


By Magdalen O’Reilly