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The great beyond—our future

Stop what you are doing and look out the window. Drink it in. Relax as the gentle rays of the spring sun pull your eyelids toward sleep or the ponderous silence of the night thrills you with expectancy. Go ahead, do it now. I’m not going anywhere.

Wasn’t that nice? Enjoy it while it lasts.

I’m not trying to scare you. I’m not trying to dig up some quack’s conspiracy theory or recruit you to my cave. I’m just reminding you that the earth might be swallowed by a scientist-spawned black hole.

You don’t believe me.

Fine, read it for yourself. Now take back those nasty things you thought about me. For those of you too lazy to read the article I found and linked for you or wise enough to know I was going to explain it anyway (I’ll assume the latter, of course), here is the summary: Some lab in Switzerland spent eight billion dollars to make a machine that supercharges protons and smashes them together. Something like the only use you and your friends could find for Matchbox cars, only on the atomic level. The thing is, no one knows what will happen when they do this.

They think everything will be fine. Probably. I mean, yes, there’s an outside chance that they might destroy the entire earth. But it’s not likely. It’s more likely that it will simulate an environment reminiscent of the ‘big bang’—the cosmic energy explosion scientists postulate could have created the universe. They think it might provide them a better understanding of the origins of the universe and, consequently, the workings thereof. But it might dissolve it and us into utter non-existence.

See, it seems that at some point, anti-matter (which might be what causes black holes) has been created. Probably some time around the creation of the universe, according to some theories. So, re-creating the universe just might re-create antimatter. Which just might swallow the earth, the solar system, or the entire universe. Genius of the generation Stephen Hawking wrote a paper in 1974 that said something about how any antimatter we might create would just evaporate. But that was back before anyone thought about making any. And black holes haven’t exactly evaporated.

Here’s the question no one has mentioned yet, but I find myself returning to rather frequently: Aren’t there some rather far-reaching moral and ethical implications to attempting to reenact the creation of a universe? Like, wouldn’t creating a universe disrupt the normal flow of things for the universe in which it was created? And isn’t the universe constantly expanding, as far as we know? I mean, even if two protons don’t immediately create a new universe, aren’t we guaranteeing our eventual demise? Or maybe a universe can be contained. That might be fun. It would sure beat a model solar system made out of foam and coat hangars.

But this is a grand moment in history. Two of the century’s most imaginative authors (Dan Brown and Douglas Adams) are being mashed together and tried in a Hawaiian court.

Oh, yes, I forgot to tell you how we are going to avoid this long-foreseen technological self-destruction—some dude in Hawaii sued them.

For the first time in its existence, CourtTV has a function. Far too ridiculous to merit legitimate networks’ coverage, this case would be the most amazing display of rhetorical logic imaginable. Imagine trying to argue this case for either side.

No, your honor, we can not present a single piece of evidence that would prove the danger of this experiment. Universe creation has only been accomplished once that we know of, and none of us were there to record its immediate effects.

In our defense, we would like to clearly state that we are attempting to perform an action for the express purpose of experiencing something unknown—indeed, unknowable—and earth-shattering, metaphorically speaking, of course. We hope. Yes, there is theoretical cause to suspect we may permanently annihilate the planet, but the potential to more fully understand quantum physics demands some risk-taking.

I was going to suggest at this point that the only way to fairly allow this experiment to continue would be to hold a world-wide vote. And wouldn’t a world-wide vote be fun? It would promote international unity and cooperation. After all, we all share vested interest in the item at risk here—existence. To make it fair, we would have to allow each country to determine how to cast their votes. So, dictatorships like Cuba could have a single representative cast a vote exactly equal to the population of that nation. We can expect vote-rigging in Kenya, with the probability of murderous riots regardless of the outcome. The Unites States will see countless hours of made-up arguments about which scientist is a racist and who will end the war most effectively, while the only people who really understand the issue make fun of everyone else on hilarious TV shows. And the election process will occur in twelve stages over a period of sixteen years.

I was going to suggest such an election, if only for the sixteen years it will buy us. Then I realized that the really extremely poor of the world will probably vote to go ahead with the experiment so that the eight billion that was not used to provide them with luxuries like food and water will actually be put to good use, and the vote will mandate the experiment.

And given that the experiment is going to occur anyway, I’d rather be eaten by a black hole than experience a sixteen-year US campaign.

Disclaimer: I usually wouldn’t try to discuss advanced scientific issues, given the fact that I’m relatively inept in the field (relative to the average third-grader pulling the legs off bugs). However, I made an exception in this case due to the fact that even the scientists wanting to do the experiment really don’t know what they’re doing, apparently. The complete lack of hard evidence and scientific explanation in this post doesn’t even have all that much to do with my inability to understand and re-communicate the issue. At least, I don’t think it does.


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