April Fools' Day posts

"Without a tagline since 2010"

About this page

I contribute to the physics blog, Quantum Diaries, and it's traditional for us to write joke posts on April Fools' Day. Here are my contributions from the past few years.

2015: LHC Run 2 cancelled, CERN closes doors

After a three week review CERN Director General, Rolf Dieter Heuer has announced that the LHC will not have another run and that the international laboratory will be closing its doors to science. The revelation follows an intense week of discussion, analysis and rumour mongering.

While deleting some old files from the myriad of hard drives at the CERN Computing Centre, IT support found some data nobody had seen before. “It was just sitting there on a few hard drives in the corner” said Linus Distro, from IT Support. “So I told the analysts to take a look at it and the rest is history!”

The single event that definitely proved the existence of supersymmetry (BBC)

It turns out the rest is history, because these few exobytes of data held the answers to all of the open questions of physics. After discovering a staggering 327 new particles the physicists managed to prove the existence of supersymmetry, extra-dimensions, dark matter, micro black holes, technicolor, and top quark condendsates. But not string theory, that’s just silly.

Theorist John Ellis commented “I never thought I’d see this in my lifetime. I mean, I expected to see supersymmetry and dark matter, but now we have technicolor too. It’s quite simply amazing. We’ve been sitting on this data for years without even knowing it.”

Due to take on the role of Director General in 2016, Fabiola Gianotti said “Now that physics is finished I’m not sure what to do. I was expecting a long and industrious career at the lab, now I can retire early and buy a nice beach house near Napoli.”

The situation for unviersities across the world is less clear. PhD students are expected to have up to seven theses each to cope with all the extra discoveries. Professors are starting to panic, trying to save as much of their funding as possible. There has been a sudden increase in the number of conferences in Hawai’i, Cuba, and the Bahamas, as postdocs squeeze as much opportunity out of the final weeks of their careers as possible.

The ALICE Control Room will be repurposed into a massive Call of Duty multiplayer facilitiy (ALICE Matters)

“The atmosphere on site is incredible!” shouted one slightly inebriated physicist, “People say we should measure everything down to the 6th decimal place, but to be honest we’ll probably just stop after four.”

Famous atheist Richard Dawkins as leapt on the opportunity to prove the non existence of god. “If those files answer all the questions physics has left then surely it proves there is no god.” he tweeted last week. And he’s not alone. Thousands of people across the globe are finally realising that with no questions left to answer, they are completely intellectually and spiritually satisfied for the first time in history, and are busy validating their own world views.

Among the top answers are the following: Schrödinger’s cat is alive and well and living in Droitwich, god plays dice on Tuesdays, light is a particle and a wave and Canadian (and hopes you’re having a good day), electrons are strawberry flavoured, Leibniz and Newton were good friend who discovered calculus together, and if you could ride a beam of light it would be totally freaking awesome.

While the phycisists may not have much to do anymore the number of visitors has increased by a factor 3500% in the past two weeks. People from all over the world are descending upon CERN to experience extra dimensions and parallel universes. For 20 CHF a family can visit a parallel universe of their choosing for up to two weeks. Head of CERN Visits Mick Storr said “It’s a great time to visit CERN. Finally we know where we came from, where we’re going, and what we’re made of. Now I just need to work out what to have for dinner.”

Early crowds grather to see the creation of the daily 14:00 wormhole at CMS. (CERN)

It’s unclear what will happen next. There are certainly questions about how best to use the extra dimensions, but the biggest problem is a social one. Nobody knows what will happen to the thousands of physicists who will have to re-enter the “real world”. It’s a scary place for some, and physicists lack basic transferable skills such as burger flipping and riot control.

Whatever happens, everyone will look back at the Winter of 2015 as most exciting year in science history. This year’s Nobel Prize ceremony will be a complicated matter indeed.

