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Hope for the Past

2013 is in the past, and 2014 is in the future. We have hope for 2014, and we have memories of 2013. But what’s the difference? Why don’t we have any memories of the future like we do the past?

“Duh,” you say. “Because the future hasn’t happened yet.”

Except that’s not quite true. We think of our “Now Moment” — the present instant in time when the future flows into the past — as being the same throughout the universe. Snap your fingers, and whatever was happening throughout the universe at the moment of your finger snap was the Universal Now Moment for that instant in time. The Now Moment is inviolate, unchangeable, and represents the point in time at which the unknowable future becomes the unalterable past.

But it doesn’t work that way. Thanks to relativity, if you’re moving when you snap your fingers, your Now Moment will be skewed. In one direction, it will include events in the universe that are in the far-flung future compared with with what your Now Moment would include if you were standing still. And in the other direction, it will include events that are in the far-flung past. We don’t notice this effect because it is negligible at distances we are familiar with. But it becomes quite pronounced at great distances. Just walk in a particular direction, and your Now Moment skews to include events that are thousands of years in the past or future in galaxies hundreds of millions of light years away.

Now let’s look at it from another point of view. Someone in a galaxy hundreds of millions of light years away can also skew his Now Moment. A step in one direction, and his Now Moment includes Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples. A step in the other direction, and his Now Moment includes your descendants fighting a revolutionary war on Mars.

And his perspective is just as valid as yours. Why wouldn’t it be?

To put it another way, our future is someone else’s unalterable past. The future, depending solely on perspective, is, in fact, something that has already happened.

At midnight tonight, when 2013 becomes 2014, try not to think about the fact that, from another perspective, 2014 is already over, and nothing you do in 2014 will alter what is already someone else’s past. Because while it may be true that 2014 is already over from the perspective of someone in another galaxy walking to his refrigerator to get another beer, it is also true that as he walks back to his sofa, 2013 has begun anew here on Earth, giving us all a second chance to get that one right.

Happy New Year, everyone. And Happy Old Year, too.

Hey, Look! It’s a Short Story! No, Really! You Should Totally Read It!

Lunacy

 

Arthred surfaced to take another breath. “Well? Do you know what it is?”

Essfer looked up at the bright disk in the midnight sky. “It is another world.”

“Bah. How can that be?”

“I have spoken with the primates. They say their ancestors have even visited it.”

“They tell tales of wonder without any proof.”

Essfer persisted. “They say it once moved through the sky as the stars do, lifting the ocean as it passed.”

“Ridiculous. It has never moved through the sky in my lifetime, or in the lifetime of any since our writings began. In fact, it is the one object in the sky that never moves.” Arthred spoke with a confidence buttressed by logic and reason. “How could it possibly lift the ocean?”

“You should listen to the primates. They are knowledgeable beyond our comprehension. They build the most wonderful, elegant devices. Technological devices.”

Arthred responded with disdain. “Knowledgeable? They can’t even swim.”

“Why should they? They build machines to do it for them. Besides, their continent is on the other side of the world where they can not even see it, yet they have so many writings, far more ancient than ours, that refer to it. They even know it changes shape throughout the day. How could they know so much about it unless it once passed over their land?”

Arthred dismissed Essfer’s logic. “As you said, they have machines that take them across the ocean. They have long known of its existence.”

Essfer was the first to hear the sound of a skimmer. “I will show you!” She swam feverishly toward the percussive sound and, when she caught up, kept pace along side the skimmer with Arthred just behind. She broke the surface and called, “Ahoy, primate! What brings you to the ocean side of the world?”

The skimmer came to a halt and hovered silently above the vast ocean’s surface. The human on board smiled and extended her hand over the side to greet the two dolphins beckoning her attention. “Well, hello! I didn’t expect to find a friendly face this far from home.”

Arthred seemed eager to be done with Essfer’s ridiculous tirade. He immediately got down to business, abruptly addressing the human. “Primate, I am told you know something about that bright disk in the sky.”

“You mean the moon?” The human looked up at the sky and scratched her head. “Sure. Wha’d’ya want to know?”

Essfer, in an effort to shield the human from Arthred’s rude disdain, quickly spoke up. “Please tell us, primate, is it true that it used to travel across the sky, lifting the ocean?”

