Particle Physics: More Exciting Than Indiana Jones In A Rodeo On A Volcano

October 23, 2012


News Item –  The BBC reported that nuclear physicists in the search for antimatter have had a major breakthrough.  
Scientists at the Switzerland/France CERN particle collider announced the successful capture of an anti-hydrogen atom for almost 16 minutes.

Dr. Skeinman: Well, we’ve come close a few times before.  Once we thought we’d captured one, but it turned out to be a regular hydrogen atom in disguise.  We all had a good laugh, though.  Those atoms… (laughs)… they can be real rascals.  But they’re always good fun.  (pause)  Anti-hydrogen, on the other hand…

Dr. Shields: It’s tricky enough just getting them into the chamber.  Man, those antimatter atoms can smell a trap a mile away.  I mean, you can’t just play casual, you got to be casual. You know what I’m saying?  But this time?  Why this one went in to the chamber?  I don’t know.  I really don’t.

I mean – ha ha ha! – look at that deadpan expression! Ah, hydrogen… I tell you what…

Dr. McCall: Once I realized that anti-hydrogen atom was in the chamber at all, well, I kind of lost my cool.  I was yelling, “He’s in!  He’s in!  Close the door!” (pause)  It’s embarrassing. I sure didn’t help the situation.

Dr. Giles: After McCall flipped, everything just went nuts.  That anti-hydrogen about tore the doors off the place.  I was in there with a chair saying, “Whoa, there.  Easy now.  Take it easy.”   Then Dr. Shields… I don’t know what the hell he was thinking.

Dr. Shields: Look, godammit, Giles was cornered and that atom was mad as hell.  I’d been having lunch and, yeah, maybe I’d had a couple of beers with lunch, what of it?   I bust my ass in that particle collider all day.  So I had a bottle there, and I smashed the end of it off and said, “Okay, anti-hydrogen, listen up.  This can go one of two ways.  You want to go hard?  Then, come on, atom; let’s dance.”

You think I’m afraid to cut an atom? Huh?!

Dr. Giles:  Obviously, that just pissed it off.  So it slams in to me – not Shields, me.  Knocked me right to the ground.

Dr. Pierce: We show up and Giles is on the ground, Shields is waving around that broken bottle.  Jesus.

Dr. Hollister: I told everyone to spread out.  Looked right at that atom and said, “Okay, now.  Let’s all just calm down a little.  All of us.  We just want to have a little talk.  That’s all.”  I told Shields to put down the damn bottle.  That temper of his…

Dr. Pierce: The whole time Hollister is talking that anti-hydrogen atom down – speaking in that calm, baritone of his – we’re just inching forward, inching forward.  Before we know it, we’re at the back of the particle accelerator.  If it’d chosen to fight?  Man, I would hate to have to bet on who comes on top in that fight.

Dr. Hollister:  I said, “We just want about twenty minutes of your time. That’s it.”  It was still pretty agitated, bouncing around, making false starts at people.  So I said, “Fifteen. That’s all, just fifteen minutes and you’re gone.”

“Golly, Dr. Skeinman. Will we ever see it again?” “I don’t know, Dr. McCall. I just don’t know…”

Dr. McCall:  So well all just kept our distance, that thing looking at us.  It was tense. Tense.  But after about ten minutes I think it really saw that we just wanted to talk.  After the time was up, we just stepped aside, opened the doors. I swear it gave us a little nod, like… like it respected us, you know?

Dr. Shields: And then it was gone.  Whoosh.  It was something.  I ain’t kidding.  People talk about the dangers of anti-matter, of particle colliders… they don’t even know.  They don’t even know.

Dr. Hollister: Amen to that.

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About The Byronic Man

Recently voted "The Best Humor Site in America That I, Personally, Write," The Byronic Man is sometimes fiction, but sometimes autobiography. And sometimes cultural criticism. Oh, and occasionally reviews. Okay, it's all those different things, but always humorous. Except on the occasions that it's not. Ah, geez. Look, it's a lot of things, okay? You might like it, is the point.

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28 Comments on “Particle Physics: More Exciting Than Indiana Jones In A Rodeo On A Volcano”

  1. 1pointperspective Says:

    You see a story like this on the news and it’s like, “How can I NOT write about this??!” Am I right?


  2. renée a. schuls-jacobson Says:

    Love it. So positively NOT breathtaking. And yet you, you take that same information and beat it with a stick until it squeaks like a piggie.

    I don’t know what that means, but I don’t get this whole antimatter situation either. Touché.


  3. Go Jules Go Says:

    This might be the only time in my life I laugh at something that includes the word “antimatter.” This really got me – “We show up and Giles is on the ground, Shields is waving around that broken bottle. Jesus.”

    I just saw a giant billboard for NBC’s “Storm Team 6” yesterday on my way to work, and now I think they should dress up and act this out when the weather is mild. I mean c’mon. They owe us that much.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      I would like to see weather teams acting out severe storms, with the camera tilting back and forth and exciting music, like old Star Trek episodes when the ship would get hit by something.


  4. mistyslaws Says:

    I have never been more enthralled with a completely unenthralling subject. I almost fell asleep just reading that first paragraph, yet you then brought it to life with this action adventure story of yours. I bow to your abilities to turn the mundane into high drama and suspense. Having a baby is obviously good for your neurons. Keep up the good work . . . and sleep deprivation experiment, obviously.


  5. Margie Says:

    I still don’t understand the concept of antimatter, but if I ever stumble across an anti-atom I’m going to leave the door open so it can leave without incident.


  6. Michelle Gillies Says:

    I’m so glad everyone made it out in one piece. Except, of course, for the beer bottle.


  7. susielindau Says:

    Have they ever tried disguising themselves?


  8. Jackie Cangro Says:

    I can see this as a one-act play on Broadway. I think a Tony is in your future, B-man.


  9. Sarah Angleton Says:

    Taking on antimatter? I’m impressed. This post is so technical. Nerd 😉


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      I once wrote a short story about a cell who dreamed of evolving. It was a big hit in a small science circle. A very small circle. More of a dot, really.

      Hm… maybe I should re-print it here… thanks! You may have given me a post plan!


  10. Sandy Sue Says:

    Where’s Gene Roddenberry when you really need him?
    (Okay, well, he’s dead. But that’s just next door to anti-matter).


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      “Captain! The ship is surrounded!”
      “Sulu, on screen.”
      “Atoms, captain! Hundreds of them!”
      “Scotty, get us out of here!”
      “Ah can’nae dew it! Thee engines are ooverrrun with ahtoms! We’re ah setting dook!””


  11. She's a Maineiac Says:

    this was freaking hysterical!!

    I may be a little wigged out by the anti-hydrogen….I just ended the chapter in my anatomy book on chemisty and I don’t recall reading about this dude. He’s a crafty lil’ sucker, huh. Hard to prove he exists. In fact, I call bullshit on all atoms. It’s pure fiction, all of it.


  12. Jane Says:

    And now if you could just do something to clarify mini super-massive black holes (as opposed to the Über super-massive ones…) I could feel so much more connected to astrophysics. Thank you in advance 😁


  13. glen van alkemade Says:

    When I read this, my wife was asleep in bed a few feet away, and I did myself an injury suppressing the laughter.


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