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Adventures of a Girl Reporter, Australia, Observations, Social Media, Twitter Tales

What’s the matter, Higgs Boson too hard?

Forget traditional journalism, for the biggest science story since the Moon landing we turned to Twitter.

Sarah, the beautiful @LadySeverine, took a break from her knockout show Cut and Died at Brisbane’s Stage Door Theatre – have you seen it yet? Book here – to spend an evening with her mum on Wednesday.

I told her Twitter had been running hot for days with rumours that the elusive Higgs Boson had been found. An announcement was due any minute…

We turned on the television just in time to catch the very end of the news – the most exciting scientific discovery of our lifetimes and we’d missed it!

Then something quite interesting happened for students of social media.

Without a word between us, she picked up her iPhone, I grabbed my iPad and within seconds I was looking at this:

Thank you Phil Plait, @BadAstronomer, for being first in my timeline with the news, beautifully explained and with all the sense of wonder at humanity’s latest achievement that it deserves.

Over the next half hour or so we immersed ourselves in the riches of the #Higgs timeline, sharing the best links as we found them and reading the best jokes and Comic Sans comments aloud to each other.

The later television news broadcasts we saw were rendered completely irrelevant, not helped by the ‘everyman’ habit of modern professional journalists to empathise with our ignorance rather than inform.

Particle physics is a difficult and complex subject that I don’t begin to understand.

But I know enough to be able to catch a glimpse through the window of wonder that’s been opened by the researchers at the Large Hadron Collider.

Little thanks for that goes to traditional journalism which seems to have largely abandoned its responsibility to pick its way through complexities on our behalf.

The project started with ignorant predictions of black holes opening up and swallowing the earth and culminated this week with gee whiz shruggery and geek jokes.

Meanwhile those of us who wanted to know went straight to source and, best of all, experienced all the excitement of the discovery right along with the scientific community.

Why read or watch journalists who don’t know what they’re talking about when I can read and listen to scientists who do?

And when scientists sit down with comedians (or even better, when scientists are comedians), they’re fine company.

For a really good discussion of at least one of the implications of Higgs Boson, you can’t go far past Stephen Fry and Ben Miller on the Future episode of QI.

It starts at 14.46 if you’re in a hurry but the entire episode’s a joy to watch.

That’s why we dug it out again on Wednesday night as a fitting end to an evening when the Star Trek Future, the one I’m barracking for, got a lot more possible.

Live long and prosper!

© Sally Baxter 2012
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About Sally Baxter

Once I was a girl reporter. Now I'm an interested observer covering the past, present and future of journalism and whatever else takes my fancy. All views my own.

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