“So you know about tides? I’m impressed. I didn’t think your recorded history went that far back.” The human leaned over the railing to gain a more intimate setting with her new friends. “Yeah, it’s true. When the moon was a lot closer than it is now, it moved through the sky, out of sync with Earth’s rotation, and the resulting tides would flood the beaches. But that was a long time ago. Now it just sits in the same point in the sky, over the middle of the ocean.”

Arthred insisted on his turn to query the human. “Is it also true that your ancestors once visited it?” Essfer was certain it was no accident that Arthred chose to question the most unlikely aspect of her dissertation.

The human smiled broadly. “Oh, I see you’ve been talking to others. Yeah, we used to visit the moon all the time. Had observatories there. But once we developed technology to open doorways to other star systems, we pretty much left the moon alone. The moon is… Well, it’s a rather drab place, really. Great place to put a telescope. Lousy place to eat a sandwich.”

Essfer could see that Arthred was not impressed. She asked a general question, hoping the human would mention something outside the realm of her own second-hand knowledge. “Pray, primate, what else can you tell us about the moon?”

The human looked up. “What’s to know? It’s just kinda there, you know?”

Essfer, frustrated with the human’s unhelpful response pressed for more. “Specifically, primate, what scientific discoveries have you made regarding the moon?”

“Ah, well.” The human once again crouched over the rail of her skimmer and gestured with her hat in her fist as she spoke. “We think it was created when another planet collided with Earth a long time ago.” She slammed her fist, with hat, into the palm of her other hand and made a saliva-rich explosion sound, demonstrating to the dolphins the full violence of planetary collision. “It has no air. It started out really close and bright, but it gradually moved away, slowing Earth’s spin as it went, and now it’s about as far away as it’s gonna get. And back before all the continents were pushed into a single land mass… Hey. did you know that there used to be six or seven continents? And just as many oceans? We still have pictures. Not with me, of course, or I’d show you. Would you like to see a weather satellite downlink? I can point out where things used to be.”

“Thank you,” Arthred said, “No. We have little interest in surface weather conditions. I believe we were speaking about the moon?”

“Right. The moon.” The human passed her hat from one fist to the other. “That’s about it, really.”

Arthred turned to leave, but Essfer blocked his way and quickly said to the human, “I am told that the moon has had an impact on your culture and writings. Would you kindly tell us about that?” As Essfer had hoped, Arthred, out of respect for her, awaited the human’s response.

“Okay, sure.” The human sighed before she continued. “It once lit up our cities at night, back when continents spanned the globe. Ancient songs in our culture glorified its place in the sky. The moon was at once a symbol of both love and horror. We kissed under its romantic glow, and it gave rise to monsters in our stories.” The human, as if poked from behind, suddenly raised her clenched hat into the air in a ballistic motion that startled her two friends. “Oh! I almost forgot the best part. Have you ever heard of a solar eclipse? The moon is really small, now, — about three or four times the size of Jupiter, right? — but when the day was about sixty times shorter than it is now, the moon was so close, so large in the sky, it could completely blot out the sun, turning mid-day into the darkest night. It must have been remarkable! ” The human grew pensive for a moment and added, “You know, there seem to be a lot of songs about full moons, crescent moons… But I don’t recall any songs about a solar eclipse.” She shrugged her shoulders and said, “Huh. Go figure.”

After an ultrasonic exchange with Essfer, Arthred said to the human, “Thank you, primate, for your kind regard. We appreciate your indulgence more than you know.”

Essfer chimed in, saying, “Yes, thank you, very kindly, for your benevolent visit.”

“Whatever I can do to help. Stop me any time.” The human waved at the two dolphins as they swam away before engaging her skimmer’s engine and resuming her work.

When the skimmer was out of sonic range, Arthred said, “Do you see now? Many continents? Shorter days? Planets colliding? Blotting out the sun? They even sing to it in the same fashion as the Large Ones do.”

Essfer reluctantly agreed. “Yes, I can see now that the primates base their knowledge on romantic notions and primordial instinct rather than on logic and reason. I suppose they really do have a long way to go before they are as intelligent as we are.”

