This evening I’ve been watching CERN‘s updates on its Higgs particle research. It looks like a particle has been observed which may correspond to the Higgs boson. Yay!

A few points:

  1. My knowledge of current physics is horrifyingly inadequate;
  2. Comic Sans is awful;
  3. Colour schemes in presentations matter;
  4. The scientists were very, very careful not to say “we found the Higgs boson”. People on the internet, not so much.
  5. Next time I should get my drinking game sorted before the presentations start.

I suspect that this was one of the most watched science presentations ever. I think it’s fantastic that people from all over the world can join in an event like this, even chatting with people in the room through CERN’s own chat channel. The internet and science are awesome.

Edit: I posted this fairly early, at the end of the presentations last night. A few more points:

  1. My favourite part of the whole thing was watching Peter Higgs‘ reaction. He was in the room, and crying. He didn’t expect to see this in his lifetime.
  2. There are lots of wrap ups available for further reading, including a live blog from the event, what the discovery really means, Comic Sans reactions and tweets.
  3. A few news sites (I’m not going to bother linking them) have had articles decrying the lack of immediately visible applications of the discovery. So not the point. The point is the confirmation of what we think the universe might be made of, and that’s pretty cool all on its own.

I’m curious to find out how many people watched the presentations. I’ve emailed CERN’s press office to see if I can find out how many connections there were to the webcast, but I’m not counting on hearing back from them. They must be fairly busy at the moment! Hopefully that information will turn up somewhere. (Edit: 500,000)