The tedium of discovery

The tedium of new things

In ennui news, physicist and all-around genius Stephen Hawking announced that he had confirmed a long believed theory that scientific discovery is boring.

Last month, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel Prize in Idle Speculation to physicists Peter Higgs and Francois Boson for their wild guess in 1964 that there were Higgs bosons, and that they probably did something cool.  (The terms of Alfred Nobel’s will clearly state that the prize could not be shared with the researchers at CERN who built the Large Hadron Collider and did the actual discovering of the Higgs boson.)

The Higgs boson (pictured above colliding with large hadrons) is the particle responsible for matter having mass. Nutritionists have for years noticed a high correlation between obesity and a high-Higgs boson diet. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg spearheaded an unsuccessful push to ban Higgs bosons from all restaurant menus back in 2011.

Hawking told a crowd at the Science Museum in London, “Physics would be far more interesting if it had not been found.”

Hawking denied that his comments were just sour grapes over losing a $100 bet to Gordon Kane.  “This isn’t about money.  I lose bets all the time.  I bet that the Large Hadron Collider would rip a hole in the fabric of space-time and destroy the Earth.  That one cost me a bundle!  I still don’t understand what went wrong.”

His talk provided a glimpse of the inner workings of the science industry.

“Science used to be about cool stuff like transmuting gold and dropping apples and making sick people eat moldy bread.  Nowadays, it’s pretty much math.  The only fun we get to have at scientific conferences any more is betting on unprovable theories.  The problem is that those damned CERNians went and found the stupid particle!”

“The point is that most of the fun of physics conferences comes from betting on theories, and then trash-talking with the gang.  Once you go and discover some boson or other, the betting pool for that boson dries up, and people have to find some other source of amusement.”

Hawking himself manages a fantasy-physics league, where people like Kane and Higgs compete to defend or refute unprovable theories. Kane said that much of the heavy action recently has centered on whether life Maybe originated on Mars, as well as the ongoing competition between cosmic butterflies and interstellar frogs.

Hawking, with his background in particle physics, prefers to wager on the outcome of supersymmetry theory. He has bet heavily against the existence of “superpartner” particles, which he describes as “nothing more than superfriends”.

“I think the discovery of supersymmetric partners for the known particles would revolutionize our understanding of the universe,” Hawking said. “Still, if we don’t quit discovering stuff, pretty soon we’re going to be reduced to betting on soccer matches. Talk about boring!”

(Click on the picture above to read Hawking’s comments for yourself.)

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