Thursday, April 19, 2012
INVASION OF THE DINOSAURS
In the world of science, there is some good news and some bad news. Let's start with the bad news.
According to a study in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, giant, advanced and dangerous dinosaurs may be the dominant life form that has evolved on other planets. The study said that man dominates earth only because dinosaurs were wiped out by an asteroid hitting the earth 60 million years ago. "We would be better off not meeting these dinosaurs." reads the conclusion of the report.
Yikes!! Dinosaurs from Outer Space?
As if we didn't have enough to worry about - like a nuclear Iran, our national debt and whether the Cubs will ever win the World Series again - scientists warn of a possible invasion of dinosaurs from Outer Space! I have only been able to sleep at night by reassuring myself that the dinosaurs may not be dangerous. We would just have to look for signs that would indicate whether they had come in peace or meant to destroy us. For example, if their spaceships had the "peace sign" painted on them, or the dinosaurs wore hippie beads around their necks and flowers behind their ears, we probably would have nothing to fear. But if they seemed upset seeing dinosaur bones in our museums, were wearing green berets or carried a book titled "How to Serve Man" (like the Twilight Zone episode where the aliens had such a book that turned out to be a cookbook), that would be a bad sign.
Let's get to the good news.
A few months ago, scientists announced that some tiny particles called neutrinos had traveled faster than the speed of light, a result that contradicts Einstein's Theory of Relativity. According to Einstein's theory, if an object travels faster than the speed of light, it travels backward in time. When I read this report I lost sleep for several weeks. Everything I had always believed about the Universe was a lie!
The good news is that the result turned out to be false. Order has been restored.
What went wrong? Physicists built a research facility in Switzerland in order to shoot neutrinos in one direction of a 17-mile circular tube and protons in the other direction. They hope the ensuing collisions will create a never-before-seen particle which scientists have dubbed "The God Particle." The ACLU objected to this name, citing the separation of Church and State. As a result, in the United States this particle is nicknamed "The Holiday Particle."
But I digress.
The search for the God Particle is not scheduled to start until 2014, so scientists there were looking for something to do. One of them said, "Hey! Why don't we send some neutrinos 450 miles through the earth to another facility in Italy and see how long it takes!" In performing this test, scientists discovered that some neutrinos arrived before they left (admittedly by only 60 nanoseconds, but still . . . )!!! This could only happen if the neutrinos travelled faster than the speed of light - a startling result.
It turns out that the experimental results were wrong. Spokesman Antonio Ereditato explained that they have "identified two issues that could significantly affect the reported result." The first problem was a faulty connection in one of the cables. The second problem was an error in providing the correct synchronized timestamps. These explanations are kind of mysterious, so I found an anonymous source who told me what really happened.
The cable problem occurred in Switzerland. When they built the 17-mile track, they bought cables that were 6 feet too short. They sent an intern to the Swiss equivalent of Best Buy. He knew the project was over-budget so he saved money by buying some cheap cables. "Needless to say," said my source, "he should have bought Monster Cables.
The timing problem occurred in Italy. The time elapsed from when the neutrinos left Switzerland and when they arrived in Italy was measured by two guys with stopwatches. The Swiss scientist pushed his watch when the particles were sent, and the Italian scientist pushed his stopwatch when the particles arrived. Apparently the Italian guy had been drinking before he came to work so his reflexes were a little off.
I have slept better since finding out it is still true that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. And I was just beginning to not worry about alien dinosaurs. But as I write this, I am having a more frightening thought. What if super-intelligent dinosaurs find a way to travel faster than the speed of light? Then we have to worry about being invaded by giant dinosaurs from Outer Space FROM THE FUTURE!
David LeSueur lives in Littleton, Colorado with his wife Mary. In case anyone from another planet is reading this, they LOVE dinosaurs.