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Apparently, Einstein’s Theory of Relatively is all relative. Scientists are claiming they have clocked neutrinos – tiny particles smaller than atoms – travelling slightly faster than the speed of light.
I don’t know what neutrinos are but they sound like a healthy snack food.
According to Scientific American (which I am surely not), a Sept. 23 physics collaboration clocked elementary particles called neutrinos making the underground journey from a lab in Switzerland to one in Italy. The neutrinos made the trip 60 nanoseconds faster than they would have traveling at the speed of light.
Now this is causing scientists to have a cow since Einstein said that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, and a neutrino traveling faster would blow Einstein’s whole theory – meaning that all that babble, from black holes to the big bang, everything we know today as physics would have to be rethought. Which is fine by me because I never understood it anyway.
The only thing I do know about physics is that an 80 pound 9 year old on a zip line travels slower than a fat dyke with more body mass. I proved this theory on vacation this summer when I agreed to a zip line canopy tour. What was I thinking? When the topic came up I should have said “no” in a nanosecond.
But back to neutrinos, which sound like curiously scientific breath mints.
Scientists are skeptical. Even a little pissed. One professor of physics at Surrey University in England said: “The scientists are right to be extremely cautious about interpreting these findings. If the experiment proves to be correct and neutrinos have broken the speed of light, I will eat my boxer shorts on live TV.”
Omigod. Like daily life with Snookie isn’t reality enough?
But here’s what I want to know. If the neutrinos traveled faster than the speed of light, who the heck saw them? Clark Kent? Nobody could, so how do we know this is true?
Obviously, my limited understanding of physics was the reason Bonnie managed to convince me to go on that ridiculous zip line ride in the first place. And as I read about scientists all over the world accusing the neutrino experiment scientists of making an “embarrassing gaffe” in claiming to have recorded particles breaking the speed of light, what I do understand is the meaning of “embarrassing gaffe.”
Picture this writer dressed in a mountain climbing harness and helmet, trying to get into the van to take me up the mountain. The adventurers in front of me (including that 9 year old) just took a big step and hopped up into the back door of the van. You think I could take one giant step for mankind? No. I had to sit my butt on the van floor, swivel around and crawl into the bus on my hands and knees. Clue that zipping wasn’t an AARP activity? I did wonder why there was no senior discount, or an old-lady step stool to get me into the bus.
Have you ever zipped? Of course not, it’s insane. A 20-year old guide who looks like Big Foot attaches you to a canvas harness on a block and tackle pulley system, stretched on a cable between teeny tiny platforms on trees.
“If you feel yourself spinning right or left, simply turn into the spin, like a car turning into a skid in the snow,” counseled the guide. Crap. Physics again. I never understood that concept.
“I can’t do this,” I said to nobody in particular.
“You have to,” said Sasquatch. There’s no other way down.”
I hit the air, the harness locked to the cable and I was off, swifter than a speeding neutrino, screaming, arms in the air, hanging by my thighs and crotch. What part of the word zip didn’t you understand, you moron? God, don’t let me pee!
I started to spin, helpless to right myself, zipping backwards toward the tree platform. “Incoming! Incoming!” I howled, sure I’d wipe out the unfortunate mountain man poised to snag me.
What beautiful tree canopy??? With my eyes shut I could have been zipping over chicken coops in Gumboro. Zooming into the next outpost, hands in a death grip at the harness holds, praying I wouldn’t kill anybody, I wound up suspended in mid air, swinging like a fresh side of beef.
So you see, theories of physics elude me. And as I read more about this neutrino controversy (Neutrinos, good or bad?) I wanted to text Dr. Stephen Hawking and ask WFT?
One scientist wrote “Any physicist worth even a fraction of their weight in neutrinos will be shaking their head, knowing intuitively that the result is simply wrong.”
If I’d been able to calculate my weight in neutrinos I might have reconsidered that whole zip line thing. Was I proud I survived it? Yes. Would I do it again? No way. It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.
So here’s my connection to the neutrino caper. If this discovery means the end to the most famous equation of all time, and E actually does not equal MC squared, it means that time travel might be possible.
Holy Michael J.Fox. Time travel. And if so, I’d go right back to the awful day in August, when Bonnie asked me to go on the zip line with her and I’d say “Have a great time, kiddo, I’ll be waiting for you here at the snack bar, having me some supernovas and harmonic convergence.
Evading the zip experience = Me Completely Square, but it would have been worth my weight in honey nut neutrinos.

2 Comments

  1. Well, that was edifying – I thought neutrinos were those large rodents that have invaded some places in the south – smart and funny – who could ask for more – o yes, good-looking, too. And your site has automatic spell check. Who knew places had only one e. sally

    • Actually, I initially thought Neutrinos were a kind of cookie…


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