As I have mentioned many times, the modern novel is in bad repair descending into sappiness, mundane slack philosophizing, and moral dribbling. My past reading has been almost exclusively non-fiction. This genre has progressed leaps and bounds lately.
I wish to review---if you will--- one such book I finished reading a couple of months ago: PRESENT AT THE CREATION by Amir D. Aczel.
This is the story of the Large Hadron Collider, its construction, cost, purpose, and controversy. I enjoyed it immensely, although the mathematical science data eluded me, I must admit. Briefly the Large Hadron Collider is a project of CERN, the European Organization of Nuclear Research. It's a 16.5 mile-long circular tunnel under the French-Swiss countryside where they release protons in opposite directions and with the help of many huge magnets whip these protons up to the speed of 99.999999.1 percent of the speed of light( why they can't achieve the speed of light---186,000 miles an a second---check Einstein's Relativity), and then smash them in a purposely head-on collision. How cool is that? What comes out of these collisions are numerous and sometimes puzzling mini particles, which the scientists study to their hearts content. They're hoping to find the Higgs boson which is a particle---in theory only---that is suppose to supply all other particles with their mass---the God particle, so named. They don't even know if it exists! and they spent billions of dollars constructing this race tunnel to find it. If, however, they do find it, this will give them a huge understanding of how the universe came to be. Stephen Hawking, the huge brain in the wheelchair, doesn't think they will find it and bet a sum of money to that intent.
It's all very complicated when you get into the details of this scientific jumbo, and although I get the gist, I'm always tongue-tied when I try to explain it. I easily forget the details which are many, for sure.
But I can't help thinking that this is just a smash-up derby, a demolition derby, if you will, propagated by the upper echelon of brain power, but a smash-up derby nevertheless. Maybe like your beer-soaked Friday night at the car race track where Jake and Bubba smash their old wrecks in a head-on for the amusement of the rowdy crowd?
As a child---and I would venture to guess this would be the norm for many other men--- I would play with my dinkies, model trains, etc., and arrange them in a semblance of domesticated harmony and bliss. "It's a beautiful day in Sunnydale today." Then after perusing the tranquil scene I would derail the train and have myself one smash-up upheaval that would reduce "Sunnyday" to ruins. It seemed somewhat satisfying. It has to be an innate genetic thing with boys, I don't know. I just wonder if this Hadron Collider thing is the same only at a higher meaningful level---if there is a meaning.
So I thought up a scene where these scientists are getting ready for the latest smash-up of protons. In this scene are five scientists: Ernst Gerbalvheel, Germany; Horst Blitzberger von horreshitten-Kurtz, Austria( he received the Nobel Prize for spelling his name rapidly without error FIVE times!); Ivan Illiitchenen Ivanostanlasov, Russia; Bert B. Bucket, UK; and Studs Sneed, USA. Dialogue goes this way:
Ernst, you're here! we're almost ready. Jeez, I'm shaken, man.
(laughs) What are we smashing today there, Horst?
Proton A(abracadabra), with Proton B(Bennyhill). Goddam, it's going to be epic. Epic!, Ernst.
Did I hear ya all saying we're smashing today?
Yep, Studs. Proton A and B. Classic, man.
Hey, Bert, get the snapps. We going to have a mash-up today. uhha. Weeehee.
Vodka for me, Bert. I love destruction with a buzz. Yukkkkk.
You Russians, Ivanostich.
I'm so goddam excited!
I can't feel my legs!
I can't see! I can't see!
My heart's pounding!
Let go of my hand! You're hurting me, Horst.
Here it is....the collision! NOW!!!
Yaaaa, yaaaa, Holy shit! Did you see that?!! Holy shit!
High fives all around there, boys..........
Anyway, Perhaps the Large Hadron Collider will answer all our questions about the origins of the universe, but I doubt strongly if this explanation will make this sorry world a better place to live for all.
Next post: Some truly awful and troubling modern novels.