Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Power of Mu Compels You

Yesterday I saddled Super Intern Devon with the task of writing an article on a UCSB professor who's being published in a major scientific journal for his defense of the Large Hadron Collider, which, if you haven’t been paying attention, is the particle accelerator being built near Geneva that will, among other things, create small black holes for infinitesimal amounts of time. The project has created some concern that the black holes formed in this monstrous machine — which, really, sounds like something a mad scientist would cook up specifically for nefarious purposes — could end up sucking the earth and, indeed, all existence into a celestial nothing spot and collapse all mass into a single nanoparticle. Or something. (I’m actually not sure what happens to matter upon entering a black hole, but I’m willing to bet that scientists don’t know for sure either.) Scientists say the collider won’t, in fact, erase the earth’s past, present, and future — and the UCSB man agrees — but I can’t help but feel a little concerned.

After all, black holes exist off in outer space, and I feel maybe like maybe we shouldn’t change that fact, because they’re big and scary and powerful and, as far as I know, exist for no other reason than to suck things into them. (They’re like sorority girls, in that way.) Maybe creating them closer to my house, where al my stuff is, could turn out badly for existence. “But Drew,” the scientists would argue, “the evil black hole machine will be all the way in Switzerland? Surely you have no need for concern.” But I worry that — if matter does, in fact, collapse — then the distance between my house and Switzerland will become considerably shorter. Zero, in fact, because neither my house nor Switzerland would exist anymore. Nor would Tahiti, and I’ve never even been there yet. This all may make me sound like a Luddite, and I truly would like to have faith in the science men in the white coats, but so many other scientific discoveries have wrought destruction upon us: the ability to split atoms and gun powder and television chief among them.

So while Devon prepared to talk to Mr. Published Scientist and ask questions about what the black hole creators hope to achieve by making this miniature abominations — “Okay, pretend I’m stupid and don’t know anything about large hat iron collisioners. Now tell me in extremely simple terms what’s being gained from this.” — the rest of us in the newsroom brainstormed about what benefits of black hole technology could be for Average Joes. What we have so far:
  • Extra storage for people who live in apartments
  • Alternative to a handgun for single women.
  • A way for me to get out of carrying either a briefcase of a messenger bag,
  • Junk disposal. (Though that does raise the question of whether we’ll get a crumpled-up note popping back out of the mini-vortex that reads “Quit throwing garbage into our dimension.)
  • Portable body dump. (Don’t have to drive to the Nevada desert anymore.)
  • Looney Toones-style portable hole.
  • Means to taunt your Bizarro-self.
  • Quick clean-up after parties.
But in the end, of course, the black holes created will probably result in little kids in the Midwest trying to play hide-and-seek in one of them on a hot summer day. And we all know how that goes.

All life begins with Nu and ends with Nu. This is the truth! This is my belief, at least for now.

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