Bigger than Jesus, Jesus?

Gizmodo does some ludicrously bad science reporting, but they outdo themselves in Jesus Diaz’s story about the rumors regarding the upcoming LHC announcement:

this will be the biggest news in the history of physics since the birth of the Theory of Relativity

Sheesh. Even by Internet standards of overhype this is way off base. If the rumors are true then what we’ll be told is: We’ve found some evidence that a particle most of us expected to find is there.

Whoopee.

The discovery of neutrino oscillations (which proved neutrinos are not massless) was as big if not bigger. So was the discovery of the weak force carriers, the W and Z particles. So was the discovery of weak neutral currents. Of proton substructure — that is, quarks. Of parity violation, and CP violation. Of antimatter. Of nuclear fission and fusion. And a dozen other discoveries that either upset the then prevailing theories, or confirmed theories that until then were still regarded as interesting but speculative. And that’s just in experimental nuclear and particle physics. On the theoretical side: Quantum mechanics, quantum field theory, the quark model, gauge theories of the weak and strong interactions, electroweak unification… and more. And then there have been big developments in other fields of physics too, many of which were at least as significant as a Higgs discovery. (High temperature superconductors? Dark matter and dark energy? Lasers?)

In addition to which, if the rumors are correct, we won’t even be getting a discovery. We’ll get some suggestive evidence, but far short of the statistical significance needed to claim a definite find.

So keep your pants on. If they’re starting to see a bump in the data, hey, great, but it’s not going to revolutionize anything.

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