There are good scientists and there are mad scientists. The good ones have invented the safety pin, central heating, and Italian coffee machines. The mad ones have invented smog, Roundup, and the military-industrial complex. The good ones tread with great care where God’s magnificent creation is concerned; the mad ones would cut down the Tree of Life to find out how many rings it has. The mad ones are also those who, at the cost of billions of taxpayers’ dollars, have invented a gigantic machine of unbelievable complexity and superhuman sophistication that produces nothing at all—not even a fart.
It is named the Large Hadron Collider.
Now, this is the largest machine ever built in the entire history of mankind. A sort of circular tunnel 17 miles long and buried deep into a bucolic stretch of land at the border between Switzerland and France, it has been filled to the brim with the most elaborate technical gear possible while about 1,000 scientists are busy every day to keep the monster in motion.Its aim, we hear, is “to allow physicists to test the predictions of different theories of particle physics, high-energy physics and in particular, to prove or disprove the existence of the theorized Higgs boson and the large family of new particles predicted by super-symmetric theories, and other unsolved questions of physics, advancing human understanding of physical laws.”
Amazing, you may say, particularly if Mr. Higgs the boson one day steps out of the microcosmic undergrowth and declares himself. On the other hand, and as for now, not much has come to pass. Unsolved questions of physics persist in being just that, and the great world formula that might be the key to all existence remains as elusive as an atypical quark on an uncharted mission.
That is perhaps the reason why we are treated in regular intervals to news stating that something important is brewing in the LHC that will soon be made known to an astonished world. Unfortunately, and as already said, these announcements have so far not been followed up by really tangible results. Which is perhaps the reason why now and then some interesting propositions are brought forward, for example that Einstein’s inane relativity theory could be proved somewhere deep in the belly of the LHC. Which sounds perfectly possible to someone like myself, who would think that all it needs is an electron hurled so fast around the tunnel that it finds itself waiting for itself when arriving at the point of its departure.