I drew this comic under the assumption that I wasn’t going to be conscious when the CERN announcement regarding the Higgs boson was made. So I covered my bases and played out all possible scenarios in lovingly retro fashion. If you’re too young to recognize the reference* just think CNN announcing the repeal of Obamacare.
The nod to quantum physics is made more delicious by the fact that the image is supposed to be me gloating over an incorrect headline. That’s some juicy superposition there. Hope you brought a dustpan for the pieces of your MIND that are all over the floor.
That said, I did stay up, and holy crap it was worth it. Be sure to check out Sean Carroll’s article on the announcement, as my current recap involves me giggling at the term “Tau tau” but here’s big whammy:
We have observed a new particle consistent with the Higgs boson**.
You’re about to announce to the entire world that you have found the missing piece in the standard model of physics, and you do it with comic sans? Scientists. Scientists. Even if comic sans were an acceptable typeface, this is not the time for whimsy here. This will probably end up in the Library of Congress. Oh geez, I made myself sick just thinking that.
It wasn’t even the first time either. I’m beginning to think this is some sort of inside joke—that CERN is not content with trolling journalists alone, but anybody with eyes. Or perhaps there is some sort of misunderstanding? Is there some sort of cultural divide here, where comic sans is acceptable in Switzerland? Are we being insensitive with our narrow perspective on typeface usage? Probably not.
Nadir sent a note to me this morning saying,
As graphic artists we’re putting an effort into understanding their work accurately—WHERE’S THE TURNAROUND, SCIENTISTS?
To make matters worse: Et tu Brian? Et tu Ed?
It’s entirely appropriate to present in Comic Sans @VincentConnare !
— Brian Cox (@ProfBrianCox) July 4, 2012
Can we just agree that if you discover a new fundamental particle, you can use whatever font you damn well feel like using?
— Ed Yong(@edyong209) July 4, 2012
Just as I would NEVER draw an Erlenmeyer flask when a Thiele tube is required, or I would NEVER call it the “god particle,” so should science presenters stay away from Microsoft Word clip art and comic sans. Indeed, this sort of thing is a stab in the heart for anybody in the field of science communication. It’s brought up at every conference around the world, and journalists and cartoonists can only do so much. What does it even say that the cartoonists don’t use comic sans? This nonsense must stop! Scientists need to meet us halfway. Meet us halfway, science.
And stay away from Papyrus!
For those of you who don’t quite get why the use of comic sans MS is so terrible, check out this well-designed guide: Comic Sans Criminal
*Hell, even I wasn’t born when this happened. Don’t you kids read anymore?
**To anybody who would claim that science thinks it has all the answers, that’s how they word a statement of 99.9999% certainty.