Pine Nuts: Particle physics |

Pine Nuts: Particle physics

Whilst an innocent freshman at the University of Oregon I took a course called, “Analytical Geometry.” What I remember about analytical geometry I could fit in a gnat’s ear.

So how does this qualify me to write a column on particle physics? It doesn’t. But I have never let a detraction like not knowing anything about a subject stop me from writing about it.

Let’s start with the Hadron Collider, the world’s largest particle accelerator, a 16-mile-long tunnel in which protons collide at almost the speed of light. This, to my mind, is a $5 billion Demolition Derby for particle physicists. “Hey Borg, watch this!”

No, the goal of the Hadron is to unveil the secret of the origin of the universe. Well, between you, me and Zippy the dog, I couldn’t care less about the secret of the origin of the universe. I want to know what’s going to happen tomorrow morning.

Personally, I’m in favor of investing $5 billion toward the development of a super strong magnet that highway patrol drones can employ to pick up tailgaters and drop them directly into prison yards. About people who don’t use their turn indicators, well, we can talk about them another time.

Now it comes to our attention that some really smart scientists in Russia are developing an underwater nuclear drone capable of creating a 1,600-foot-tall tsunami. The good news is, we no longer have to fear being vaporized by a conventional nuclear weapon. The bad news is an unsuspecting farmer in Kansas who is peacefully milking his cow at five o’clock in the morning, might get hit in the back by a giant squid.

We saw what one of those tsunamis can do in biblical times, and were it not for a smart guy named Noah, well, I would not be writing this column because I would not have the pleasure of bearing witness to the interesting and frightening things going on in our world today.

Knowing that he reads this fine family journal, I would like to employ this bully pulpit to tender a proposition to Mr. Putin: “Put your smartest tsunami scientists to work on eradicating the common cold for Pete’s sake, and give the farmer in Kansas a break. You’re scaring him and me to death, not to mention the squid and the cow.”

And to the world’s scientists who are spending their time developing weapons of ever more massive destruction I would implore, “Put your good minds and your good hearts into making the world a safer place.”

I had the pleasure of taking a busload of MENSA members to Virginia City one day, the nicest busload of folks I ever met. But they asked me so many questions I was exhausted and pumped dry of information before we reached our destination. Finally I asked them a question to get them off my back, “So exactly what is that ‘Pie-thagoreum Theory’ anyways?”

Well, that got them going and off my neck. Maybe I should have asked them, “So how do we cure the common cold?”

It’s my firm belief that once we cure the common cold, an everlasting peace will break out …

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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