Teachers Notes - Colliding Particles

Colliding Particles - Episode 10: Blogs - March 2012
This film looks at one way in which scientific ideas are communicated, through
blogging. Philip Gibbs has a blog in which he comments on progress in the
hunt for the Higgs boson. Jon Butterworth blogs more generally on Physics in
The Guardian.
Activity 1
Spreading the news
Questions for students to think about while watching the film, and to discuss
afterwards. (It is helpful if students read through the questions before
watching and check any words or phrases that they don’t understand. You
could also ask them if there are any blogs, scientific or non-scientific, that they
follow regularly.)
What is a blog?
An individual or group writes comments,
usually on a theme, and posts these for all
to see.
What does Philip Gibbs write
about in his blog?
He comments on progress in the hunt for
the Higgs boson.
Where does Philip Gibbs get
information from?
He surfs the net. He knows who else is
blogging in the same field; he looks at
conference proceedings and the websites
of the labs involved.
How can people respond to Philip They can add comments to his blog.
Gibbs’s blog postings?
What is new about blogging?
Philip Gibbs explains that blogging about
on-going scientific projects is a novelty – it
wasn’t possible a few years ago. So more
people can comment on what is going on,
and even manipulate data to test their
own ideas.
Are bloggers reliable?
Jon explains that bloggers have varying
expertise so that some are more reliable
than others.
Are all scientific blogs technically
Jon explains that some blogs are more
technical, others are more popular.
How have blogs made scientific
findings more available?
Anyone can look at a blog; previously, we
only had access to reports in the press
and magazines, or ‘3 minutes on the
Today programme’.
Are blogs useful to other
scientists working in the field, or
are they just for interested
members of the public?
Adam says that he can find things in blogs
that would take him days to work out for
Where they blog
Philip Gibbs’s blog is at http://blog.vixra.org/
Jon Butterworth’s blog is at http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/life-andphysics
Showing the film
The film is available in 2 versions from the website: the original version, and a
special ‘Classroom Edit’, which break the films into themed sections with
spaces in between for easy pausing.
The original version of the film can be shown straight through and
uninterrupted. This will allow students to start recognising the different
personalities involved.
Subsequently, the ‘Classroom edit’ can be shown in sections (see Summary
below), with a discussion of the main points arising after each section.
Classroom Edit Summary
Jon Butterworth, experimental physicist, University College London
Adam Davison, research student, University College London
Philip Gibbs the unshaven blogger
March 2012
News about the hunt for the Higgs boson is
expected from the Tevatron accelerator at
Fermilab in the USA.
First blogs
Philip Gibbs is working on his blog, ready to
comment on new data as it becomes
Philip Gibbs explains that the use of blogs
to report and interpret new scientific
findings is a novelty.
Different blogs
Jon describes the range of blogs, with
varying levels of detail and reliability. This
makes for a greater range of sources for
lay people.
Interpreting data
Philip Gibbs looks at data and prepares a
blog entry.
Using blogs
Adam explains the value of technical blogs
to an insider – they give a useful overview
and may have presented the data in a
useful way.
Posting a blog entry Philip Gibbs checks his blog entry and
posts it