I’m standing on a corner, wondering why I’m not inside where the rain isn’t so bad. A half-drenched guy comes up to me and says “You heard about this Hadron Collider thing they got going over there in France?”
If you stand on a corner long enough, stray people without collars will ask you just about anything, from “Who are you, who who?” to “Isn’t it disrespectful for toilet paper companies to call their customers end-users?”
The first time I heard about the Hadron Collider I thought it referred to a cocky guy named Hadron who drove the demolition derby circuit in something like a 1972 Big Merc station wagon that he styled “The Collider.”
When I told a guy that, he threw me such a baleful look of disappointment that I felt like a man who refused to give his dog half of his ham sandwich. After he’d already wolfed the first half. So I did what most fakers do, I went home and looked up Hadron on Wikipedia.
There actually was a guy named Hadron with a Big Merc named “The Collider.” He wasn’t a demo driver, but worked the demolition derby circuit selling collision insurance. His brother Sid ran a body shop and they figured that between the insurance premiums and the insurance checks for fender unbending they would make a bundle. Four days later when they went broke they became disillusioned. They’d always been told to follow their dreams.
But many a promising dream fails when the person dreaming it has to get up in the middle of the night to return a beer to nature — just when the dream is getting to the disclaimer. Back in bed a new dream clicks on and the old dream melts into the ether, never having reached the point where an announcer says “Look, this is just a ridiculous dream. Do not try to sell collision insurance to the collision-prone and stop dragging Sid into your gerbil-brained schemes.”
Seriously, the Hadron Collider is a high school science project that got way out of hand over in Europe — where science, like soccer, is very popular for no apparent reason.
The HC is a circular underground race track with a 17 mile circumference. There are no grandstands or beer vendors. Thirty men’s rooms (PhDs only), one ladies room out back. Parking is a nightmare.
While your above ground race tracks feature horses, cars, or monkeys riding dogs, the HC races protons, which are members of the futon family–apparently a very dysfunctional family. Sometimes they race lead nuclei. I can see nuclei (well, not technically) but lead nuclei? Do. I. Look. Stew. Pid?
Anyway, these things are said to be so small they cannot be seen with the naked scientist’s eye. And they don’t race these little ding dongs against each other, but into each other. When they collide, their impact is measured in something called micro joules (I hate that kind of talk) whose laps are tracked as Petabytes. Which just brings me back to my ham sandwich analogy.
At some point you have to wonder who is fooling who. This all reminds me of the guy who claimed to have the world’s smallest giant that he kept in a shoe box. Somebody (not me) foolishly gave him $1,000 for a look. Somebody (not me) looked inside and saw only an empty box.
The guy with the box said “Wait. He’s in the bathroom. Look, he just came out. See? He’s the one with the green hat. Look at the guy standing next to him. You can tell one is a giant and one is a midget.”
With micro joules, no doubt.
One of the missions of the HC is to confirm or deny the existence of what Wikipedia calls the “theorized Higgs-boson particle,” which sounds like something you’d get for theorized dinner on the dead caveman diet.
The other purpose of forcing invisible pieces of high-speed lint to run into each other underground is to help us better understand physical laws. I hope nobody asks me what those physical laws are, because other than not being an end-user in public, I’m at a loss.
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2014, all rights reserved.