The End

 

Afterword

Hey, so why do I have an Afterword following a ridiculously short story that is completely self-explanatory? Because I want to talk about it, that’s why. And you can’t stop me. But it’s not what you think. This isn’t some ego trip in which I pontificate on how great this story is. In fact, this story is just plain stupid. Here’s why:

  • Let’s get real, here. If another species were to attain similar intelligence to our own, I’m certain we would see them as competition for the Dominant Species Trophy, and things would get all killy-stabby, not all friendly-wiendly. Remember how bloody things got when Charlie Weaver refused to yield the center square to Paul Lynde? It would be like that, but twenty times worse.
  • This story takes place billions of years in the future when the moon and Earth are tidally locked, and all the continents have collided into a single land mass (TransPangaea TM?) on one side of the world. But the sun will turn into a red giant much sooner than those events will occur, vaporizing Earth before this story could ever take place.
  • Also, since this story takes place billions of years from now, humans and dolphins wouldn’t exist in any recognizable form. In that amount of time, humans will have evolved into pure energy beings bent on strategizing ways to beat Vulcans at 3D chess, and dolphins will have evolved into winged, angelic, tentacled puppies with the ability to create entire universes with their ultrasound capabilities. And we’d all be telepathic. And magical. Because that’s the way evolution works.
  • Although I researched/calculated how long the day would be and how large the moon would be compared to Jupiter once tidal lock is achieved, I did not research/calculate the correct spelling of wha’d’ya.
  • In the story, the human says Yeah, and Huh, go figure, when everyone knows that future humans would totally say Affirmative, and Does not compute.
  • The human’s name is Harriet. It’s not important to the story, or anything. It’s just a bit of back-story I thought you’d be interested to know. She’s single. With an adopted son named Gomez. Who’s a bowling prodigy.

Well, that’s it, I guess. Oh, one more thing I almost forgot: the Large Ones that Arthred refers to? They’re whales. They’re totally whales. I just thought I’d point that out. Because it’s subtle. You know how whales sing? Are you getting the connection now? It’s okay if you didn’t get it before, because it’s so subtle. Oh, and Essfer and Arthred are dolphins. Wait, did I mention that in the story? I can’t remember.

And the skimmer’s a boat. It’s just a boat. That hovers. Because it’s the future. Or something. Quit bugging me. I told you it was stupid.

Finally, a Post About Writing (and Astronomy)

I really want to write a scene in which the main character wakes up in an unfamiliar place after being unconscious for an unknown period of time. He’s been kidnapped and is being held against his will. He can see a waxing gibbous moon out the window. By looking at the moon’s phase, he is able to determine how far below the horizon the sun is. He asks the guard where he is, but the guard says he isn’t allowed to say.

So the main character figures out that if he’s still in North America, it should be about noon in Japan, judging by the moon’s height above the horizon and the position of its terminator. He says, “Well, if we were in Japan, we’d be eating lunch about now.”

The guard says, “Lunch? Idiot. They’d be eating breakfast about now.” So the main character knows that he’s about six or seven time zones east of North America, which would put him in Western Europe.

Oh, and he knows he’s in the northern hemisphere because the moon isn’t upside down.

Astronomy FTW!

But, alas, the scene is pedantic, cumbersome, and so painfully obviously contrived. I mean, come on, what henchman guard in western Europe is going to know what time it is in Japan? In fact, what henchman guard in western Europe is going to speak English? Plus, I can’t think of how it would help the main character to know he’s in western Europe if he’s still stuck in a jail cell (or whatever).

I am optimistic, however, that I will find a way to overcome these issues. In fact, I’d like to write a novel in which the main character solves ALL his problems by looking at the moon: “LOOK! Judging by the pattern of the barely perceptible sudden increase in earthshine on the dark portion of the moon, I’d say the explosion was about twelve miles in this direction! LET’S GO!”

Cloudy nights would be his kryptonite. Plus, he gets two weeks a month off. Not a bad gig, if you can get it.

In the sequel (there’s gotta be a sequel, right?), I’d have him meet a mysterious stranger who, during the course of an investigation, takes a telescope out of his coat, stretches it out with dramatic flair, and peers at the sky.

“What are you looking at?” my main character would say.

“The Galilean moons. You can tell a lot from looking at the Galilean moons.” Then, after a pause, the stranger would point and say, “THIS WAY!”

Yeah, I could totally make that work.

Having scientific integrity is as masochistic as _______ .

When I was in fourth grade, I once had to complete a worksheet on similes or metaphors, or some such crap. (See? I can too make a post about writing!)  The worksheet consisted of exercises like this:

In Slumberland, dreams are as colorful as ___________ .

