Breaking News: Large Hadron Collider is Secret Manager of Goldie Wilson's Mayoral Campaign You know it's going to be a good week when you wake up to read news reports that some people believe that the Large Hadron Collider didn't work because...it traveled back in time to destroy itself.
Just sit back and revel in that for a minute. I mean, could it be true? I guess in the sense that nothing is impossible, sure. Are the people claiming this most likely whack-jobs who watched Terminator one too many times? I'd put my money on that one.
Now - a little backstory for those that missed it. The Large Hadron Collider, or LHC as it's known at cocktail parties, is a really big particle accelerator somewhere in Europe. By really big, I mean the loop runs a number of miles. By somewhere in Europe, I mean it doesn't matter because some people believe that once this thing gets going it's going to cause a black hole that will swallow the planet anyway, so it could be buried under the ice in Antarctica for all it matters. And by Particle Accelerator, I mean...um...
Anyway, proponents of the collider dismiss claims that it will create a black hole and swallow the Earth. They have been quoted as saying things such as, "It's only a small black hole," and "Ha, ha, fools, soon my LHC will be up and running and you and your pathetic race will cease to exist! Then we will be the sole rulers of the universe!" So, I see no reason to worry. Besides, anybody who saw the new Star Trek knows you can't create a black hole without that cool red goo that, while powerful enough to open a black hole, can be contained within a glass jar or a syringe.
The purpose of this LHC, if you believe the supporters, is to smash a few atoms to find what is called The God Particle - also known as the Higgs boson. This particle is said to have been present at the Big Bang. The Big Bang (warning, make sure your adult content filters are ON if you want to Google the Big Bang) is, according to eyewitness reports and various dawn of time blogs, said to be the birth of our universe.
Okay, is everybody following along?
Well, this LHC was all set to start up last year and something broke. Never mind the fact that you can't buy a car without a broken dashboard button or malfunctioning seat positioner, the going theory is that this miles-long, freezing cold, mass of metal and wiring was sabotaged by itself - from the future.
Now, most of you will expect me to work in some Back to the Future reference here, but I refuse to stoop to such levels while discussing such a serious matter. The fact is, the LHC did NOT travel back in time intent on destroying itself (let's not even BEGIN to discuss the time paradox implications there), it actually traveled back in time to give itself a Sports Almanac so it could become rich and take over Hill Valley.
Scientists, thank goodness, are hard at work trying to get this thing up and running and I say, not a moment too soon! We're in the midst of a serious Large Hadron Collider shortage in this world - so get to it!
Now, obviously, there's a lot of sarcasm in this post. For one, I don't think waking up to this story has anything to do with the rest of the week, unless, of course, I traveled back in time to make myself read the story to set the tone for my week. And then there's....well, no, I guess that's it. Everything else is pretty serious.
I take my time travel very seriously, in fact - from Back to the Future to Terminator, the lesson is always: don't mess with the past, though there is always disagreement over whether we can actually change the past or not. How it happens is always different - a flux capacitor, futuristic technology, becoming unstuck in time and popping up at various times in your own life (Slaughterhouse Five or more recently The Butterfly Effect) or in your own lifetime, but in somebody else's life (Quantum Leap). Love stories have used time travel as a vehicle, both good (Somewhere in Time) and bad (Peggy Sue Got Married). Lost flirted with time travel last season, while Flash Forward uses a brief look into the future as the driving force behind all of its events this season. Superman made it happen by circling the Earth and making it rotate backward, and a pirate and a young boy used their Omni to fix mistakes in history on Voyagers in the 80s. We have a fascination with time travel, for some reason, that seems to run as strong as our obsession with vampires.
We seem to love vampires because the idea of eternal life is, regardless of all the blood-drinking, murder, and only being able to work the night shift, enticing. Time travel seems to have a hold on us for two reasons: one - if we can travel to the past we can fix our mistakes or stop terrible things from happening and two - if we can travel to the future, we can eliminate the fear of the unknown.
I'm pretty sure a Large Hadron Collider does not worry about any of these things, though the believers here argue it is not the collider itself, but the universe actually reaching back in time to protect its own existence. Some reports say that every time they try to turn it on, a naked man appears in an energy orb, cuts the power cord, then hurls himself into a nearby vat of molten steel. The scientists running the LHC plan to attempt to capture him next time they try to start it up to find out if he's from the future - plus, they've assigned a committee to determine why it is they have a large vat of molten steel. Only the future holds the truth.
Pretty heavy stuff.
You keep saying that! Is there something wrong with the earth's gravitational pull in the future?
Damn it. I did it again.
*Warning: If you have not seen the Back to the Future movies, large chunks of what I write - on a daily basis - will not make sense to you.
*Additional Warning: If you have seen the Back to the Future movies, large chunks of what I write - on a daily basis - will not make sense to you.
J.E. Braun is the author of Paranoia, a 9/11 survivor's tale. Jim survived 9/11, but his life did not. Follow one man's journey through post-traumatic stress as he attempts to rediscover what once made life worth living. 10% of profits from sales of Paranoia will be donated to the Twin Towers Orphan Fund (www.ttof.org). For more information, visit www.jebraun.com.