What is the Universe? What underlies everything? We have built a 20 billion dollar machine designed to decipher the DNA of Creation. It sits underground in Geneva. It lets us peek at Creation at the moment of Creation. Literally. And, it is designed to let us know what in fact EVERYTHING is made of. It smashes everything to bits. And, the results have been stunning.
The story brand sounds new. The CERN accelerator went to “full blast” operation around 2012. And, theories have become facts, physical evidence measures what prior geniuses could only hope was out there. The CERN particle accelerator is a reality. And it’s working.
The story is actually a much older one. It dates back to the time when ages ago, millenniums ago, mankind went beyond the realities of day to day survival and said “Why”, and “How Come”. They gazed at the stars and planets. They measured movements and trajectories with tracking machines, which while crude were incredibly accurate. Stonehenge is a testament to this zealous search to unravel the Mystery. And, like CERN it had practical applications. These rudimentary stone “computers” helped to track the movements of the sun, and the change of seasons. The ancients knew that there was a connection between their own success, indeed, their survival, and their ability to work with the stuff that’s out there: The celestial bodies above, and, their influence, energetically on the agricultural cycles.
So, it’s a good thing to learn about out the Universe. And, it appeals to some inherent drive to “figure out” the unfathomable. Why are we here? What caused What Is, to come to be? We’ve been doing it forever. And, probably will continue to. So, why write a book about a particle accelerator like CERN’s large hadron collider?
First, it’s darn interesting! It’s one heckuva of a protagonist for a novel: A twenty billion dollar contraption that sits underground on the Swiss French border and hurls clusters of sub atomic particles at one another at a speed that approximates the speed of light. And, the results are recorded by a network of more than 3,000 computers across Europe. But, the appeal of a “super collider” goes beyond that.
No technology that seeks to unravel the Mystery of it all, exists in a vacuum. It works and functions in our world. And, it benefits the world that built and operates it. Both with knowledge, and presumably with practical applications. In fact, it may be the practical applications more than the thirst for knowledge that caused it be built in the first place. Pharmaceuticals, new sources of energy, potential means of inter dimensional space travel are all realistic by products of this machine. But, is there more than meets the eye?
It’s very hard to insure this thing. The lawyer in me knows why insurance companies back off from writing a bond. They fear that the risk is too great. Or, they cannot even fathom or calculate the risk they are underwriting. Their fears are not fanciful. Noted physicists have felt compelled to discuss the possible “pitfalls”: the creation of black holes that wreak havoc and “eat” an entire city or continent; or, even swallow up the planet. It gets scarier. The machine may excite an already delicate balance wherein our Universe, which is essentially a “bubble” or vacuum to become so unstable, it collapses on itself. And, Existence, All of It, simply goes “poof”!
Now, the “track” record of the machine, is devoid of such an event to date. And, it had operated at full tilt intermittently for about seven years. In fact, proponents who “poo-poo” the concerns of other scientists say the same events have been occurring for God-Know-How-Long. And, nothing has happened yet, so why start worrying now.
But, we are artificially “rigging” the circuit, a 17 mile underground tunnel houses a series of magnets that steer the particles on their “racing car” path, and at the moment before collision, condenses the waves of particles to maximize the amount of collisions. We observe the event, and expect these collisions. These two variables are not present, presumably for the collision that have occurred for billions of years, and light years from earth. Even Einstein was beguiled: Subatomic particles /waves behave differently when they are observed during an experiment. And the influence of an “observer” remains a mystery to date.
And, there are the conspiracy theorists. Most are deemed crazy and uninformed. But, their concerns are valid. The results of this colossal ongoing experiment are predictable to some degree, but the intensity and nature of the collisions keeps changing: The CERN scientists want more and more results. And the magnets, and other devices which precipitate these explosions are ratcheted up, more and more, over time. Is this thing safe? What happens if it is not safe? Is CERN another Hubble Telescope that provides aw inspiring insights into Creation and our own Existence? Or, is it also the Unsinkable Ship that the Titanic was. Or the core meltdowns at Chernobyl or Three Mile Island or Japanese power plants that caused immedicable damage, cancer deaths, and contaminated ground water for tens of thousands of years. The results of hubris are catastrophic. Just ask Icarus who created a flight apparatus that permitted him to ascent to the level of the gods, in Greek mythology. The wings he designed for him and his son worked brilliantly. But one day, he flew too high, and the Sun perhaps in protest melted the wings, which were comprised of a wax like material. It ended in a nasty fall. Will CERN end the same way as scientists “fly” higher and higher in the quest for knowledge? And, will it extend beyond the Icarus characters, the CERN scientists, and extend beyond the areas of a nuclear power plant meltdown to affect a nation, a planet, a galaxy or the entire Universe. We still don’t understand what’s at the Core of It All. Without knowing that, it’s impossible to determine if we should be doing these experiments, perhaps, in the first place.
Atom & Eve is not a scientific treatise or a risk assessment. It is a story of a typical guy, like me, who has a career and job, and a platonic girlfriend, named Toni. But things start to go wrong at a particle accelerator in Norway. It’s known as PAN, and in many ways is just like CERN: PAN houses and operates a particle collider to cause sub atomic collisions and to learn stuff. One typical day, he puts on the news to start his day. He’s a lawyer, coincidentally, like me. But, this is not an ordinary day. And from jump, things at PAN start to go very very wrong. I tried to put myself into the situation of a Long Island resident with a house, and a job, and a sports car, and what an event at a particle accelerator half-way across the world could cause. I have taken artistic license with some of the scientific “angles” to the story. Then again, I also conferred with several physicists in the course of performing the research incident to the book.
