Newsverse: The Light in the Tunnel

By Jerry Adler

After 16 years and $10 billion, there was joy in the meadows and tunnels of the Swiss-French countryside Tuesday: the world’s biggest physics machine, the Large Hadron Collider, finally began to make subatomic particles collide. —The New York Times, March 31, 2010

Thirteen billion years ago,  
Beginning with a pinpoint glow
The Universe we’ve come to know
Emerged, and then commenced to grow.

And all that ever was and is
Precipitated from that fizz
Of X-rays, gamma rays, and light
That cosmic burst of clarity
The moment before symmetry
Lost its grip, began to shatter.
And left behind the photons’ flight
Something new was forming: matter

Two protons, call them “A” and “B”
Colliding with an energy
Never felt before on Earth
Re-creates the violent birth
Of the Universe. The pang
Of Creation: the Big Bang.

And leaves us with a tiny frisson.
Though logically, there is no reason
For concern. No earthly chance
A new black hole could swallow France
Suck it down by gravity
Into a singularity.
A bottomless and lightless hollow
In space-time. And the Earth to follow.

But if some overlooked equation
Some random quantum fluctuation
Gave rise to a new Creation
I wonder if the Universe
Could really turn out that much worse?
And if we had to circle back
Retrace our path along the track
Of history and at each fork
Throw the dice or flip a quark.
After 13 billion years
Could there be an end to tears?

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