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7 Ridiculous Things People Believe About the 'God Particle'

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"Columnist" sounds so much nicer than "Extremely Failed Test Result."

Scientists at CERN recently announced the discovery of a Higgs-like particle, the culmination of decades of genius, but there's an empty spot in our cocktail cabinet, so we figured we'd scoop their Nobel Prize. Because we've already found a practical application for it. Interaction with the Higgs field is what gives particles mass; therefore, there will be more Higgs interactions near denser objects, so we can use Higgs particles as a tricorder for finding thick-skulled idiots. Our new system is already working: Scanning a spectrum from the New York Times through Twitter to the Daily Mail, the Higgs announcement has revealed thousands of idiots all over the world!

#7. Ultimate Pedantry

In 1989, CERN invented the World Wide Web to transmit important information between smart people, and the world has been using it for the exact opposite ever since. On July 4, 2012, CERN announced what could be the smallest unit of anything that could really matter, and idiots on Twitter immediately obsessed about something even smaller.


When God said, let there be light, these guys complained about the wattage.

A literally reality-defining discovery, and they were whining about the Comic Sans font. You couldn't miss the scientific point more painfully if you assumed Erinaceidae were spheres.

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"Shoving this into my underpants approximately shouldn't hurt."

It would be cruel to say that they picked on the font because it was the only part of the presentation they understood, so I'll say that, because that's exactly what happened. The scientists had just used a machine that makes the Saturn V moon rocket look like a sparkler to interrogate reality itself, and these dumbasses were trying to look superior because they prefer letters with curly bits at the ends.

CERN
You have to understand the whole page before you're allowed to complain about any of it.

When someone announces a new fundamental particle, they could write their results in eight pints of warm human blood and the species would still be better off for the trade. They might have just completed the Standard Model of understanding existence. If you're trying to trump that with typography, you'd be better off using your special skill against Batman, because at least then you'd entertain a few people while humiliating yourself in public.

DC, Warner Bros
"Looks like they tried to be comic sans intelligence!"

#6. "What's the Point?"

comment on Daily Mail

When smart people announce an understanding of the basis of reality, the other kind of people ask why they'd bother. And it's impossible to answer, because that sort of person thinks "being able to understand things" is elitist.

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DAMN THIS IVORY TOWER AND ITS PUSH/PULL SIGNS!

When people ask, "What's the point in understanding everything?" they've just disqualified themselves from using questions and should disappear in a puff of paradox. But they don't understand and just continue existing, which are also their only two strategies for life. These are the apes who sat in the back of the cave, scratching themselves while ooking about how bashing rocks together was a total waste of time. Except back then they had a better excuse for their sloping foreheads and scratching themselves in public.

Getty
"Not eat, not grope, THIS USELESS!"

Previous investigations of apparently pointless physical phenomena led to little things like electricity, quantum mechanics, absolutely everything, the entire modern world. Stuff like that. The most important breakthrough in the last thousand years came from shining invisible light on a piece of metal to watch more invisible bits come out. If scientists hadn't followed up on this odd little detail (aka the Ultraviolet Catastrophe, the most badass-sounding revolution in scientific understanding), the absolute limit of modern technology would be brass and steam. And we'd have Cavepunks wearing fake animal skins, posting lithographs of themselves holding giant fake clubs that don't actually work for hitting things.

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The paleolithic version of "duck face" was "flamingo face."

#5. "What's the Point?" Cancer Edition

comment on Daily Mail
"I spend five hours a day commenting on websites to tell people to do something useful!"

Complaining about "wasting money" is how people pretend to care without doing anything, or spending money of their own. When someone demands to know how people dare spend money on anything but curing cancer, steal their smartphone and sell it for charity. Repeat their argument back to them, duck, and over the next few years gradually notice how much better your life is now that they're not calling you.

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"It all started that day I stopped listening to morons!"

This attitude reveals such fundamental misunderstandings about science that it could only happen at the Standard Model level. Science isn't one big resource pool. You can't switch particle physicists over to curing cancer, unless you want a lot of confused patients being accelerated down huge underground tunnels. Also, you're too late, because particle physics has already totally helped with curing cancer. And every other disease. And all injuries. X-rays, MRI, positron emission tomography -- all were incredibly abstract madnesses until humanity found them. Then fitted them with tiny subatomic harnesses to help fix our fleshy monkeybodies.

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"We're going to watch antimatter explode inside you, and this is not a joke, WE ACTUALLY DO THIS."

When the military's going-to-Iraq budget is bigger than NASA's going-to-space budget, science might not be the first place you should cut. And it's pretty rich to talk about whether to fund science when funding as a concept only exists because of the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). Without metallurgy, machinery, computers, medicine, agritech, etc., most of us would never have been born, the rest would have starved and the last surviving stockbroker would be an ape with no apples promising "Give you lots apples! First give me apple!" followed by loud chewing noises. The most successful businessmen in the world are just the best at playing in the world science gave them.

#4. "They're Not Sure if They Found It!"

comment on Daily Mail

The whole point of science is making progress despite being 90 percent dumbass. That's not mocking the masses of humanity -- I mean that every individual brain is at least nine-tenths stupid. The only difference is that the smartest tenth knows that. That's why science uses established predictions, recorded results and peer review to make sure they're not fooling themselves. Adapting your answers to new evidence leads to discovery and progress. Adapting your evidence to fit your answers leads to human sacrifice and witch-burning.

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Nicolas Cage got away, but the cast and crew of The Wicker Man were dealt with.

For most life forms, changing your behavior based on new evidence is smart, or basic survival strategy. But some see it as a sign of weakness, a dangerously intellectual flip-floppery that means you're no longer the most 100 percent BEST MOST RIGHTEST winner of arguments.

This makes the CERN announcement a useful intelligence-improving test. If your favorite news site pointed out that they've maybe found the Higgs boson, great. If they claimed "THEY FOUND THE HIGGS!" in 20-point type, find a new information source, because that one thinks good tweets are more important than actual facts. Rolph Heuer, director general of CERN, said, "As a layman I would now say, I think we have it. But as a scientist I have to say 'What do we have?'" That's the most exciting day of his life, and his first priority is "I will indulge in celebration for 2.4 seconds of this sentence before reminding myself to do things properly." That's the closest humanity has to Vulcans, and we've already put him in charge of scientific machinery larger than every Starship Enterprise put together.

CERN
Fascinating. Fucking. Squared.

Another wave of "It's not the Higgs?" articles will reveal further idiots. The only thing that could be even more exciting than finding the Higgs would be finding something else. Both tell us about the how the universe works. The only difference is that a non-Higgs would start by saying "Not like that," and then igniting the most awesome race to understanding the world has ever seen.

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Luke McKinney

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