2014: LHC Scientists face major setback

1st April 2014. The LHC is currently in shutdown in preparation for the next physics run in 2015. However the record breaking accelerator is danger is falling far behind schedule as the engineers struggle with technical difficulties 100m below ground level.

The LHC tunnels house the 27km long particle accelerator in carefully controlled conditions. When the beams circulate they must be kept colder than anywhere else in the solar system, and with a vacuum more empty the voids of outer space. Any disruption to the cryogenic cooling systems or the vacuum systems can place serious strain on the operations timetable, and engineers have found signs of severe damage.

Scientists patrol the LHC, inspecting the damaged areas.

The first indications of problems were identified coming from Sector 7 between areas F and H. Cryogenics expert, Francis Urquhart said “My team noticed dents in the service pipes about 50cm from the floor. There was also a deposit of white fibrous foreign matter on some of the cable trays.” The pipes were replaced, but the damage returned the following day, and small black aromatic samples were found piled on the floor. These were sent for analysis and after chemical tests confirmed that they contained no liquid Helium, and that radiometry found they posed no ionisation risk, they were finally identified as Ovis aries depositions.

Ovis aries are found throughout the CERN site, so on-site contamination could not be ruled out. It is currently thought that the specimens entered the Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS) accelerator and proceeded from the SPS to the LHC, leaving deposits as they went. The expert in charge, Gabriella Oak, could not be reached for comment, but is said to be left feeling “rather sheepish”.

Elsewhere on the ring there was another breach of the security protocols as several specimens of Bovinae were found in the ring. The Bovinae are common in Switzerland and it due to their size, must have entered via one of the service elevators. All access points and elevators at the LHC are carefully controlled using biometry and retinal scans, making unauthorised entry virtually impossible. Upon being asked whether the Bovinae had been seen scanning their retinae at the security checkpoints, Francis Urquhart replied “You might very well think that. I could not possibly comment.” While evidence of such actions cannot be found CCTV footage, there have been signs of chewed cud found on the floor, and Bovinae deposits, which are significantly larger than the Ovis deposits, owing to the difference in size.

The retinal scans at the LHC are designed exclusively for human use. A search of the biometric record database show at least one individual (R Wiggum) with unusual retinae, affiliated to “Bovine University”.

It is not known exactly how much fauna is currently in the LHC tunnels, although it is thought to be at least 25 different specimens. They can be identified by the bells they carry around their necks, which can sound like klaxons when they charge. Until the fauna have been cleared, essential repair work is extremely difficult. “I was repairing some damage caused by a passing cow” said Stanford PhD student Cecilia, “when I thought I heard the low oxygen klaxon. By the time I realised it was just two sheep I had already put on my safety mask and pulled the alarm to evacuate the tunnels.” She then commented “It took us three hours to get access to the tunnels again, and the noises and lights had caused the animals to panic, creating even more damage to clean up.”

This is not the first time a complex of tunnels has been overrun by farm animals. In the early 90s the London Underground was found to be infested with horses, which turned into a longterm problem and took many years to resolve.

Current estimates on the delay to the schedule range from a few weeks to almost a decade. Head of ATLAS operations, Dr Remy Beauregard Hadley, comments “I can’t believe all this has happened. They talk about Bovinae deposits delaying the turn on, and I think it’s just a load of bullshit!”

2013: The Substandard Model of Particle Physics

Now that we are on the verge of completing the Standard Model of Particle Physics, it’s time to look to the future of the field. Five physicists at CERN present their new state of the art* theory: The Substandard Model of Physics!

“It’s easy to understand but questionably accurate.” Mandy Baxter (Marine Biogeochemical Microbiologist, USCB)

Thanks to the actors.

  • The Substandard Model Task Force:
    • Androula Alekou (Neutrino Expert)
    • Katie Malone (Higgs Expert)
    • Stephen Ogilvy (Flavor Expert)
    • Aidan Randle-Conde (QCD Expert)
    • Lee Tomlinson (QFT Expert)
  • Steve Marsden (Standard Model Expert)
  • Helen Lambert (Environmental Sanitization Team)

You can find Steve and Aidan on youtube and twitter:

Visit the US LHC Blogs at Quantum Diaries

Music: Off to Osaka, Kevin Macleod, incompetech

Images taken from CKMFitter, UTFit, Wikimedia.