As I began to write the book, I thought about disaster. I had witnessed the way in which reality changes in the blink of an eye when disaster strikes: The 9-11 attack on New York City; the failure of the entire northeast power grid in or about 2003. Or a beloved parent who suddenly gets a devastating diagnosis. What do you do? How do you react? If it’s a large scale event, the impact is usually felt indirectly. And, the uncertainty and unease created by stock market collapses. What happens to those not at ground zero? Usually, we experience and process the event through the media, whether it be radio, cable news, or now, social media outlets. And in Atom & Eve, the protagonist, the lawyer, gets his first wind that something had gone terribly wrong at the PAN particle accelerator in Norway from watching the news.
Like any event with global impact, our lives continue nonetheless. We still have to eat, bathe, drink, and even enjoy a cigar. Sometimes the first impulse is to have a cup of coffee at the local 7-11. And, then wait. And hope that the Powers-That-Be know what to do. Such was the course of action that the protagonist takes in Atom & Eve.
Besides coffee, and perhaps doing the laundry, if calamity hits, what do you do? You reach out to those around you. In the novel, the protagonist and his platonic girlfriend, seek out one another. He lives in a residential neighborhood. The neighbors reach out to help one another. But, that was typical, and to be honest, somewhat limited. In the course of getting a coffee as the events develop, the protagonist runs across an “out of town” visitor. The visitor is not a resident to Merrick, and in many ways, he is foreign to the entire world of PAN, the protagonist, and his platonic girlfriend Toni. But, he is a powerful, brilliant, and most compelling fellow. And, due to his “orientations”, the “visitor” provides a fertile ground of possible solutions to “riding out” the crisis precipitated by a particle accelerator run amok, and a “foil” for spiritual discussions about the nature of existence, the structure of the Universe, the possibilities for a Multi-Verse of many Universes, and the moral underpinnings of God, Himself.
I found myself incorporating age old philosophic and theological issues; my workmanlike knowledge of the bible; of Hindu mythology and chant; and even the devotions that are offered to Roman Catholic saints! After all, a machine that attempts to look into the eyes of God, and might endanger All of Creation, perhaps God, Himself, can’t be taken lightly. And, the issues that arise naturally extend beyond “damage control”, insurance claims, and whether the darn thing is insurable. The issues even extend beyond the sacred nature of a good cup of coffee.
Just the same, I offer this caveat to my readers: This is a work of fiction. What is discussed herein may never come to pass. I have performed my own research, and I have read many treatises on CERN and discussed particle accelerators, the Higgs boson particle, black holes, and gravity ad nauseum with physicists, authors, and professors. I have “trolled” the CERN social media sites, and raised these concerns. While intellectually I received a good stiff kick in the pants (and maybe I deserve it) it afforded the opportunity for discourse amongst CERN’s physicists, science teachers, and some “interesting” conspiracy theorists. You Tube alone has its share of both educational videos about the operation of CERN’s large hadron collider, and some curious videos uploaded by the dissenters. I have examined the position of the “gung ho” physicists who consider an anomalistic event such as a black hole being formed, or the creation of a portal to an alternate dimension, as the stuff of uninformed or mis-informed “nut jobs”. At the same time, I have also attempted to give “equal time” (as any lawyer should) to the laymen, scientists, and authors who feel that CERN is an “accident waiting to happen”. Some think it will create a black hole that will eat up the planet. Or, facilitate the collapse of the Universe or the entire Multi-Verse. Others feel it can cause a natural disaster like an earthquake or a tsunami. And still others fear that the machine can open a doorway to a dimension inhabited by demons and devils, the hell described in the book of Revelations. While some may scoff at the doomsday thinkers, I found it necessary to play “devil’s advocate”. The subject itself, and the novel’s characters demanded it!
Please enjoy the novel. It is not written as a doomsday prediction. And, it is not a scientific treatise. It is a novel based loosely upon fact. It was not created to inspire a sense of fear, or dread or worthy, and it is not intended as a rallying point to stop the operation of CERN’s large hadron collider. I have worried much about the possibility that the events I have written about. In fact, the only loss of sleep I experienced from Atom & Eve was the time spent, into the night, writing and editing this work. At the same time, the possibilities and realities discussed in the novel are in large part not the ramblings of a crazy man. They are an attempt to marry the presence of an extraordinary instrument of knowledge with the potential consequences of seeking such knowledge. The thirst for knowledge, despite warnings, and absent appropriate safeguards can be disastrous. Just ask Adam, or Eve, and the loss of Paradise. (Hence the title, Atom and Eve). On the other hand, our compulsion to know and learn is as fundamental to life as we know it as breath and consciousness itself!
Enjoy the book. And, feel free to provide input and reviews to the novel on the web site. A writer develops from innate talent, and a good Editor. But, the input of his readers is also instrumental. Thus, I invite your participation, and thank you for reading Atom & Eve.