End of Days
God spoke to me last night. No, I am not schizophrenic or a Jesus freak. Nor am I a conspiracy theorist (well, except for JFK’s assassination, of course--unless the principles of quantum mechanics somehow apply to bullets fired from book depositories with inhuman rapidity to perform a dance macabre through the bodies of governors before striking their intended target), but I know precisely the series of events that will result in the end of the world and will eventually give birth to a new universe. It came to me in a dream. No, really, it did.
It all started pretty much like a bad Hollywood disaster flick (sorry, I know that’s redundant) with well-funded mad scientists doing what comes natural in fiction as well as in fact. “Build us a big Hadron Supercollider, and we’ll find the elusive Higgs boson God particle. Maybe we’ll even produce a unified theory that incorporates the pesky behavior of subatomic particles and allows us to demystify quantum mechanics once and for all.”
It turns out, not surprising to anyone, other than scientists of course, that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and that allowing children to play unsupervised in a chemistry lab or with a super-duper, neat-o particle accelerator is not such a good thing after all. Who’d have thunk it?
The first hint that something was just a bit off-kilter came in the form of assurances by project scientists delivered with the usual smug expressions and thinly veiled contempt with which they usually approach any communication with the unwashed masses, that yes, miniature black holes could probably be created by subatomic particles accelerated at nearly light speed through a 17-mile circular particle accelerator and forced to collide in a massive release of energy, but such black holes would quickly dissipate. “No,” they smiled complacently, “there is absolutely no danger in these experiments.”
The second hint of a problem (and by hint I mean claxons going off, red lights flashing, and the original Robby the Robot’s accordion arms waving wildly while proclaiming “danger, Will Robinson!”) came when the Hadron Supercollider suffered some unspecified problems that caused it to be shut down for months on end after its first full-scale test. When the 17-mile supercollider was once again brought back on line, headlines proclaimed the countdown would begin again for the end of the world. Smile, snicker, hah-hah.
What was not reported was the actual reason for the shutdown, since no one, including the geniuses running the experiments, knew the real cause: a pesky miniature black hole that did not quickly dissipate in the lab as expected and caused a nearly catastrophic shutdown as it drilled an invisible hole just a few molecules wide, eagerly sucking up anything that crossed its tiny event horizon, while accelerating slowly but inexorably downward, worming its way through the containment chamber, rapidly vacuuming vital bits of the temperamental equipment on its way to the center of the earth.
Not to worry, though, it is still relatively small despite its voracious, unquenchable appetite. But it is exponentially increasing its mass as it swings like a pendulum through the earth’s core and beyond it in decreasing arcs that will eventually settle it at the earth’s core. It will likely be many years before we begin to feel the cataclysmic seismic effects of its inexorable violation of the earth’s core, and longer still before the entire planet and every living thing in it is sucked into its vortex, followed thereafter by the moon, and then the outer planets as the growing black hole continues its feeding frenzy, eventually consuming the entire solar system and Sol itself.
But that is unlikely to happen for many years, perhaps millennia, in the future given the diminutive size of the black hole at present. And scientists still believe that the equipment failure was unrelated to its actual cause since the unreported black hole the initial full-scale test produced dissipated soon after its formation according to their classified reports. Therefore, the supercollider was repaired, and billions or Euros later, the scientists have their plaything once more and science is free to continue its happy march towards oblivion.
If it ended here, we’d have little to worry about in the short term, other than perhaps ever-increasing seismic activity. Even the hungriest little black hole needs a great deal of time to ingest a planet from the inside out, and if later laboratory-created black holes don’t ingest other vital pieces of sensitive equipment on their way to joining their older brother down the rabbit hole in their inexorable journey to swallow our blue planet, we’d probably kill off our species through war, pestilence, famine or other forms of humanity’s endless capacity for galloping stupidity long before daddy’s and mommy’s little darlings consumed the world.
That’s why if my prescient dream had ended there, I’d shake it off with a smile and go about my day without another thought, compartmentalizing the certain knowledge of future doom in the nether regions of my mind, right next to the knowledge of the unsustainability of our ballooning federal and state deficits and the possibility of an asteroid hit that will once again eradicate most flora and fauna on this planet.
Unfortunately, scientists are not the only ones who like to play God. They are just more tragic and contemptible in their efforts at doing so because they should know better. They are like amoebas attempting to extrapolate the secrets of the universe by examining in minutest detail the drop of fetid swamp water atop a floating leaf that they inhabit. In a very real sense, scientists are among the smartest amoebas, all hail their boundless wisdom! But others like to play in the hedonistic God sandbox, too. And here is where my prescient dream grows infinitely darker.
It so happens that terrorists pay attention to science, despite the mad rantings of so many of them against it. Science, after all, brought us TNT, the A-bomb, the H-bomb, weaponized anthrax, and lots of other cool goodies that are wonderful additions to the terrorists’ toolkits. As it happens, one particularly well-funded, well connected group in the Middle East thinks it a grand idea to blow Israel off the face of the earth before that even better funded, and better connected state has the chance to do the same to them or to their proxy states. They have acquired a gaggle of disaffected, under-employed Russian physicists and funded them generously to produce “outside-the-box” ideas for a doomsday device on the cheap. They did not have 17-mile supercolliders to play with, and Jihadist physicists are a rare breed. But not to worry, they had something better: money, lots of it, and the ability to entice scientists who view themselves above pedantic, bourgeois notions of ethics and for whom science is the only religion.
Undaunted by any notions of right and wrong and guided by the simple principle that “if it can be done, it must be done,” these brilliant men and women soon developed a working experiment that presented an elegant solution that their benefactors immediately approved.
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