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HURT: Higgs boson, by Mark Twain
Question of the Day
Everyone, it seems, has an explanation for the scorching heat, terrifying winds and hellish wildfires haunting the world these days.
One crowd will tell you that God got so tired of all the indolence and profligate sinning that he went all Old Testament on us and beset us with a series of plagues that would make Egypt quiver.
The other crowd laughs at those believers in God. They ridicule faith and insist science is the only path to understanding.
They say this convoy of pestilence is Mother Earth sick and tired of all of our industry and inventions, such as the air conditioner and automobile. So sick she is that she has developed a fever so pitched it spawns heat waves and lightning and winds so strong as to make Jupiter tremble.
It is a simple matter, they will tell you, of faith versus science.
But there was a breakthrough last week out of Switzerland suggesting that these two forever-divergent camps, battling since Adam and Eve, finally may have converged on something.
The scientist crowd gathered at its 17-mile “supercollider” tunnel, where members have spent the past 60 years searching for God. This facility, I gather, is like the Branch Davidian compound or Ruby Ridge for the smart set. So smart are they, in fact, I am pretty sure you and I footed much of the bill for the $10 billion underground bunker.
Anyway, it’s here that they have been gathering for decades, holding revivals and “smashing atoms.” Again, I am not sure what that is, but I think it is kind of like snake-handling, only far more dangerous and way less interesting.
So, last week, they held a big news conference to announce that they had, in fact, found God. Or at least they had found his particles. In some smashed atoms. It cannot be overstated what an enormous discovery this was.
The gathered crowd “reacted with standing ovations and sometimes tears of joy as scientists announced the discovery,” hailed one report.
“It’s absolutely profound,” a scientist said.
Another scientist said he was “still somewhat stunned” by the amazing discovery.
“It is an incredible thing that it has happened in my lifetime,” said another scientist, Peter Higgs, who appears to be some sort of prophet who years ago predicted that scientists would one day find God’s particles amid the ruins of smashed atoms.
But, just like church leaders before the Reformation, the leaders of this scientific sect cannot explain exactly what they have discovered or what it means. It is simply too ethereal and mystical for the layperson to comprehend.
“It tells us how the universe was formed and how the universe evolved,” one scientist explained to the faithful. “That is basic information that, from the standpoint of any particle theorist, is worth any price.”
Reports dispatched by the unquestioning faithful were so fantastical and breathless that Mark Twain could not have made them up in Tom Sawyer’s imagination. It would have just been too farcical to believe.
Said another scientist: “The particle we observed is pretty light compared to what we would expect from theory. Observation of a light Higgs particle gives a great deal of impetus to the search for supersymmetry, which may in turn give us a candidate for dark matter.”
Dark matter, indeed.
But that’s not to say that there wasn’t some scientific humor during last week’s conclave. “Thanks, nature!” joked one scientist. It was reported that the crowd laughed at this joke.
• Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
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