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We've found the 'God particle', but no mermaids

PUBLISHED: 02:00 10 July 2012

The Large Hadron Collider on the French/Swiss border.

The Large Hadron Collider on the French/Swiss border.

Archant

In the same week that scientists hailed the possible discovery of the 'God particle', the American government has been forced to issue a statement reassuring people that mermaids and zombies don't exist - if that's not a conclusive victory for science, I'm not sure what is.

“No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found,” said an official release from the National Ocean Service after the Discovery Channel’s recent broadcast ‘Mermaids: The Body Found’.

“Mermaids – those half-human, half-fish sirens of the sea – are legendary sea creatures.”

The mermaid denial came just weeks after another US government agency – the Center for Disease Control and Prevention – declared there was also no conclusive evidence to suggest that zombies exist.

In a spectacular own goal, the CDC had published an ill-advised ‘tongue-in-cheek’ survival manual on how to survive a zombie apocalypse as a ‘zany’ way to ‘engage new audiences’.

The campaign was followed by a series of cannibalistic attacks in North America, including one in which a 31-year-old Miami man stripped naked and chewed off most of a homeless man’s face. Fail.

“CDC does not know of a virus or condition that would reanimate the dead,” a government spokesman said, while stirring the casserole containing the remains of the ‘creatives’ that came up with the zombie apocalypse campaign.

Meanwhile, back on the Swiss/French border, Cern’s Large Hadron Collider may be about to spew forth the meaning of life after a 45-year hunt to explain how matter attains its mass (stick with me. I’m going to sex this turgid science stuff right up).

Several years ago, a bird pulled off a frightfully clever parody of Dan Brown’s interminable yawn-fest Angels and Demons by disabling Cern’s Large Hadron Collider with “a bit of baguette”.

The LHC, for the unenlightened, is a huge particle accelerator which scientists believe will unlock the so-called ‘God particle’ and recreate the birth of the universe in miniature.

Astro-physics explained brilliantly, for free. Never say I don’t spoil you.

While I don’t know much about unlocking the secrets of the universe (I dropped physics like Newton’s apple from a tree when I was 14), I am fairly sure that the key to the lock wasn’t a baguette dropped by a bird.

According to Cern, a bird dropped a piece of baguette into the atom-smasher’s outdoor machinery causing a short circuit and untold financial damage.

A spokesman confirmed the bread was “naked and unfilled”, ruling out Subway’s feathered customers, and that scientists believed the culprit to be “a bird which had been spotted beforehand near the substation carrying bread.”

In its bid to twist time and prevent scientists from answering the big questions that have plagued mankind since we stopped believing we’d fall off the edge of the world if we sailed for long enough, the bird had made a textbook error.

Everyone is going to notice a bird carrying a baguette: that stuff is YouTube gold. Why take the risk when a well-aimed spot of defecation could have done the job just as well, if not better?

Because the machine wasn’t switched on, the baguette damage was collateral rather than cataclysmic. It would have been adding insult to injury if, in addition to giving us avian flu, birds also created black holes large enough to swallow entire tracts of Europe.

Lunatics and straw-clutching fatalists who believe the world is due to end later this year (when my mortgage is still outstanding? I should be so lucky) claimed that ‘baguette bird’ was an example of the LHC sabotaging itself from the future.

A bit like smoking when you’ve got a history of heart problems in your family, or drinking 12 cocktails and then telling your best friend’s husband that you’ve always wondered what it might be like if you and he got naked and horizontal.

They believe the frequency of Cern’s accidents is more than a coincidence and that the Higgs Boson, which sounds like the double-barrelled surname of a posh boy at boarding school but is, in fact, the particle physicists hope to produce with the LHC, might be ‘abhorrent to nature’.

Avid watchers of Doctor Who take note: this means that the creation of the Higgs Boson at some point in the future would ripple backwards through time to put a stop to whatever it is that had created it in the first place.

I’ll give you a moment to take that in. Frankly, it took me about six hours to even write that sentence and my eyes are still spinning.

Given this science fiction-style scenario, you’d hope that the £10 billion LHC would have come up with something better than a baguette-carrying bird.

An invisible cyborg teleported into the heart of the machine to wage war against time, perhaps, or a tiny alien robot ant hidden in the mail: anything, in short, than a cack-handed French bird on its way to a picnic.

In addition to our avian chum, the LHC has been hit by other mishaps, ranging from an explosion during its construction to a malfunction during its first use.

The devout believe it’s God’s way of calling time on humans messing with the fabric of time, much in the same way He stopped me from making a circuit in an IT lesson at school because He knew I should never be afforded that kind of power. Today a circuit that illuminates a fairy light bulb, tomorrow a particle accelerator that can be derailed by a bird and single-handedly wipe out the world’s supply of Camembert and Champagne (a proper disaster).

Baguettes not withstanding, the LHC hopes that it has finally produced evidence of the famed Higgs Boson particle which will open the door to all kinds of other mysteries, such as the origins and nature of dark matter, extra dimensions in space and why The Voice on BBC1 has been given a second series.

Frankly, if it can be short-circuited by a bird flying overhead, I’m not holding out too much hope that it’ll give us an answer to the meaning of life any time in the near future.

But if it does, I will refer you to my post wholeheartedly and enthusiastically supporting the LHC that I wrote back in 2036, shortly before the mermaid/zombie apocalypse of 2038.

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