Friday, August 08, 2008

Big Physics, Big Publicity 

There is something about size that automatically attracts media interest. That is the case here with the Large Hadron Collider. Everything about the proton smasher is huge, and reporters have been breathless in describing its components and the work that has gone into building them. Certainly the machine has potentially major importance in understanding the building blocks of matter and universe, but we haven't heard much about that -- not yet anyway. That story is complicated and will take terabytes of data to tease out of the machine. When it comes, if it comes, reporters will rely on the scientific community to tell them what to write because they won't understand it. They can grasp "big" but not the purpose of the machine.

There are many anomalies where accidentals overshadow ideas. PR needs to counterbalance this tendency by working to remind the media about purpose. It is too easy to miss the point.


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