The Large Human Collider

The press room was filled with the noise and light of hundreds of cameras. This was a momentous occasion in humanity’s evolution. Journalists from every corner of the world had gathered here, eagerly awaiting any new developments. A hush of excitement descended over the crowd as a man stepped out from the side of the stage and walked up to the podium. The excitement continued to grow as the man tapped the microphone several times and cleared his throat. He shuffled his notes, accidentally dropped them and struggled to pick them back up.

‘Professor Alban will take your questions now,’ a disembodied voice announced over the PA.

The Professor surveyed the faces through the glare and pointed aimlessly into the crowd.

‘Hi Professor, John McQueen here from Physics Monthly. For those who haven’t heard news of this experiment yet, could you quickly explain what exactly you are doing and what you hope to achieve?’

The professor, with a look of disdain upon his face that he usually reserved for undergraduates, considered this question for a few moments. He cleared his throat and moved closer to the microphone.

‘My work in theoretical physics for the last twenty years has been dedicated to one problem. The problem of consciousness. Humanity has struggled with the problem of consciousness for millennia. Why does it exist at all in the universe? How did it arise? What is its purpose? Countless numbers of great men have considered such questions and failed to find any answers. I believe I have. In a flash of inspiration while hiking through the Swiss countryside the answers flooded my mind.’ Professor Alban took a moment to recollect his finest moment.

‘The idea occurred to me that consciousness itself is a field. A field that permeates the entire universe. Very similar in mathematical structure to the electromagnetic, gravitational and nuclear fields. Some objects interact strongly with this field which allows matter to become conscious of itself. Other objects, like journalists and monkeys, are less strongly coupled with this field. Their consciousness as a result is less well developed.’ Professor Alban sniggered to himself at his perfectly crafted joke, but the gathered press didn’t seem conscious that he had made one. He took a sip of water before resuming.

‘As the great Albert Einstein once said, the rest was mere mathematics. I sat down at my desk that evening and worked out the theory on paper. The equations flowed from my mind like music. I merely had to notate it. The mathematics behind the theory is quite simple and it contains such elegant equations, some would say beautiful.’ A female journalist in the front row could barely contain her sobs of joy as she dried her eyes with a napkin.

‘In order to prove the existence of this field we first needed to find the force carrying boson that the media have nicknamed the “Love Boson”. This theoretical particle is the fundamental building block of consciousness. My theory has shown that love is fundamentally a subatomic process. Love is the medium by which matter can interact with the consciousness field. Much the same way that light is a consequence of matter interacting with the electromagnetic field. In order to find this Love Boson and prove my theory, I had to convince CERN to spend 20 billion euro and build me a collider. They were easy to convince when I explained to them that an understanding of the Love Boson would greatly aid them in their own love lives. It would allow them to seduce anyone of their choosing… Without a moment’s hesitation, they undertook the project and built me this 27km long collider to test my theory. I’ll take another question.’

‘Hi, Karl here from Scientific European. I wonder if you could explain a little more about what is already known about the Love Boson. There are have been previous experiments both here and elsewhere to find it, have there not?’

‘Hi Karl, nice of you to come. Well as I said, I theorised the existence of the Love Boson and the consciousness field about ten years ago. The mathematics behind the theory were rigorously proven beyond doubt. Experimentalists being the way they are, weren’t happy with this. They wanted experimental proof. The first experiments we undertook were at the Stanford Linear Animal Collider or SLAC in California. Now it’s important to understand that in order to detect particles interacting with consciousness, things that already possess consciousness need to be collided together.’ The Professor took a breath. He didn’t like talking about these early experiments. They didn’t go so well at all. Too much blood and gore flying about at a fraction of the speed of light.

‘Our very first experiment used two dogs, my pet dog Laika and a mongrel we found on the streets. Dogs of course are very loving creatures and we thought that they’d be perfect subjects for the experiment. Our preliminary studies had indicated that dog matter had a strong connection to the consciousness field. Anyone who owns a dog will understand this. The experiment ran continuously for several weeks. In that time we exhausted all of the local dog pounds around Stanford and eventually had to resort to abducting dogs in the middle of the night. Ultimately we failed, the collider couldn’t reach a high enough energy to generate the Love Boson itself. But the results were promising. They showed a peak in mass-energy resonance at 125GeV, exactly the region where the Love Boson was theorised to exist. Another independent research facility in Germany named ELSA or the European Linear Salmon Accelerator tried the same experiment with fish. Their results were a little less definitive. People had issues with the constant smell of rotten fish which began to permeate the facility. Seagulls began attacking physicists their on their way to work. It was a real problem. Does that answer your question Karl?’

