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Higgs Boson

Posted in Alternative Energy, Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2012 by javedbabar

Scientists are a strange bunch, thought TJ. In his four years of working as Lucerne Valley Hotel’s night-receptionist, he had seen all kinds of people, but these nerds were something else. He had no complaints about their manners, it was their thoughts that troubled him. Their brains. Did they ever use them? And if so, did they manage to do so successfully?

TJ was busier than ever. These men, and a few women, were the most incompetent beings he had ever known. Not just socially incompetent, with their awkward gestures and jumbled words, but functionally incompetent; they were unable to execute the simplest tasks.

They repeatedly asked him which rooms they were in; they called to ask how the kettle worked; they didn’t know how to switch on the TV, and if they managed to, were unable to adjust its volume or change channel – but had no trouble finding adult channels and turning them up to full blast. They burnt themselves, or black-fringed iron-shapes right through their suits. They couldn’t figure out which switches operated which lights so often read books in near darkness, or slept in bright light, at least for a while before calling him for help.

TJ spoke to every guest, he guessed, ten times daily, and after two days knew each one by name. The only exceptions were male scientists who had brought along their wives. They seemed to cope better with hotels, giving the impression that they were competent beings in touch with the modern world. They never credited their wives for this, but TJ knew better.

This morning the scientists were leaving. TJ realized that he had been so busy with requests for extra tea bags and toilet rolls, remote control batteries, and more shampoos – not that they needed any for their eggheads – that he didn’t know why they had come here.

While Dr Simoniski studied his bill, TJ asked about his stay.

“My stay? Here? Oh yes! The hotel? It was very good, thank you. It is pretty big for a B&B. Much bigger than I expected.”

TJ said, “Sir, it is not a B&B. It is a fifty-room hotel.”

“Oh yes! You are right. I had a mix up. That was when I was in Lucerne, Switzerland.”

“Were you there on holiday?”

“Holiday! Holiday!” Dr Simonski laughed uncontrollably. “Holiday!” He looked at his wife coming down the stairs. “He said holiday!” Then he turned back to TJ. “There is no time for holidays. I was visiting the Large Hadron Collider, searching for the Higgs boson particle. Have you heard of it? Good, good. It is an elementary particle of the Standard Model of particle physics, and predicted to exist for theoretical reasons. It creates a field with non-zero strength everywhere, even in otherwise empty spaces! Identical particles can also exist in the same place!” His enthusiasm caused his mouth to foam lightly.

TJ asked, “If it is only theoretical, how can you detect it?”

“It is unstable and decays into other particles almost immediately. That’s what the Large Hadron Collider picks up – their atomic signatures.” Sweat appeared on his egg head. He finished checking the bill and said, “That’s why we are here. To celebrate its discovery.”

“Have you found it, really? Where is it?”

“Oh, in a very special place. No wonder it took so long.” He smiled at his wife and handed her the bill to sign.

She had the craziest signature that TJ had ever seen. The ink flowed everywhere – in lines, dots, jets, and scribbles. She smiled weakly and said, “It was in my handbag all along. I didn’t want to steal his thunder. I’ve got a few of them in there.”

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Guru Baby

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , on May 17, 2012 by javedbabar

The visitor waited in line, and when his turn came said, “Excuse me, is Guru Baba here today? We’re visiting from the East Coast and would love to see him.”

Sami said, “I’m sorry Sir, but he is busy with official business today.”

The visitor turned to look at her husband, who curled his lips. She turned back to Sami and said, “But the flag is up at the Transparent Temple.” This was the popular name for their fancy community centre. “Doesn’t that mean he is here?”

Sami hated disappointing people. They came so far to glimpse Guru Baba, one of the world’s leading holy men, who had made his home in Lucerne. He’d wanted to retire to “that nice village with the white mountain above it,” and since then there had been a procession of world leaders coming to see him, and behind them came the masses.

Sami said to the visitor, “Yes, he is here, but I’m afraid he’s tied up with official duties. Will you still be here next Wednesday when he has his monthly audience?”

“Didn’t there used to be a weekly audience?” Sami nodded. “Well, that’s what we came for, and then found out it had been changed.”

The end of weekly audiences had been a disaster. Donations had fallen by three-quarters but Guru Baba’s expenses continued to rise. His charitable projects, especially Free Giving, had proved very popular and taken on lives of their own. Sami had heard of Peak Oil – the notion that the world’s oil supply was diminishing, but population, and thus demand for oil, rising exponentially. This was Peak Toil; he had to work harder and harder in Guru Baba’s gift shop to meet his sales targets. Visitor numbers were decreasing but project costs were rising. It was entirely unsustainable.

“I’m very sorry,” Sami said to the visitor. “We have some new items that you may like though. How about these I Am Here For You Too dice, with one word on each side? It is Guru Baba’s most popular saying. And we have these I Love Change T-shirts. The logo of the eye in the heart in the triangle was designed by his good friend Mr Giorgio Armani. Yes, he was here at Easter. Did you see the photos? Guru Baba loved the holy robes he bought. We’re thinking of adding them to the product range. Would you be interested in those when available? You can leave us your email address.”

Sami tried his best to cheer up visitors but there was only so much he could do.

The visitor said, “If we can’t meet Guru Baba, can we at least get a signed photo?”

“Let me see,” said Sami. “I’ll see what I can do.”

Sami found Guru Baba in his chambers. For the past few months he had spent much of his time sitting silently or walking around ranting. Today he was walking around ranting. “You were not there for me, why should I be here for you?” he shouted, and, “I hate change!”

Poor guy, thought Sami. One of the world’s wisest, kindest men, reduced to this. Old age was a curse, particularly its gift of dementia.

Sami wondered who would be hurt by his signing the photo instead of Guru Baba. The visitor would be happy and donations would increase. He pulled out the black pen he used for checking off deliveries, and scrawled the world famous initials GB.

The visitor was thrilled. So were people who came the next day, and the day after that. There was a boom in visitors and donations. The charitable projects thrived.

Sami went to Guru Baba every day with photos, and returned with them all signed. One day the old man asked him, “Who signs all my photographs?”

Sami dropped his pen. Guru Baba smiled and said, “I think you understand Karma. It means action.”