Saturday, 13 February 2010

Quantum of Dumb


It feels as though the media reporting of science hit an all-time low this week. This morning the Guardian had the following headline about the Hadron Collider restart on Friday:

Not just one but two references to bangs, to cater for those readers who believe it's going to blow us into another dimension, and the nicely ambiguous placement of "following explosion". Last night BBC 2 showed the worst "Horizon" I've ever seen (which is the more heartbreaking since it had been getting steadily back to form over the last year). They let that "nice Alan Davies" - who'd made a fairly amusing Horizon with Marcus du Sautoy about mathematics last year - have another go, this time to explain the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. Then they chose the two most eccentric-looking physicists they could find to be his guides; filmed them in such a way as to make them look barking mad at all times; Seth Lloyd's explanation of quantum locality and Schrodinger's Cat was so inept that most viewers will have concluded it's all rubbish; and Alan Davies kept moaning all the way through to prove his credentials as a paid-up cool anti-intellectual.

It had me shouting at the screen for the first time in my life, and reinforced a growing suspicion that maybe the Copenhagen interpretation is rubbish (though not of course the phenomena that it purports to explain), merely a sop to quasi-religious idealism; that Einstein was right; and that maybe Carver Mead is the only person who's still in touch with reality (http://freespace.virgin.net/ch.thompson1/People/CarverMead.htm).

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