Wednesday, September 10, 2008

QUANTUM OF MENACE

It was only a matter of time before a real live mad-scientist doomsday device was invented - but who would have expected it to be in Switzerland? The Apocryphist, that's who. Ever since reports began to surface about the genesis of the Large Hadron Collider - a super-cyclotron created for ostensibly peaceful "study" purposes by CERN (Center for Europeans Researching Nuclearity) that runs a 17-mile circuit beneath the Swiss countryside - we knew that there was more to the project than its maddeningly neutral proponents were letting on. And, despite the naively positive press the endeavor is receiving today, its opening day, we stand uncorrected.

First, a little subterranean geopolitical primer: until the 17th century, a race of cave-dwelling troglodytic peoples lived relatively unmolested in a series of caves beneath the Alps. In order to protect their peaceful existence against the coming onslaught of Modernity, they signed a treaty with the Swiss government in 1647, essentially declaring the underground stratum of the area a separate nation from its surface. Rather uninspiringly known as Subterranea, this nation survived and even flourished despite its occasionally cruel attitudes towards its own citizens. (Proto-anthropologist Dante Aligheri published an early ethnography of these people's quaint practices in his 14th-century monograph Inferno.)

Fast-forward to the 1940s. Previously unaware of the existence of Subterranea (which, in stark contrast to its upper counterpart, secretly and somewhat quixotically fought against both the Allies and Axis powers during WWII), former Nazi war criminals looking for hideouts that did not involve long ocean voyages or having to learn Spanish found its craggy confines to be a comforting alternative to execution. Within a generation, Subterranea became the most popular tax haven and libertarian skulking-ground the world had never heard of. That it soon attracted a new class of megalomaniacal supercriminals should come as no surprise.

This burgeoning breed of masterminds were no mere Nazis - rather than simply taking over the world, they wanted to hold it ransom for vast sums and/or sell its citizens as food to passing extraterrestrial warships and/or just destroy it outright for private, psychotic reasons. The vast majority of these projects were doomed to failure before they even made it to the drawing board - but with the creation of the Large Hadron Collider, a new chapter has been opened in the book of mega-evil.

By hiding its activities under the believable-sounding acronym CERN (unlike its risible predecessors SMERSH, SLUDGE, EEEEVIL), the criminal conglomerate was able to enlist the aid of scientists and national governments worldwide under the aegis of its stated goal: to advance quantum physics by throwing molecules into each other at unbelievable speeds in order to approximate the conditions of the world at the time of the Big Bang. That otherwise respectable people were drawn in by what is obviously a horrible threat thinly veiled by scientific jargon (you know what happened at the time of the Big Bang? THE MOST UNBELIEVABLY GIGANTIC EXPLOSION THE UNIVERSE HAS EVER SEEN) is a testament to the insidious intelligence of these evildoers.

Among the other stated goals of this project is to create a theoretical particle known as a Higgs Boson - but anyone remotely literate should be aware that this is not an actual scientific concept, but rather a sly reference to Bos'n Higgs, the demented leader of the pirate mutiny in Robert Louis Stevenson's classic tale of maritime adventure, Pirate Mutiny. In reality, as many mainstream scientists have declared in recent months, the Large Hadron Collider is liable to do nothing more than create tiny black holes, which can either be inserted as ammo into black-hole ray-guns (which can be shot at Fort Knox security guards in order to warp them into another dimension during a daring robbery) or else destroy the world outright.

Only time will tell if CERN's nefarious scheming will pay off - the Collider is going to take several months just to warm up. In the meantime, let us declare that we are not proclaiming a judgment - either positive or negative - on this mind-blowingly insane project. Just as evil can sometimes come of good, good can occasionally come of evil. If one of the side effects of this horrifying endeavor is, say, extreme human mutation of the wing-growing/x-ray vision variety, or the return of Atlantis to the surface of the ocean, or the awakening ofthe hibernating Cthulhu deep within Antarctica - well, let's just say we won't altogether mind.

16 comments:

jawaan oldham said...

Sir,

The Large Hardon Collider has been occupying my attention for quite some time as well. That such a provocatively named bit of science is so frequently predicted to produce a "Big Bang" or "Dark Matter" raises a plethora of possiblities (dare I say plethoricity? Sir? Dare I?) and poses the eternal question: if all goes wrong, are we fucked?

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