I was kinda procrastinating writing this column. Wednesday mornings generally follow a fixed routine: get up early, drink strong coffee, hope the muse visits, write a column. But this week there was a Wednesday morning wildcard. There was an outside chance the world would end before it was time to wake up and follow that routine. So I slept in a bit. Why waste a column if there wasn’t going to be anyone around to read it?
Sometime during the middle of the night, eager scientists outside Geneva flipped the switches and powered up the Large Hadron Collider. No one was certain exactly what would happen when the world’s largest proton accelerator began accelerating protons. The optimistic scientists, many of whom had worked more or less their entire professional lives designing and building the US$8 billion machine — affectionately referred to as the God machine — simply hoped it would start. The pessimistic scientists worried the machine, designed to recreate the universe-spawning conditions that existed a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang, would open up a black hole that would swallow the Earth like an after dinner mint.
It worked, therefore I write.
But all is not settled. Like the first finger twitches of Dr. Frankenstein’s subject, the machine simply came to life. After gently breaking it in for the next several months, the real fun will begin. Sometime in the late fall, the first full-power experiment will take place. Asked what will happen when the whitecoat in charge puts the pedal to the metal, Dr. Pier Oddone, director of Chicago’s Fermilab — until now the worlds most powerful particle machine — shrugged his shoulders. “That there are many theories means we don’t have a clue. That’s what makes it so exciting.”
Don’t have a clue? If that seems a bit Homer Simpsonish to you, given one of the possibilities is the End of the World, relax. I mean, there are a lot worse ways to go. Look on the bright side, if they make it up to full power by Thanksgiving and the doom & gloomers are right, we’ll avoid the somnambulistic slide of another Harper minority government, not to mention the equally doomsday possibility of John McCain and the Barracuda giving the Republicans another four years to slowly destroy what little economy and credibility the US has left.
We also wouldn’t have to remain in suspense about Whistler’s next council and mayor and all the annoying little ways they’ll come up with to overspend, rack up more debt and find new and more exciting gimmicks to nickel, dime and dollar us to death.