Memo To: Matter
Date: September 12, 2008
Subject: The REAL Secret
The pressure is on, baby! Forget about the rack, forget about waterboarding. They've turned on the LHC and they're waiting for you. In case you haven't heard, or don't care, that would be LHC as in Large Hadron Collider. Or as in Let's Hear the Confession. You see, they want you to give up the secret.
I don't know why it came this. You used to be so simple, so solid, so there. I grew up seeing you, bumping into you, counting on you. Matter was the one reality I couldn't deny. Nobody could. But now I'm told you're sort of there. What's really there are atoms. And atoms are really protons, neutrons, and electrons. And protons, neutrons, and electrons are really gluons, leptons, mesons, muons, quarks--a whole zoo of nano-nano things, hadrons being in there somewhere. And all these subatomic things, deep down, are really something else. So why not spill the beans? Tell us what they are. Forces? Geometric points? Chunks of space-time? Strings of energy? Membranes? No one seems to know.
They're going to smack you around a bit to find out. Put you in the largest "experimental" chamber science has ever built. This sucker is seventeen miles in circumference and runs through two countries. Don't take my word for it, take a look. Pretty impressive, eh? You can feel important if you'd like, but I'd be terrified. They're going after the smallest stuff you've got. I don't know why it takes something so big to twist the truth out of something so little, but that's the deal. It's not how it works in outer space.
Right now they've shot a few of your protons into the LHC. They're shaping them into a beam and revving them up to the speed of light (well, 99.9999991% thereof). Sometime this fall they'll direct one beam into another and the demolition derby will begin. Six hundred million head-on collisions per second, each one spewing out thousands of particles. Sounds ouchy to me, but if that's what it takes to get you to talk . . . .
I can save you a lot of grief by telling you what they want. They want the secret. They want the Higgs. The Higgs field, the Higgs particle, the Higgs mechanism, whatever. They think the Higgs will tell them how energy converts into mass, how a "field" becomes a "particle," how Matter ends up as something we all bump into. Sounds like creation to me--and to them. That's why they call the LHC the Genesis machine. And why they call the Higgs the most fundamental particle there is, even the God Particle.
So if you've got a Higgs somewhere, fork it over. If you don't have one, if, omigosh, there is no Higgs, . . . well, let's not even go there. Once the LHC gets cooking, about a year from now, one ought to pop up every 2.5 seconds. Finding it will be the trick. It's not like a needle in a haystack, it's like a needle in a million haystacks. You could save us all some trouble with a few "Here" signs.
If you "cooperate," if you really start talking, you could even tell us about the Big Bang. And that's a big deal. But not as big as the REAL deal, the REAL secret. No one's talking about it right now, but shortly after the Bang you were nothing but hydrogen. That was the universe. The REAL secret is how you turned into opera, into love and hate, truth and lies, compassion and vengeance. How did hydrogen get around to reading memos? That's what I want to know, and I'm afraid the LHC will never get it out of you.
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COPYRIGHT (C) 2008 JOHN N. KOTRE
Friday, September 12, 2008
Memo To: Matter