Sunday, December 18, 2011

Of Bosuns, Bosons and Bozos

The hunt for the elusive Higgs Boson has been much in the news this last week, as the particle physicists at CERN pore over the latest outputs from the Large Hadron Collider and believe they may have seen tantalising hints of its existence.

Sticking with my recent theme of poor science coverage by the nation's media, this has largely been reported as a search for a totally different entity. Something apparently called a Higgs Bosun. Now I'm not overly familiar with the subject, but to me a bosun has always been something to do with sailing. The oldest rank in the Royal Navy, more properly rendered as boatswain, and the chappy who supervises the deck crew. He also, optionally, may have a locker. But he's got absolutely fuck all to do with particle physics.

Now I know it's an unfamiliar term, but you radio and TV Johnnies really mustn't use that as an excuse to fall back on something you ARE familiar with. It's a BosON. Phonetically: BOSE - as in the world-renowned purveyors of high quality audio equipment - and ON - as in the opposite of off.

I really don't see what the problem is. You never see or hear of people referring to protuns, or neutruns, or electruns. Surely even the densest of media hacks must have noticed by now that sub-atomic particles generally, with some notable exceptions, have names ending in -on. And that this not pronounced un.

I know I shouldn't really get so wound up about this stuff but, well, I do. It's just not proper.

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