The journalist nodded and buried his head back into his notes. ‘Any more questions?’ Professor Alban asked. A hand in the front row shot up. ‘Hi, Pei Chi here from Chinese Physicist. It has been widely rumoured that this experiment will be the first particle physics experiment in history to use live human subjects in the collider. People have said that this is the only way to definitively prove the theory. Can you confirm or deny this rumour?’

The professor opened his mouth to answer but the voice in his ear told him to close it. The crowd’s attention was drawn to movement in the curtain behind the stage. An elderly woman in a wheel chair emerged followed by an elderly man pushing the wheelchair. The man pushed the woman to the table on the stage and took a seat himself. A waiter emerged with a tray of tea and biscuits and delicately set them down on the table. A sense of giddiness settled over the crowd.

Professor Alban was glad of the distraction. He didn’t enjoy being the centre of attention. All eyes, biological and digital, were fixed on the couple as they sipped their tea and nibbled on their biscuits.

‘We are very proud to unveil our two brave pioneers, Mike and Patsy Sheridan. We thank them and offer them a round of applause,” the voice announced over the PA. The crowd were on their feet with rapturous applause. Several people began hollering like wild apes. The wild apes caged in the back began hollering like humans. Others clutched their tear strewn faces, barely containing their joy. The elderly couple looked uncomfortable with all the attention but they remained relatively calm. It helped that the waiter had spiked their tea with a mild tranquilliser.

As the crowd began to settle down, Professor Alban tapped the microphone and asked the crowd to take their seats. ‘Any more questions from the audience?’ Professor Alban asked. Almost every hand in the room shot up at the same time. The professor pointed indiscriminately into the crowd. Three people started asking questions simultaneously. Their vocal sparring continued until the dominant alpha male shouted louder than his opponents. ‘I HAVE A QUESTION FOR THE COUPLE’, he shouted before realising he was now the only one shouting. ‘I have a question for the couple,’ he repeated in a quieter voice.

‘Why have you volunteered for this experiment? Surely you are aware that you are giving your life?’ he asked.

Mike set down his cup of tea and looked solemly into the crowd. ‘Many people donate their bodies to science when they die. However it is always the medical profession who benefit from this. Physicists never seem to benefit from people donating their bodies. It seemed unfair.’ Patsy nodded vigorously.

‘Mike and I both hate doctors you see,’ Patsy chimed in. ‘Absolutely hate the sight of them. They cause nothing but trouble. The last thing I wanted was some young doctor cutting my body open to examine my spleen. What possible medical advance could be made by looking at my spleen? We both wanted to donate our bodies to real science. Physics!’ The crowd broke out into a spontaneous round of applause.

‘We found an advertisement for this experiment in our bingo newsletter and we knew that we had found the glorious end that we were looking for,’ Mike continued. ‘Patsy and I love each other more than anything you see. The thought of dying alone without her was unbearable. Tell me, what is more romantic than having the constituent atoms of your body collide with those of your true love at half the speed of light?’ The crowd stood up to give the couple a thundering ovation.

The voice in Professor Alban’s ear told him to start wrapping things up. He tapped the microphone and the crowd took their seats. ‘The time has come,’ he said. ‘Mike and Patsy will now be prepared for the experiment.’ Two porters walked out on stage to help the elderly couple. A trio of trumpeters emerged from the upper balcony. They played a sweet, yet melancholic fanfare for the couple as they left the stage.

A cameramen followed the couple as they were lead through the facility into a white examination room. The crowd stared at the screen in giddy anticipation. A team of physicists laden with measuring equipment checked Mike and Patsy for any sources of contamination. Everything came back normal and Professor Alban was given the signal to proceed. He instructed Mike and Patsy to say their goodbyes. The elderly couple embraced and held each other. They both struggled to maintain their brave facades as tears began to wet their faces. But this couple were no ordinary people. Mike and Patsy were pioneers. They were about to join an elite group of people who have pushed the frontiers of human knowledge. They kissed each other goodbye and took their separate seats in the adjoining cubicles.

Their chairs moved along rails built into the floor and positioned Mike and Patsy to opposite ends of the collider. Professor Alban called his lead engineer on the radio. The collider was prepped and ready to start. Professor Alban thought that he should say something. Something momentous. Something to mark this epoch changing moment. But nothing came to mind. He shrugged and gave the order to begin.

And with that final order, one of humanity’s greatest moments began to unfold. Mike and Patsy began accelerating along the circular track. They moved slowy at first until their velocity approached one tenth of the speed of light. The parallel particle beams that contained the remnants of their bodies were then crossed and collided inside the machines detectors. And so ended the lives of two of our greatest souls. The data the collision generated will take many months to analyse. But these two brave pioneers have changed human history forever. We will never forget them! Neither should you!