This video does not reflect the views of CERN. It does not even reflect the views of the actors. In fact I’d be surprised if it reflected the views of anyone at all.

Thanks to Adam Davidson for inspiring the name. It was a off handed comment you made about 7 years ago that stuck with me ever since. Finally it has become a reality!

Apologies for the slightly out of focus footage and extra frame. Some small technical glitches always get through.

(*We’re just not sure what kind of a state, and what kind of art it is.)

2012: Physicists discover large body orbiting Earth!

After gathering a huge amount of data the physicists at the Ice Cube experiment in Antarctica have come to an inescapable and startling conclusion. There is a massive body orbiting the Earth, and the scientists can see its “shadow” in their data. They can even trace its path across the sky.

This body is called “Luno” by some scientists and it seems to be cross the sky once every 29.5 days. The mass of Luno is estimated to be quite staggering- about 1% of the mass of the Earth! Despite its large size there seems to be little danger posed by this body, It seems to be orbiting happily, showing no sign deviating from its course. Taking a look at the data once the movement of Luno is taken into account gives a striking pattern, confirming that its orbit is indeed stable over long periods of time:

The position of neutrinos in the sky respect to Luno (Ice Cube) (Link to pdf)

The Ice Cube experiment is a neutrino observatory that searches for high energy neutrinos from outer space. These are thought to be given off by gamma ray bursts, neutron stars and alien TV broadcasts. (Some controversial theories also state that we can expect high energy neutrinos from malfunctioning microwave ovens and vacuum cleaners. But it would have to be some extreme form of malfunction.) As the neutrinos cosmic rays hit Luno they interact and the associated neutrinos don’t make it to Ice Cube. This is how Ice Cube see the “shadow” of Luno:

Schematic of the shadow of Luno (Ice Cube) (Link to pdf)

Other observations of Luno

This is not the first time that a particle physics experiment has speculated about a massive extra terrestrial body. The experiments at LEP postulated the existence of a massive body outside the Earth that changed their centre of mass energies. The assumptions went as far as to say that Luno was responsible for huge tidal forces that changed the shape of the Earth subtly around LEP. Then again, the LEP experiments were also sensitive to the TGV train timetables and meetings of the CERN Yoga Club.

Scientists at NASA have been studying Luno and they have come to some interesting conclusions. The most striking prediction is that Luno should be visible to the naked eye. Luno should reflect electromagnetic radiation from the sun, making it particularly visible at night. It is also thought that Luno is largely responsible for the tides we see in the seas and oceans across the world, a phenomenon which had been a mystery for centuries. Luno could even block the line of sight between the sun and the Earth, causing nightfall for a brief period of time. This could cause panic for people from scientifically illiterate cultures, nocturnal animals and biochemists. After much study there have been a number of artist’s impressions to help with identification of Luno:

Schematic of the shadow of Luno (Ice Cube) (Link to pdf)

Ancient prophecy

Although Ice Cube has only discovered Luno recently, there are several examples of prophecy of Luno in various forms. Several ancient civilizations drew pictograms that represented Luno in some way with some examples, such as the Tarot deck, surviving to the present day. Some cultures even had a Luno deity, such as Khonsu of the ancient Egyptians. His pictogram includes a large figure, which carries Luno. Given the size of Luno, we should be able to see the large figure as well, but all searches have been fruitless. Some people think that this figure may be even harder to find than SUSY, or even extra dimensions (outside of the Terry Pratchett universe.)

Schematic of the shadow of Luno (Ice Cube) (Link to pdf)

Whatever Luno is, it should be heralded as one of the greatest discoveries of 2012, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it won the Nobel Prize!