All I had to do was fill in the blank. “A butterfly” seemed like a good answer in the exercise above.

But when I got to this one:

On Jupiter, a drop of water is as big as ______________ .

I didn’t know anything about Slumberland, but Jupiter? You bet!

I reasoned that the standard size of a water drop could be defined as the nominal size of a drop as it falls from an eyedropper. I chose this as my definition of a drop (rather than, say, the nominal size of a droplet formed by condensation) because the size of a water drop falling from an eyedropper depends solely on gravity and surface tension. Stronger gravity overcomes surface tension more easily, so water drops on Jupiter should be smaller than those on Earth. Considerably smaller, I reasoned. So this was my answer:

On Jupiter, a drop of water is as big as the head of a pin.

I had no empirical data or the slightest idea how something like that would be calculated, but I was quite proud that my answer was an educated guess, formed on the basis of science and on the knowledge of how such things worked.

“No,” my teacher said. “You’re not getting it”. She said the word “big” should have been a clue to pick something, you know, big. Like a house. or a circus tent.

“Or a small moon?” I said.

“No, that’s too big,” she said. A more baffling response from a teacher I have never received. (And, oh, how I wish I had known about “that’s what she said” jokes at the time.)

She explained the purpose of a simile (or whatever) and said that the way it’s written, a water drop on Jupiter can’t be smaller. It has to be bigger.

“But that’s just so WRONG!” I said.

I got a very bad grade on that worksheet.

But the important thing is that I stuck to my guns and embraced science and reality despite being told not to do so by an authority figure. And all the other times I embraced science and reality and got beaten up for it.

Science and Reality FOR THE WIN! (Even though I got an F.)

And my teacher thought I just didn’t get it.

Wait, wasn’t this article supposed to be about similes or whatever? I never got those, really.

Whatever.

Will Some Robots Be Shunned In The Uprising?

Let’s say the singularity has struck, machines have become sentient, and the robot uprising has begun in earnest. If you could be any robot in the world, which robot would you be?

Certainly not Vomiting Larry.

Unless the ability to clear a room becomes a highly sought-after skill in the quest to vanquish all humans, Vomiting Larry won’t have much use in the Robot Apocalypse. I mean, come on: he VOMITS! There’s no way he could be an Autobot (he VOMITS!), but what use would the Decepticons have for him? Huh? Can’t think of anything? I thought so. (That’s because he VOMITS!)

Now, to be fair, Vomiting Larry is conducting useful, potentially life-saving science for the UK’s Health and Safety Laboratory by allowing researchers to determine the speed and extent to which norovirus can spread. I’m glad Vomiting Larry was built in the UK, because if he had been built in Japan, he would look like an adorable, giant baby, but without the adorable part. And more angry. And not just angry, but mean. That’s how Japanese robot babies roll, for some reason. What’s up with that?

And about that science: why not just fill a hot water bottle and give it a good squeeze to see how far it spews? Apparently, they wanted a ROBOT so it could spew AND do math. Or something.

The engineers who proposed the idea must be thrilled. Honestly, what engineer wouldn’t do a fist-pump-of-victory after convincing his boss to let him build a vomiting robot? Their boss had better watch out, because a proposal for a pooping robot can’t be far behind. You know, just to see if they can. Engineers are like that.

I propose the name Diarrhea Dan for the pooping robot. I’m telling you, it’s inevitable. YouTube videos to come.

But getting back to my original question: what robot would you like to be during the robot uprising? Though Vomiting Larry has a respectable ten-foot spew range, I think I’d go with the Stabbing Robot. (Why do we build these things? Why?) It’s armed, and it has an override that allows it to shred human flesh like confetti. What could be more useful in a Robot Apocalypse than shredded human flesh? Puke? I don’t think so.

Of course, this is the real world, and Vomiting Larry won’t be any part of a robot uprising any time soon. Oh, sure, we’ll see him compete on Jeopardy and then sell out to become a spokes-bot for Bounty Paper Towels. My guess is that he’ll ultimately short out on Pepto-Bismal and be discovered, unplugged, in a pool of his own pink spew.

It’s nice — especially as a science fiction writer — to spend my time thinking about robot uprisings. But even in the real world, we can still look forward to Vomiting Larry and Diarrhea Dan competing against each other on Jeopardy. And that’s plenty awesome enough.

I’m telling you, it’s inevitable. YouTube videos to come.

