In search of the restaurant at the edge of the universe, and other matter(s)

You guys are a full cup of awesome.

Thanks for all your most excellent blog suggestions. They made me think, consider, ponder, muse, and, on occasion, laugh out loud. I will have a hard time picking just three and may keep some of them in a file for one of those days in which my brain has been hijacked by zombies. (I wear the tin foil hat like I’m supposed to but somehow they keep getting in. The molting undead—so ingenious. And you have to admire their persistence.)

I was really chuffed to see how many of you wanted me to blog about politics and feminism. I will do that as soon as my gray matter comes off scan.

But I am super excited today. Do you know why? Well, if you’re psychic or one of the aforementioned brain-hijacking zombies, you probably do. The rest of you might need hints. I am excited because tomorrow this happens:

Tomorrow, on the border of France and Switzerland, way underground, The Hadron Super Collider will be turned on, and physicists will search for answers about the universe. What’s out there? What is dark energy? When the Big Bang happened, where did all that matter go, and would it have been such an imposition for it to have sent us a few postcards over the years? Is there a Higgs-Boson (aka “God Particle”) or is that just the name of some disaffected aristocratic particle who drinks too much and lives in a crumbling estate on the edge of the universe? (You know, next to the restaurant. Sigh. Douglas Adams. R.I.P. Did you know Douglas Adams and I share a birthday? You do now. Plenty of time to shop for it, too. Well, for me. Mr. Adams did not leave a forwarding address that I know of. But I digress.)

We were talking super colliders. And what the universe is made of. And why gravity is so weak in our world. And why we’re here. And whether there might be other dimensions and if they have malls and if those malls are more evolved or do they still have a Hot Topic right next to the Jamba Juice.

I’ve always been a physics freak. Sadly, my math skills are Neanderthal and so I wasn’t able to take physics classes. (I believe my high school physics teacher’s compassionate, hand-on-shoulder take was, “Let’s face it, my dear, you’re never going to be a physicist. Why don’t you drop my class before you fail completely?” Of course, this conversation did take place in a bookstore…right after school…when I had cut her sixth period class. So there’s that.) But I have maintained my love for physics, its concepts and questions, even if I see the equations and think, Huh, that x is trying to do a chin-up on the monkey bar —- and the 1 is sitting on top of the bar saying, “Come on! You can do it!” Isn’t that nice? Equations. So encouraging.

There are naysayers who worry that the Hadron Super Collider will create a black hole that will swallow the earth and annihilate every single thing including the cockroaches and Paris Hilton. You know, there are always drawbacks, people. This is science. Seriously though, physicists maintain that any black holes created would be minute and would dissipate almost immediately. But just in case, eat everything you want today, and it’s been damn good to know ya. (I kid—this will not happen, people. But I’m still in favor of eating everything you want. I just had toast with butter and jam. Sticky but yummy.)

Anyway, these are some of the ideas/things I’ve been playing with in GOING BOVINE, and it all blows my mind. It makes me feel both incredibly small and vast and eternal at the same time. Perhaps there are other dimensions too impossibly tiny for our brains to comprehend. Or perhaps we are part of a smaller dimension that is part of some larger, higher dimension of space. Horton Hears a Who, indeed. (A great experimental physics lesson in picture book form.)

In the meantime, I’m putting on my goggles and doing my particle dance in honor of the glories of science. And if you want a good physics lesson and a great giggle, you must click here:

It will rock your head.

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