Early this month I had the pleasure of working on the PR campaign to launch the Science Museum’s major new exhibition, ‘Collider: step inside the world’s greatest experiment’ – a recreation of CERN, home of the Large Hadron Collider. A rare appearance by Nobel laureate Professor Peter Higgs turned the press launch into a sort of science version of a One Direction concert…
Securing the appearance of a shy and retiring (and incredibly charming and modest) scientist, one who had famously ‘gone AWOL’ during the announcement of the Nobel Prize for Physics last month, resulted in a mini media mob in attendance ready to capture his picture and response to his recent Nobel win.
After the flurry of photo opps and a press Q&A, Higgs left the building and other press and guests were free to explore the Science Museum exhibition and reflect on the increased public appetite for such an abstract and challenging a subject as particle physics. Video artist Finn Ross, who had overseen the striking video art within the exhibition, summed up the craziness of the morning by declaring the media interest in Peter Higgs as “like watching your grandad turn into Rihanna!”
It certainly bore out when media coverage, bolstered again by a launch day talk by an even more famous scientist Professor Stephen Hawking, started poring in – a front page story from The Independent (featuring ‘the Rihanna of physics’), BBC Radio 4’s PM programme, ITV News, Metro, Evening Standard, the Guardian, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail Online, Financial Times, The Economist, New Statesman, Huffington Post, Prospect Magazine, dozens of news sites nationally, regionally and, reflecting the truly global interest in this experiment and project, internationally.
The exhibition is enjoying a run of 4 and 5 star reviews, with plenty of pun-heavy (“smashing show”) headlines (favourite? the Evening Standard’s ‘Let’s get this particle started‘…).