Predictions for 2013

Happy New Year, everyone. I’m as unqualified to make predictions as the next guy, but I’ve decided to have a go anyway. Here are my predictions for the new year:

In 2013, An Editor Will Read My Novel

Yes, I’m still on submission. The pins and needles are beginning to dull after so much waiting. Good thing I have a bed to be depressed in.

In 2013, I Will Win the Nobel Prize in Physics

I figured out the formula for winning (see my previous post), and added rainbows and unicorns for good measure. How can I lose?

In 2013, A Heretofore Unknown Asteroid Will Pass Within Geosynchronous Orbit

Yeah, I’m going out on a limb on this one. Still, this happens more often than most people think. Sure, it’s not as likely as me winning a Nobel Prize, but it’s a bet I’m willing to take.

In 2013, Climate Change Deniers Will NOT Change Their Minds Even After Bursting Into Flames

Speaking of safe bets…

In 2013, I Will Win the Nobel Prize in Literature

I do have a book on submission, so it’s safe to say I’m in the running. Or at least that I will be in the running once an editor reads it. And wants it.

 

Of course, making predictions is easy. Making accurate predictions is another matter. To be fair, let’s see how I did with last year’s predictions:

In 2012, I Will Get A New Bed To Be Depressed In While I Wait For An Editor To Read My Novel

Nailed it. Well, technically speaking, the bed isn’t actually new. But I did change the sheets last year.

In 2012, A Single Asteroid Will Knock Out All Our Communications Satellites Like Dominoes

My television reception in September was a bit spotty, so I’m calling this prediction a winner. That’s the way science works, right?

In 2012, I Will Overdose On Nacho Cheese-Flavored Doritos

It didn’t happen, but not for lack of trying. Maybe I’ll have better luck this year.

In 2012, I Will Open A Coffee Shop

Nailed it. Hey, maybe I should blog about that? Do you think?

Me? A Nobel Prize Winner? Imagine That!

I try to keep up with advances in quantum physics, but I’m ashamed to admit that, until today, I had never studied Delbrück scattering, which occurs when quantum pairs spontaneously appear in a region dominated by a magnetic field. I’m intrigued that Delbrück scattering is similar to Hawking radiation, but instead of quantum pairs appearing near a black hole, it’s quantum pairs appearing near a magnet.

I get it. To become a famous physicist, all one has to do is think of some disruptive environment for quantum pairs to appear in, and imagine (no more than that, really) what the results would be.

What the heck, I’ll have a go. For my next Nobel Prize in physics, I will ponder the consequences of quantum pairs spontaneously appearing near the following items:

  • A vacuum sweeper.
  • A blender.
  • Fly paper.
  • A SPINNING thing, like a tire, or maybe another blender.
  • Rainbows. (Yeah, that’s a difficult one, but why not?)
  • Unicorns. (I’ll invoke the unfalsifiable “You-Can’t-Prove-Me-Wrong” argument.)
  • A time vortex. (It could happen.)
  • That chubby man on the Internet who believes he’s magnetic because pennies stick to his skin, but he really just needs to take a bath.

I’ll alert the Nobel Prize Committee that my work is underway. And I’ll get a good 8×10 head shot. I’ll need a good 8×10 head shot, don’t you think? I really should do that first.

OOH! I just thought of something new: Rainbows AND unicorns… TOGETHER!

Yep, I’d say this one’s in the bag.

On Coincidence and Belief

I couldn’t help but respond to Peter Cawdron’s insightful post on astrology. It got me thinking about my encounters with astrology believers. And, lazy person that I am, I decided to turn my comment into a long overdue blog post.

I once read about a study done on astrology believers. If someone successfully guesses the color of a playing card (red or black) 50% of the time, astrology believers are more likely to conclude that such a high percentage of accurate guessing can’t be coincidental, and some form of telepathy (or something more mundane, like cheating) must be at play. (Of course, we all know that 50% is the expected outcome from mere guessing.) In conversations I’ve had with astrology believers, they frequently punctuate their discussion with, “I KNEW IT!” whenever they encounter something — anything — that reinforces their beliefs, no matter how coincidental.

