The Santa Claus Particle
Hauptmann, the VLHC director, stared out of the window at the distant snow-covered Alps. “You’re going to have to go through this again for Mister Shelby,” he said.
Sitting on the other side of the conference table Kinski and Ravainen looked at each other, like excited schoolboys not wanting to speak over the other but knowing they will anyway. “This isn’t new science…” Ravainen started.
“Feynman speculated that there could be a single electron in the universe,” Kinski cut in, too eager to let his fellow researcher continue, “shuttling back and forth at a near infinite speed. Only one, but in an almost infinite number of positions at an almost infinite number of moments, thus appearing to be everywhere at once.”
From the other end of the table Shelby banged his coffee cup down. “Even I know Feynman banged bongo drums and cracked safes and loved practical jokes and absurdities.” Shelby was the representative of American Conglomeration Incorporated, the behemoth made up of Wal Mart, General Motors, Microsoft, Starbucks, and the dozen or so other corporations that bandied together after President Palin removed the last anti-trust laws in 2023. ACI were the sponsors of the Very Large Hadron Collidor.
“Quantum physics is absurd. But it’s true,” Kinski retorted.
“Are you the bozos that said we couldn’t find the Higgs Boson because it didn’t want to be found?” Shelby blustered.
Hauptmann tried to wave his concerns away in as unobtrusive a way as possible. “You have to remember, gentleman,” he declared, turning away from the window and towards his two junior colleagues, “that there are only three physicists in the room. You’ll need to spell out in words of one syllable exactly what it is that you are saying for Mister Shelby’s benefit if you want to secure funding from our sponsor.”
Kinski sounded exasperated. They had been around the issue three times, each time, he felt, repeating themselves. “The universe if full of cyclical processes: quasars, comets…”
“Words of one syllable,” Hauptmann warned sharply.
“You can’t talk about the Higgs Boson in words of one syllable,” Ravainen complained. He held up fingers. “Bo-son. Two syllables.”
“You people said it was found back in, when was it? 2011? 2012?” Shelby countered. “Then, five years later, you say no, it wasn’t.”
Kinski said, “What if the Higgs Boson is a single cyclical phenomenon, crossing the universe at an unlimited speed, crossing back and forth over the planet on a regular basis.”
“Say, an annual basis,” Ravainen filled in. “Late December.”
“Before moving on, only to reappear a year later.”
Ravainen tried a new tack. “Remember cathode ray tube televisions? A single beam of electrons moving across the screen fast enough to create the illusion of a picture.
Shelby suddenly got it. “You’re saying this single Higgs-Boson, this God particle, crosses and re-crosses the planet so that it can be seen? By the naked eye?”
“Everywhere. Simultaneously. For as long as we remain in its path,” Ravainen explained. “And this is what it would look like.”
A wall-sized screen suddenly filled with a blurred image, like red and white clouds, or a Venn diagram that had had water spilt over it.
“Don’t you see it?” Kinski demanded. “Stare hard.”
Shelby did as he was asked. White clouds in a sort of arc, a large pinkish cloud above, a red circle in the middle. Above, a red shape, topped off with a white circle.
“Santa Claus,” Ravainen and Kinski said in hysterical unison. “The face of Santa Claus.”
Shelby looked at each of the researchers. They had been identified as the best in class, future Nobel laureates. “The Higgs Boson is Santa Claus? You want me to give over the Very Large Hadron Collider to investigate whether the Higgs Boson is Santa Claus? Max, back me up, this is absurd.”
Hauptmann turned to Shelby. “Yes, it is absurd, Stephen, but so is the double slit experiment. So is the reality of the square root of minus one, but we know that you have to use it for certain real-world calculations.”
Shelby looked back at the face. It was beginning to come together: red hat, white bobble, beard, eyes. “So, why haven’t we found any trace of this before?”
Hauptmann paused momentarily. “Because we always close at Christmas.”
Robert Bagnall is usually a suit & tie-wearing corporate wageslave, but the credit crunch has made him time rich and allowed him to revive a writing career began in the 1990s. He has delusions he’ll sell a novel in 2012 and blogs at http://number14-diaryofaself-build.blogspot.com. He’s allergic to cats and doesn’t like dogs.