Science and Society

Good Scientists & Mad Scientists

October 22, 2015

Multiple Pages
Good Scientists & Mad Scientists

There are good scientists and there are mad scientists. The good ones have invented the safety pin, central heating, and Italian coffee machines. The mad ones have invented smog, Roundup, and the military-industrial complex. The good ones tread with great care where God’s magnificent creation is concerned; the mad ones would cut down the Tree of Life to find out how many rings it has. The mad ones are also those who, at the cost of billions of taxpayers’ dollars, have invented a gigantic machine of unbelievable complexity and superhuman sophistication that produces nothing at all—not even a fart.

It is named the Large Hadron Collider.

Now, this is the largest machine ever built in the entire history of mankind. A sort of circular tunnel 17 miles long and buried deep into a bucolic stretch of land at the border between Switzerland and France, it has been filled to the brim with the most elaborate technical gear possible while about 1,000 scientists are busy every day to keep the monster in motion.

Its aim, we hear, is “to allow physicists to test the predictions of different theories of particle physics, high-energy physics and in particular, to prove or disprove the existence of the theorized Higgs boson and the large family of new particles predicted by super-symmetric theories, and other unsolved questions of physics, advancing human understanding of physical laws.”

Amazing, you may say, particularly if Mr. Higgs the boson one day steps out of the microcosmic undergrowth and declares himself. On the other hand, and as for now, not much has come to pass. Unsolved questions of physics persist in being just that, and the great world formula that might be the key to all existence remains as elusive as an atypical quark on an uncharted mission.

“It is here that we suddenly realize with a shudder that the LHC has a far more sinister side to it than generally imagined.”

That is perhaps the reason why we are treated in regular intervals to news stating that something important is brewing in the LHC that will soon be made known to an astonished world. Unfortunately, and as already said, these announcements have so far not been followed up by really tangible results. Which is perhaps the reason why now and then some interesting propositions are brought forward, for example that Einstein’s inane relativity theory could be proved somewhere deep in the belly of the LHC. Which sounds perfectly possible to someone like myself, who would think that all it needs is an electron hurled so fast around the tunnel that it finds itself waiting for itself when arriving at the point of its departure.

In the same vein run statements suggesting that the big bang theory could be proved by sort of developing a mini-version of the former. Or that the capacity exists to create miniature black holes by compressing matter so densely that, even if infinitely small, it is in essence of the same genus as the giant cosmic monsters that are capable of swallowing entire galaxies.

It is here that we suddenly realize with a shudder that the LHC has a far more sinister side to it than generally imagined. Because what transpires is that the mad wizard-apprentices who run it have broken into God’s innermost sanctuary and are using utensils and possessions without having the faintest idea of what they might unleash.

Mini black holes? Imagine that one would be created there, perhaps by a scientist too long on Prozac or coke who finally went totally insane. Couldn’t it be perfectly possible that this is the natural way of a black hole anyway to start its career, namely infinitely small while beginning to devour everything around it? Which, needless to say, means that our beautiful old planet would be merely a peanut on its menu.

Small wonder, thus, that there are always more weighty voices who openly warn that the LHC is not beneficial for mankind at all, but is in fact a veritable doomsday machine that could wipe us all out in an instant. This becomes even more pronounced if one of the voices belongs to a highly respected physicist like Stephen Hawking, who even suggested that the damn thing might open the door to another dimension.

Meanwhile, the giant apparatus continues to slurp money like a blue whale slurps plankton. This was fine while the dough lay thick on the ground, but now, with the euro all in tatters and economies shrinking fast, the national exchequers are getting more reluctant to cough up the usual subsidies. Taking this and the always more apparent incertitude and suspicions surrounding the apparatus, every sane person would probably agree that the LHC should be closed down without any delay. But this will of course unleash the vehement resistance of everyone involved, particularly the powerful high-tech industry, which has made enormous profits out of this gigantic folly.

So what to do? The Swiss have a marvelous democratic invention called Volksabstimmung, or plebiscite, and it only needs a well-organized one to stop the Large Hadron Collider forever from creating any serious mischief.

That apart, allow me to dwell a moment on Professor Hawkins’ notion that the LHC might open a door to another dimension. Which would mean that this dimension must be situated somewhere next door like Alice’s Wonderland, only to be entered by jumping through a looking glass. But this cannot be true. Because our known dimensions are not a thing apart, but a fragment of a much larger dimension which is above us, below us, around us, and within us. The only problem is that God in His wisdom has denied us access to it while we are alive. Yet there are instances when the gates open a fraction for the righteous as a foretaste of things to come.

This is known to any simple person, myself included, who keeps an image of the Holy Virgin on the dashboard of his car in the hope that she will bless our journeys. The same is true of any modern philosopher who has no tolerance for existentialism, deconstructionism, the Frankfurt School boobies, or any such godless nonsense, but merges Plato’s teachings and Christ’s message of love and compassion with perfect ease and inscrutable logic into one numinous body of thought that at times seems to light him from within.

Now you, as a staunch atheist or dedicated agnostic, may scoff at this bunkum and point out how much it reeks of frankincense and Catholic doctrine. To which I have nothing to add. But I could suggest that you too might have once had a similar experience, though without taking the pains to define it, let alone following it up.

Perhaps when you were a mountain climber who, after a long and arduous ascent, stood finally on a high summit and beheld the world around you. Who saw an endless succession of mountaintops in the clear and primordial light, saw clouds drifting between them, saw shimmering lakes deep down in a valley, saw an immensely high sky of an unbelievable pure blue. Saw it all and felt moved.

Or when you were a sailor holding the wheel during a star-studded night, perhaps while ghosting along with the trade winds toward Trinidad and Tobago, and the silent and all-encompassing immensity around you reverberated deep in your soul as a mysterious sentience, the intuitive recognition of a mighty and timeless river beyond any known dimension, one that could only be felt and never put into words…

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