science353

The dude: Richard Feynman.

Aside from hearing my mate's cancer is in remission because he stood up and shouted "NON-HAPPENING MOTHERF---ER!" to Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the thing that thrilled me this week was news of the discovery of the Higgs-Boson or "God" particle ...

It wasn't so much the "news" of the discovery - I knew they'd find it, never had a doubt, actually won the sweep in my quantum physics reading group - as the fact the discovery made so much "news".

I've been a quantum mechanics dilletante since I stumbled upon the work of Richard Feynman and realised I could reference him in conversation with cute chicks and sound kinda smart.

I follow CERN on Twitter, damnit! I've been at this party for a while now, talking to my nerdy friends, waiting for someone with clear skin or a sun tan to show up, so it's really gratifying to watch all these hot, mainstream media types arrive on the dancefloor with six packs of Asahi.

I mean, great googily moogily ... look at what was the lead story on both Sydney Morning Herald and Age websites yestee! The day after State of Origin!!

The Hezza had it on page one of their hard copy, PM with Colvinius on ABC's 702 led with it, then backed it up with another story! Sure, it only cracked page 19 of The Daily Telegraph because there was no Lara Bingle angle, but then, the WA Today, Brissie and Canberra Times websites were also more interested in ahhh ... parochial matters.

However, it's a start, no? Or is it a continuation?

The popular press has long had a love affair with science and medicine from the days of Darwin and Freud, Einstein to Edwin Hubble, William Shockley, Jonas Salk, Alexander Fleming and, more recently, Dolly the Sheep - so it's brilliant to see and hear so many people talking about cutting-edge science yet again.

Hell, people were telling Higgs-Boson jokes on Twitter yesterday, a full-fledged academic brawl is set to erupt over which pointy head will get the Nobel Prize for the discovery and, for ten to the minus twelve seconds, particle physicists were sexy.

I guarantee there will be .467 per cent more kids doing physics in the HSC next year because of this.

Which is exciting.

Driving to my mate's place to watch Game 3 of the State of Origin on Wednesday night, some friends and I even had the following conversation.

"They [Queensland] don't have Lockyer anymore, they're f---ed"

"Yeah, but Cronk's not a bad replacement."

"He's not Lockyer."

"No-one's Lockyer. He played 36 Origins."

"How do you remember that shit?"

"It's the record. He played more games than anyone else."

"They're still f---ed. We're gonna smash them."

"So how about the Higgs-Boson?"

"Yeah, that God Particle shit."

"What?"

"So, is Taylor definitely not playing?"

"Stop here, I need to get beers."

"Can you drink piss when you're doing chemo?"

"I'm getting that fake beer."

Which may well be the first time in recorded history Darren Lockyer, David Taylor, particle physics and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma have been discussed in a Mazda driving to Maroubra but, before I can be certain, I'll need to look at more data.

Anyway, now I'm at 542 words for this post, I'll make my point - which is that it was refreshing to listen to/and read the news and feel like I was learning something.

So often nowadays, particularly when science is involved, I feel like we get one "expert" slanting the facts to suit their agenda, then another "expert" who disagrees with them is interviewed in the interests of "fairness", even when the topic discussed doesn't require balance.

If you have someone discuss why the world the is round and how this affects everything from gravity to the climate, you don't then need to hear a mouth-breathing flat-earth lunatic to "balance" the argument.

Yet this seems to be the case with many "science" stories we read and see on the news.

Yes, there is debate as to what the "discovery" of the Higgs-Boson means, and even if we have actually truly discovered "it" but, by and large the coverage was surprisingly uniform, each report compounding the facts and enlarging the understanding of the audience - rather than throwing the reader into confusion, then frustrated apathy.

That's what news should (and maybe still can) be.

Though, I'm sure if you chatted to a particle physicist about the latest coverage they'd see it a little more like this.

Sam de Brito's latest novel Hello Darkness is in bookstores now. You can follow him on Twitter here. His email address is here.