Purely a figment of your imagination

What amuses, annoys, concerns or otherwise interests me – Noodlemaz

OlympHiggs boson

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Hello everyone! I’m sort of back from my thesis-writing hiatus now.Is I can be doktor nao, plz?

For anyone who was unaware, I am in the process of finishing my PhD. The gigantic document/book is handed in, my exam (viva) is next week. After that you may call me Dr Noodlemaz.

Anyway, there’s a point to me banging on about that. Firstly, I hope to get posting a bit more regularly again soon, when I’m back in the swing of things. Secondly, with PhD-getting celebrations imminent, I’ve got around to deciding when and where I want gatherings of friends to be merry with. 

Unfortunately, because I live in London, the best weekend for all of this has fallen on the sodding Olympics opening weekend.

This means busy tubes, busy everywhere, people not bothering to come because they don’t want to be trampled by crazy Olympics tourists, et cetera.

I’m sorry, but the Olympics is every 4 years. I GET ONE PHD, JUST ONE! (Yes I know you can do more than one, I am not doing that though). I think, I think, that my life is taking precedent over these “games”.

Joking aside, there is a lot of complaining to be done about the Olympics that is justified. Very few people here care, I know some people with tickets who like watching sports, but that’s about it. It’s expensive, it’s going to destroy the transport system, it’s a general p.i.t.a.

But let me hand over to @gwendes to continue the rant, albeit from a different direction. As part of my return-to-blogging, I’d love for people to send me things to post. Give me a shout if you like. Now, over to Giles:

“Yesterday morning I was woken by the dulcet tones of early morning BBC Radio Four and the news that scientists working at the CERN Large Hadron Collider had, in all likelihood, made one of the most important discoveries of the century, the Higgs Boson.

Skip to lunchtime and I’m checking the usual combination of BBC News/ The Guardian/ facebook / Twitter and I notice a wholly idiotic oversized tweet from Jason Mohammad (@jasonmbbc)

(1/2) It’s taken years, billions of pounds & the biggest brains on the planet. Today, scientists confirm they’ve found the ‘God Particle’ (2/2) But who cares? The world is in economic meltdown. Why are we wasting money chasing something that to most of us means nothing?

There’s something immensely irritating about people who cannot express themselves in 140 characters or less. I mean, how hard is it to… sorry, I’m getting side-tracked. Obviously the problem here has nothing to do with a few extra letters. For me it was a single word. In fact, it made me angry enough to tweet back, then tweet something flippant about there being someone wrong on the internet and finally complain to friends on Skype (you know, for the immediate feedback that so soothes my soul).

The word was ‘wasting’.

I mean, what has blue skies science ever done for us?

Not to get all Monty Python but it’s given you most of the world you see around you. Not everything, but you could be almost certain you wouldn’t be reading this. Or, you know, existing.

To further rub salt into the wounds I discovered that @jasonmbbc is reporting for the 2012 Olympics. So, right back at you Jason (if that is even your real name).

The Olympics: who cares? The world is in economic meltdown. Why are we wasting money on something that to most of us means nothing?

Science is not a distraction. It’s not a headline. It’s not entertainment (although it is thoroughly entertaining). Science is the constant struggle for new, better and more knowledge. It’s the underground (quite literally at CERN) scrabbling by millions of minds to learn about the universe that ultimately improves our planet and the human race as a whole.

I (obviously) agree with Giles. There’s been a lot of debate about why it is (or isn’t) good to fund “blue-sky” research. That is, when you may not necessarily be working towards a very specific goal, but simply researching to find out new things (that’s what all research does, but it can be directed to varying degrees) – often this still leads to new technologies, spin-off projects and all sorts. The most famous, or at least frequently-cited example probably being Tim Berners-Lee at CERN inventing the world-wide web. So, everyone complaining about how pointless science is whilst using their computer keyboard and an internet connection to tell everyone- you are silly. To put it mildly.

To sum up, science is great, and screw the Olympics.

NB/ the title is certainly not just a way to get people looking for Higgs stuff to come to my blog.

Edit: here’s a relevant and lovely thing. A letter from a scientist in response to a nun who complained about funding space exploration when there are starving children. Thanks to Alex for the link.]


Author: noodlemaz

I prefer to think of myself as a realist rather than a pessimist, but perhaps that's just optimistic. Honest, atheist, scientist, feminist.

One thought on “OlympHiggs boson

  1. Robin Ince put it very well in his Happiness Through Science tour. Badly paraphrasing from my appalling memory, but – “if you think science is pointless, that’s fine. Give it all back then. Your laptop, your phone, your TV, your medicines, most of the food you eat. Go on, go and live in that tree over there, naked. We’ll come back and bury you later.”

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