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Do Young People Really Love The Large Hadron Collider?

By Jacob Henegan

Everybody knows that today’s youth are big fans of high-speed particle collision experiments. After all, when scientists at the Large Hadron Collider confirmed they had discovered the Higgs Boson in 2013, Millennials went nuts. At the time, it felt like our generation’s Woodstock. It was the Moon Landing of particle science.

But since then, times have changed. We seem to have forgotten about the world’s largest contiguous piece of machinery, in favour of the latest new trends and hot button issues. These days, the average young person on the street cares more about catching virtual Pikachu than keeping up with the very real heavy ion ex- periments being conducted at the ALICE experiment at CERN.

So, what happened? When did the youth lose touch with High Energy Physics? Did they just get bored when the headlines died down? Is one zeitgeist-defining scientific discovery a decade too infrequent for the Snapchat generation?

If young people REALLY loved the Large Hadron Collider, as they once said they did, they would still be reading, tweeting, gramming and vine-ing about it just as much as they did back in 2013. What’s more, they would be writing love letters, asking the Collider how its day went, and maybe making a bit more effort in freeing their time so they could really support the Collider when times are rough.

To paraphrase Marilyn Monroe: “If you can’t handle me when I’m making slow progress into categorising different Supersymmetric models, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me when I’m making significant experimental contributions to our understanding of the Standard Model.”

Experimental particle physicists have been hurt before, and they won’t put themselves out there like this again unless they’re sure the love promised in the first place is sustained. So to all the science-loving Millennials, next time you say you love a piece of billion-dollar experimental apparatus, make sure you mean it. You don’t have to marry the Large Hadron Collider, but you do need to try a bit harder.

This piece formed part of the Honi Soit Think-Piece-Meal Experience. Some real think- pieces to think about it. You might think these challenging works of analysis champion “Rationalism” over “Empiricism”. You might think these headlines have been cherry-picked from hilarious @thinkpiecebot tweets. And you know what, at least you are thinking. That’s the point. Having thoughts, no matter what is hermeneutically sound.

Want to read our other Honi Soit Think-Pieces-Meal-Experiences? Check out our New York Times article Have We Transcended Childbirth?, and our piece from The Guardian, Why does the American ruling class continue to be obsessed with the Bubonic Plague?