Everyone’s happy that those crazy Swiss scientists fired up the Large Hadron Collider without destroying the planet. If you missed it, yesterday at 10:28 a.m. Central European Time physicists turned on a 17-mile underground track that slams subatomic particles into each other at speeds near that of light, hoping to glimpse a new Higgs boson “God particle” that explains why gravity and electricity have a hard time getting along. Or something like that.
Despite all our human arrogance, we still don’t know the basics of how the universe works. The universe is expanding. Why? There could be multiple dimensions. Where? There’s hidden mass out there in space and scientists don’t know what it is, so just chalk it up to “dark matter.” What? Critics worry that this supercollider will create miniature black holes, which have a nasty habit of growing and sucking everything into them, like, say, the entire planet. Rumor has it the original Big Bang was started by Swiss scientists on another Earth.
It all reminds us of marketing, in which planners carefully orchestrate message, media, stimulus and response and hope the right customer particles flow throw the pipeline. Despite all supposed brilliance, we never quite know what will happen. Occasionally the only way to figure something is to set the pieces in motion and see what falls out.