Thinking about that other part of my brain

Sometimes, as ugly and difficult as my departure from physics was, I have to admit that I do very much miss the company of people who grasp that the following two statements are in separate universes:

“We found the Higgs boson!”

“We found a particle consistent with our current understanding of the Higgs boson!”


I miss being around people who get that the second is not a softpedaled, hedging, politically tentative version of the first but in fact is a completely different statement altogether.

I’m reminded of an interview that I read about with Carl Sagan. He was relating the story of a journalist who asked him what he thought about life elsewhere in the universe. His reply was something like, “I would imagine it’s highly unlikely that there is no life elsewhere, but in all honestly, I just don’t know.”

The journalist simply refused to get what he was saying, and pushed back with, “No, but what do you really think?” like he was just hedging or being coy.

His response was, “I just told you what I ‘really think’.”

I do miss being around large-ish numbers of people who are as gobsmacked by this as I am. Most of my coworkers are, and I guess the ones who wouldn’t be serve as a good reminder to me that most people are like that, but it’s still really irritating.