People may have noticed that the news today is saturated with stories about scientists ‘discovering Kryptonite:’ the fictional substance that causes Superman to lose his powers. The claim is based on how the chemical formula for the new mineral – discovered in Siberia – is the same as the one invented for Kryptonite in the film Superman Returns. Obviously, this is just a fluke that arose because of some words a scriptwriter or prop designer happened to string together. No insight arises from referring to the new mineral with reference to the film. To me, this seems like the same kind of cheap, low-brow science reporting as when all the coverage about ‘hobbits’ being discovered emerged in response to the discovery of H. floresiensis.
I can understand why a journalist might want to put out a fluff piece like these and then take the weekend off, but it really isn’t ‘science’ reporting in any meaningful sense. It is especially depressing when quality newspapers decide to print such rubbish, perhaps hoping to attract a few more readers. It is astonishing to me that they lack allure on their own, when discussing serious science. After all, the pace of ongoing discovery and technological development is staggering, and it has never been more important for ordinary citizens to understand the natural and man-made phenomena that influence the ways in which we live.
PS. Claire, Hilary, and I saw many goats today. Here are some goats eating plants.