A bird has pulled off a 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 housed on the French/Swiss border which scientists hope will unlock the so-called ‘God particle’ and recreate the birth of the universe in miniature.
Astro-physics explained brilliantly, for free. Don’t say I don’t spoil you.
While I don’t know much about unlocking the secrets of the universe (I dropped physics when I was 14), I am fairly sure that the key to the lock isn’t a baguette dropped by a bird.
According to Cern, a bird – still on the wing from authorities – dropped a piece of baguette into the atom-smasher’s outdoor machinery last week and caused a short circuit and untold financial damage.
A spokesman confirmed the bread was “naked and unfilled”, ruling out customers from Subway, 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 and that the Earth was the centre of the universe, the bird had made a textbook error.
Everyone is going to notice a bird carrying a baguette. I’d be surprised if grainy footage from a mobile phone doesn’t turn up on You’ve Been Framed – 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 be 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 will end in 2012 (when my mortgage is still outstanding? I should be so lucky) have claimed that ‘baguette bird’ is 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 he took you from behind.
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 was that had created it in the first place.
Let me give you a moment while your brain stops 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 feathered friend, 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 a halt to 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 Lindt chocolate and Camembert.
Baguettes not withstanding, scientists are planning to fire up the LHC in the near future to see if it can produce the 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 Richard Hammond thought that advertisement for Morrisson’s was a good idea.
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 all to my post wholeheartedly and enthusiastically supporting the LHC that I wrote in 2036.
*** Apologies if you thought I had fallen into a black hole created by the Hadron Collider. I haven’t. I’ve just been working myself into an early grave, which is far less exciting ***