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How to put things in perspective

March 24, 2011

If you think Geneva is quiet now, imagine how quiet it will be if this happens...

Most people who live in Geneva – and many who don’t, but who have read that literary masterpiece Angels and Demons – will be aware that not only does it enjoy the esteemed honour of being home to the world’s longest wooden bench* but it is also the location of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, or to those of you who like a seemingly nonsensical acronym, CERN. CERN’s existence in Geneva is rarely evident, which is to be expected given that is, for the most part, housed in an underground lair on the outskirts of Geneva, surrounded by a moat filled with sharks with laser beams attached to their heads. Everyone in Geneva seems to know someone who knows someone who works at CERN, which is not surprising seeing as there are around 10,000** full- and part-time staff working there, but you rarely actually get to meet these people, at least not during daylight hours or in places where more than five people might gather at any given time.

Nestled 100m underneath Geneva and spaning around 27km in length is CERN’s pride and joy, the Large Hydron Collider, a particle accelerator designed to recreate the conditions in the universe immediately after the Big Bang. Scientists conduct a number of experiments in the LHC which are designed to resolve long-standing questions of physics and give us answers about the universe.  Although the folks at CERN are not exactly sure what will happen when they conduct these experiments, they can reassure us that any cosmic rays, black holes, or stranglets that are created in the process will be the good kind, and will probably, almost definitely, not end life on earth as we know it.

Righto then, good.

Hold on, what? There is a machine operating right under my feet that might possibly create a black hole but it’s okay because it will be the good kind of black hole, the one that goes away quickly? And I’m supposed to be comforted by this? We’re talking about a BLACK HOLE. A region of space from which nothing, not even light, can escape! I mean, I know Switzerland is neutral, but surely even it wouldn’t be immune to being eaten by a black hole?  WHY IS EVERYONE OKAY WITH THIS?

And even if those so called “scientists” are right about the black hole thing, that’s just the beginning of my list of concerns about this place. The LHC produces strangelets – I have no idea what they are but I imagine they’re a little like black holes that go around strangling people, which sounds bad. And then there’s the whole creating-temperatures-a-million-times-hotter-than-the-centre-of-the-sun thing, which apparently is also no biggie. If you like the idea of slowly melting to death.*** And CERN’s reponse? Just you wait and see, they tell us. “We’ll show people that the world is not going to disappear.” Well, that will be a little redundant if the world disappears, won’t it?

I think that each and every one of us should do a dance every morning we wake up and find out that the entire population of Geneva hasn’t been swallowed up by a giant strangling black hole overnight.**** I never thought I’d say it, but I don’t want this town to be obliterated into a million smitherines while I live here. While I’m away on holidays in New York next month would be okay though.


* I kid you not.

** That’s around half the population of Geneva. Okay, not really, but it’s close.

*** Meanwhile, if they can create those temperatures underground, surely they could use just a little of that heat to make it a bit warmer here during the period spanning November to March? Need I walk around wrapped in 27 layers of clothing when there is a convenient heating source at hand?

****If none of this particularly concerns you then all you have to worry about is Al Qaeda getting inside CERN and having a little fiddle around, which is not exactly outside the realm of possibilities.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Lidia permalink
    March 24, 2011 3:13 pm

    LOL at PW 🙂

  2. March 25, 2011 9:44 am

    The world’s longest wooden bench…what a city.

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