Public engagement with particles

Today was one of those days when past and present roles collided with BIS’s interest in the announcements from CERN (and yes that pun was intended!)

That organisation – and the particle physics community as a whole has done a brilliant job over the last few years in engaging – both on and offline – the public (publics) in its quest for the elusive HIggs Boson particle.  (I know that the LHC is about much more than that, but it’s that search that has caught the imagination).  As a result, I probably understand more about what they’re up to and what the particle is than I ever did about some of my GCSE physics.

From a digital perspective, CERN have really embraced openness (without compromising methodological integrity), so live blogging and tweeting were the order of the day, while #Higgs (and possibly even the wonderfully named hashtag Higgsdependce) deservedly trended throughout the day. 

Audioboo came into its own from the BIS perspective, with the ability to capture instant reactions of some of the UK science and science funding community (including one from BIS’s own Head of research funding). And by sheer serendipity, one interview – meant to capture what the announcement would mean for public engagement with science – took on a more personal twist.

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Watching the online webcast live from was a somewhat curious affair, although I now (think I) know that five sigma is a high statistical standard of proof that gets scientists excited!

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