Speeding In Namibia Perhaps
I was right about that B1 road that stretches down the length of Namibia. It's so straight you can go faster than the speed of light. Warp 1.0001414 in fact.
A group of scientists in Switzerland, next door to their colleagues searching for the Higgs boson particle, announced on Thursday that they had caught a whole load of neutrinos, red-handed, exceeding the speed limit. They clocked them leaving Switzerland and arriving in Italy so quickly they must have been going at well over the speed of light.
Well, I wanted to check this out. And where better than the linear accelerator launching all those super-fast particles everyday aimed straight at my new tattoos? With no need to hide the radar gun out of sight in the bushes.
But as usual, 'health and safety' got in the way.
"Aim that thing at the machine while it's firing at you and it'll be more than just your prostate tumour that gets shrivelled!" the Radiographers warned gravely, yesterday.
"OK. So when you've done your stuff," I suggested, "we'll check the walls opposite. All we have to do is measure the depth of the holes and how hard the plaster is, and we'll know how fast the little villains were travelling, just like the motorway accident investigators."
That went down like a lead balloon. All I got was a firm, "All done, see you Monday."
So I'll have to rely on those scientists in Switzerland to find the right answers and prove, maybe, Einstein was wrong. That B1 road in Namibia is dead straight after all, not curved in some space-time continuum malarkey.
It's early days yet, but I don't seem to have had much luck so far in my attempts to conduct simple experiments with those NHS linear accelerators.
One day last week one of them broke down. Engineers hurried back and forth carrying boxes of spare parts and the queue of patients grew. I had to keep a low profile in case someone thought I'd broken it. Specially when, ahead of my time, I was called in for my session in front of the waiting queue. My machine was still going fine, it was the other one that had stopped working.
Early the week before last the other bunch of scientists in Switzerland, the Higgs boson crowd, had a meeting about 'how will they know when they've searched far and wide enough to confirm it doesn't exist?'
A very philosophical question. They've not found it after a couple of years so far, so how much longer must they search for?
I thought I'd lend a hand - inside a glove.
I'm sure that at least one or two Higgs must have popped out of the radiotherapy machine while I've been under it - it's just a feeling you get, in your most nether of nether regions.
So one day I turned up with a hidden baseball glove, and smuggled it neatly into the treatment room. No easy task as all these machines are housed inside concrete bunkers. The long access corridors have a couple of right-angle corners in them to keep all the straight-line radiation inside, and are starkly bare, so it's difficult to carry something without it being noticed.
When the zapping was all done and the Radiographers called, "Mind the drop!" as I hopped off the table, they were horrified.
"Whhaaat's THAT??" they shrieked, pointing at my clenched right hand inside the huge glove.
"I think I just caught a Higgs boson! Want to have a look?"
"OK. You sure it's there?"
"Well, it only exists for a tiny fraction of a micro-nano second, so you'll have to look really closely."
I slowly opened my gloved hand........
"Oh, look at that! It's gone!!"
"See you tomorrow!"
I saw a funny sight at Guildford station the other day.
I've taken to using the train some days to travel to the hospital - the fare is less than the petrol. And it's green. Although I think that must be code for something - "Code green, Obi-Wan!"
The trains are blue/red on the Guildford line and white/yellow on the Croydon line. I'm glad I got that sorted.
Waiting on the platform for my train home, a strange apparition came into view approaching from the London direction.
An old full-sized steam engine pulled two passenger carriages of similar age along the main line and majestically through the station. But no "puff - chuff - puff - chuff."
The whole entourage was being pulled by a diesel loco, only slightly newer than the steam train. Obviously trundling along to one of those preserved railway lines on the south coast.
The steam loco was dormant. Dead in fact. No fire, no smoke, no steam. There wasn't even a connecting rod fitted on the side facing me, although the valve gear was gracefully swaying to and fro.
In the cab of the diesel unit were two drivers all decked out in their hi-vis orange vests.
But despite there being no life at all in the silent steam engine behind, there on its cold and draughty footplate, with not a chance of frying a single egg, were at least half a dozen 'drivers' and 'firemen' having a high old time!
Another adventure journey.
It was such a surreal sight I didn't think for a moment to grab my camera from my rucksack to snap a quick picture. (I always take it on this journey - I'm sure to get a photo of those particles one day....)
Posted by Ken Thomas at September 24, 2011 12:38 PM GMT