The Large Hadron Collider...
Some people are worried that recreating the first moment of the Big
Bang under the Swiss countryside might be a trifle... well,
dangerous. The new particle accelerator at CERN was switched on
recently, and put through its paces. So far, no collisions of those
pesky sub-atomic particles have been performed for our general
amusement, but we now know that the scientist guys have got their
engineering sums right, and will create the first sub-atomic
rendezvous some time this Autumn.
So why the worry? If you created a list setting out the order of nations who most desired to destroy the planet, the Swiss would certainly feature somewhere near the bottom of it. Yes, CERN is an international organisation. But not of military men and women. The Big Bang consisted of the entire energy of the Universe, primed in an egg-cup. The LHC is on a somewhat smaller scale. It's safe enough.
The fact is that a lot of the anxiety has been generated in
the USA, whose own similar project was shelved early on for lack of
funds. Simply put, the Europeans have got there first, and may
uncover some of the secrets of the universe. Naturally, the
Europeans are more excited, and proud, than anxious.
During the 1950s, the US military conducted a series of nuclear bomb tests. Many of them were accompanied by reports of UFO activity, by trained observers and radar. It seemed that someone, or someTHING, was watching the tests with keen interest. As clouds of radioactive fallout routinely drifted across the continental USA after the testing, green fireballs were observed. Were they UFOs, or some natural phenomenon associated with radioactive fallout?
In those days, the safety of the general population was of secondary importance to the military mind, bent on discovering how the secrets of the universe could be put to good use to tame the Russians (and we British were no better, choosing instead the Australian outback to conduct our own atomic bomb tests).
So, extrapolating this thought, if the LHC is dangerous to humanity and the Earth, then we should now expect UFOs aplenty over the mountainous terrain of beautiful Switzerland.
Which is strange,
really, because that's exactly what I saw this summer, whilst on
vacation there, in the northern alps.
My cousin and I were walking across the top of a hill at night,
overlooking the valley towards the Appenzeller Alps. The majestic
mountain Santis created a stunning backdrop for a valley full of low
cloud, which appeared like a sea of cotton wool in the moonlight.
Looking across the valley, I saw a lone white light bobbing around
near the distant mountain. It appeared to be casting a light over
the mountain, but it's movement was what caught my eye. It moved
erratically, and quickly, bobbing up and down, and side to side. A
most unnatural movement for a light aircraft or helicopter.
My Swiss cousin watched the light too, and I commented on how weird it was. "Do you believe in UFOs?" she asked, clearly oblivious of my long-standing interest in the subject. I chuckled. In a few moments, the low cloud began to lift, rapidly, and we were suddenly wrapped in fog. The UFO, and indeed, the mountain, had now disappeared!
I don't know what we witnessed. It may have been a plane whose perceived movement was affected by the highly unusual atmospheric conditions of the valley that evening. But I do wonder whether our new scientific excursion into the sub-atomic world might bring forth the visitors who routinely scoured the skies of the south western United States over 50 years ago.
The only problem with all that is that if we know one thing about the UFO phenomenon, it's that it's almost completely unpredictable. As unpredictable, perhaps, as reproducing the conditions of the Big Bang.
Article written by Andy Lloyd (check out Andy's other articles on our sister site)
© Andy Lloyd - 10th February 2009