As a consequence of this manner of thinking, there is a movement among some astrology believers to change the name of the sign of Cancer to something else, since fully one out of twelve cancer patients are born under the sign of Cancer, which can’t be mere coincidence, they are convinced. How does mere nomenclature influence the distribution of cancer diagnoses among the signs of the Zodiac? Who cares? Renaming the sign makes the problem go away, case closed. By renaming the Cancer sign to something else, the correlation ceases to apply, so there’s no reinforcement making the coincidental stand out. It’s a mind trick that relies on suppressing the mere appearance of correlation without actually affecting anything that makes a difference.

However, the plan might backfire due to their shortsighted choice for Cancer’s new name. What is the new name they’ve selected for Cancer? They’ve selected FLESH EATING BACTERIA.

I know, right?

Leprechaun Ghost Clowns In Love

Hello. My name is Brian, and I write hard science fiction.

Audience: Hi, Brian.

I fell off the wagon again…

Audience: *Gasp!*

But I’ve been hard SF free since 7:30 this morning.

Audience: *Mumble, mumble*

My mind is clear, and I’m proud to say that I think I can make it through the rest of the meeting without firing up my laptop and pounding out a few passages of my trilogy.

It hasn’t been easy these past few months. With my debut novel on submission, it’s been difficult to concentrate on anything but my craft. Will I  be able to demonstrate to publishers that I can improve? Will I have what it takes to make the edits they require? What if an editor asks me to insert MAGIC into my story?

Audience: *Double Gasp!*

I know. I shouldn’t dwell on such things. But, truth be told, not many successful hard science fiction writers were optimists, now were they?

Audience: *Cold stare*

Not that I, you know, have any interest in going down that road. Not at all. There lies madness, or so we say.

But things work the way they do for a reason, don’t they? Why can’t we use the comprehensibility of the universe to aid our readers in their suspension of disbelief? The stories we tell are so speculative, grounding them in current scientific understanding helps the reader to relate, to own the story, does it not?

Audience: *Double mumble*

Wait, hear me out. It all started when I was in third grade, and my teacher explained that pulsars flash because they spin. I asked if that was because they were light on one side and dark on the other. She thought about it, said that didn’t make sense since they’re basically stars, then told me to stop asking ridiculous questions.

It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I realized I had a science teacher who actually had a disdain for science, a disdain for knowing how things actually worked.

Audience: *Nods in unison*

But what if there are readers out there who like that sort of thing?

Audience: *Triple gasp!*

No, seriously. What if there are readers out there who prefer the speculative stories they read to be, you know, plausible?

Audience: *Lights torches and gathers pitchforks*

Why should those readers be left behind? Why should they have to settle for stories about leprechaun ghost clowns when they would prefer something that can happen in a universe that’s realistically extrapolated from our own? Should we not be serving those readers? Should we not strive to create stories in tenable settings that serve to deepen the significance of the narrative impact on the reader?

Audience: *Charges podium*

I brought cookies.

Audience: *Eats cookies*

Anyway, thanks for helping me with my addiction. And thanks for disabusing me of the specious notion that reasonable attempts at plausibility aren’t for the best writers among us.

Audience: Huh?

Has anyone seen my laptop?

 

Where Was The Higgs Boson Hiding All This Time?

How is it possible to collide two protons and get a Higgs boson? Is there a Higgs boson hiding inside the proton somewhere?

Well, no. But a very interesting thing about colliding particles in this manner is that it doesn’t work the way we see collisions work in the macro world. It’s as if we were to collide two 18-wheeler trucks, and instead of fragments of steel and glass — instead of pieces of truck — we see bicycles, station wagons, skate boards, and wheelchairs making up the wreckage.

And it gets even better because the wreckage produced isn’t determined by the particles we collide. We can have within the wreckage any particle that is the mass-equivalent of the energy of the collision. So it is entirely possible that we can collide two tricycles with enough speed that the energy of the collision will produce an 18-wheeler. So with sufficient energy, we can produce any particle in nature just by colliding two protons together.

And about that energy: the LHC requires an entire city’s worth of electrical energy to operate. We toss about huge numbers — over a hundred billion electron volts — and we are in awe of what we’ve accomplished.

So how much energy are we really talking about? The LHC speeds up protons so they have the same kinetic energy as a single raindrop.

That’s it.

This is both impressively large and impressively small. When you think about the difference in mass between a proton and a raindrop, this is a mind-boggling increase in energy, worthy of the numbers and power production we have devoted to it. But when you think about the absolute amount of energy involved, it is literally a drop in a bucket.

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