Switzerland can learn a little something from Hawai‘i.
I recently found out that my other home (beyond Switzerland), the U.S. state of Hawai‘i, is considering adding a new member to its long list of officially adopted species. In Hawai‘i, we already have a state flower (hibiscus), state bird (nene goose) and state tree (kukui), as well as 13 other officially recognized state flora and fauna.
We used to have a state fish, the euphoniously named humuhumunukunukuapua‘a, but while the politicians who decide such things were out to lunch one day, that designation accidentally expired, and so the humu has been left adrift.
By comparison, as far as I can determine, Switzerland only has a national flower, the Edelweiss, and a national mascot, the banker.
Back in Hawai‘i, perhaps to make up for letting the state fish get away, a state legislator has proffered an initiative to name – I’m not kidding – an official state microbe. This esteemed microorganism, Flavobacterium akiainvivens, grows on only one plant, an endemic Hawaiian flowering shrub, the akia. For Hawai‘i to have its own microbe would “emphasize the unique nature of our island state,” says the proposal. No argument there, since no other state in the USA boasts its very own microscopic representative.
I know what you’re thinking: Those politicians in Hawai‘i clearly have sunstroke and should come chill out in the Alps. Why else would they waste their time on such a silly thing? The answer is simple and powerful: Tourism. Hawai‘i knows a thing or two about tourism.
So maybe we here in the Confoederatio Helvetica (that sort of sounds like a microbe, doesn’t it?) should consider something like this. Of course, we have obvious microscopic stars eager to be marketed:
But we can also lay claim to another species so huge that no other place on the planet can compete with it: a sub-atomic particle. Higgs boson in da house!
In Switzerland, it takes only 50'000 signatures of Swiss voters to put a popular initiative like this before the federal council. I, for one, vote YES to naming the Higgs boson as the official Swiss Sub-Atomic Particle. Will you join me?
Citizens, please help show that everybody’s favorite boson, discovered right here in Switzerland, has mass appeal. Vote now!
(Picture copyright Maximilien Brice/CERN)