Now that Higgs boson discovery afterglow has faded, what are physics fans going to talk about? Well, the Nobel Prize for starters. Here's a rundown of some post-Higgs boson questions:
Who's Going to Win the Nobel Prize?
Everyone is waiting for October 9, when the Nobel Prize in Physics will be announced, but the big question is best put by Oxford University physicist Frank Close: "How do six people who had an idea share a Nobel Prize that is limited to three?" His take: "The answer is: they don’t. To paraphrase George Orwell: All may appear equal, but some are more equal than others," Close writes.
Picking which three people are more equal than others is already physics gossipers' newest topic of speculation. "Personally I think the experimentalists are first in line, and with no obvious figureheads, a prize for three groups: ATLAS, CMS and the CERN accelerator engineers and physicists would be highly appropriate," writes Peter Woit, the physics blogger who "broke" the Higgs news. While Close has his own set of winners, which includes Peter Higgs himself. And The AFP mentions the big question of whether or not the three-person rule will be broken.
In other words, there's plenty to be discussed, which brings us to our next question.
What Will Physics Gossips Gossip About Now?
It's almost unfair that just as some of us (more on this later) journalists and physics neophytes are beginning to grasp this whole Higgs thing, our favorite physics bloggers will be moving on to stuff which we might have to learn all over again. Some, like Resonaances, are still in a Higgs hangover, explaining and rehashing the findings in a language (with charts) we think makes sense for the science-inclined, while others like CMS physicist Tomaso Dorigo wax on the implications for the groups who discovered the Higgs boson and the actual announcement. Woit, who we mentioned earlier, has moved on, tried writing a Higgs-free post (he failed) and is already linking out to "super symmetry" and "extra dimensions" which we'd look up and get into if our brains weren't already mad at us for making them learn sigma things.
What Will Journos Write About (e.g., How Close Are We to Teleporters?)
If there was one thing that the Higgs boson taught journalists it was that it showed us just how difficult it was to write about something we only have the vaguest understanding of. For better or worse, that resulted in some great headlines and stories like the National Post telling us that light-speed travel would be possible, or the BBC telling us that it killed religion, or Discovery News/MSNBC asking if Higgs was the first step to a Star Trek transporter. And these stories were fun, but not as fun as Science 2.0's editor Hank Campbell shooting them all down. So perhaps there won't be any more crazy stories as journalists have likely milked many of the possibilities, but on the bright side--maybe firefly sex will finally get the attention it deserves?