10 September 2008

The World As We Know It c. 4,567,000,000BC - 2008AD

As we at As A Dodo board the speedy interstellar craft we knocked up in the potting shed this morning and prepare to launch ourselves towards a new life on a new planet, we wish to mourn The World As We Know It, which is expected to end at 7.30 GMT this morning, not with a whimper but with a mini-Big Bang, following the official start-up of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN(1))'s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) on the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva.

The World As We Know It was born when a large rotating cloud of dust, rocks and gas coalesced in the frozen wastes of space(2). It was just one of a family of nine planets, though sadly its smallest sibling Pluto, passed away in 2006 after a run in with a gang of astronomers hopped up on research grants and expense accounts.

A precocious child, it was not long before The World As We Know It was outshining its fellow planets, taking only half a billion years or so to develop life(3). Soon The World As We Know It was filled with more life than the six-month-old yoghurt in a student's fridge, while its brothers and sisters were either hanging around being gassy, dropping their magnetospheres at the first sight of the solar wind or, in the case of Venus, experimenting with lethal cocktails of sulphuric acid clouds, a greenhouse effect that would melt lead and the kind of crushing pressures normally only felt by teenage boys about to *gulp* go out on their first proper date.

It would be wrong to suggest that The World As We Know It didn't have its own ups and downs. In its youth it was a heavy smoker, indulging in major periods of vulcanism, it had numerous run-ins with gangs of marauding asteroids and, at the age of 3 billion, dabbled for a long time with vast amounts of snow - a practice still enjoyed today by many Groucho club regulars. Yet, despite all this, The World As We Know It managed to struggle on and life struggled along with it. Eventually - after numerous experiments with ediacara, early synapsids, dinosaurs and more bacteria than you could shake an enormously large and pointy stick at - The World As We Know It gave rise to humans.

In the brief span of their existence, humans were to give rise to many wonders. In the past they created the Great Pyramids, the works of Shakespeare and the music of Mozart. In more recent years they created Donald Trump's hair, Deal or No Deal and the Lindsay Lohan upskirt shot.

Yet it was by the hand of man that all these wondrous things, along with The World As We Know It, would be destroyed. As part of mankind(4)'s eternal quest for knowledge, he sought to plumb the darkest secrets of the universe, creating the 27-kilometre long LHC in attempt to validate the Standard Model of particle physics, reveal the nature of Dark Matter and perhaps even recreate a Higgs Boson, the so-called "God particle". Such hubris could not go unpunished.

Despite the warnings of some of the finest scientific minds(5) that the vast energies involved, as the LHC accelerated protons to near the speed of light and then smashed them together to see what they're made of, would create black holes capable of swallowing up The World As We Know It, the scientists at CERN insisted on pressing on, their only defence of their actions being years of painstaking scientific study, careful calculation and the belief that - in the words of Manchester University's Professor Brian Cox - "Anyone who thinks the LHC will destroy the world is a twat". Thus it was that they prepared to doom The World As We Know It.

The end of The World As We Know it will be marked by the wailing of the Rapture Ready suddenly conscious that they have not been mysteriously spirited from the face of the Earth but rather that the Earth has suddenly been spirited from under their feet and a gleeful REM celebrating a sudden upsurge in iTunes sales.

(1) Yes, we know the acronym doesn't work but when everyone tried explaining that to the French they just shrugged their shoulders, said "Bouf" and took another puff on their Gitanes.
(2) By weird coincidence, if you omit the words "of space" from the previous sentence and add in "fundamentalist Christian beliefs, danger red lipstick and a sassy attitude" to the dust, rocks and gas, you pretty much have the origin of 2008 Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
(3) which arose either from the so-called "primordial soup" or through "Panspermia", which is the theory that the building blocks of life arrived from outer space and is wholly unrelated to what your elder brother used to do every time Pan's People came on Top of the Pops.
(4) or at least that part of mankind not wedded to the fatuous notion that all the answers are contained in a 2,000 year old book.
(5) by which we mean the same Daily Mail correspondents who insist on dividing everything in the universe into either a cause of or cure for cancer.


Moggs Tigerpaw said...


1. When exactly was it supposed to happen?

2. Is it possible it could happen so quickly we would all be instantly translated to some afterlife... without actually noticing right away.

3. is it possible it's all a load of apocalyptic clap trap like the millennium bug?

jmb said...

Five star as usual.

Colin Campbell said...

Can I go for a spin?

Finally I understand black holes.

Baht At said...

it's worth pointing out that he actually said "fucking twat".

Anonymous said...

am I like dead and that?

The As A Dodo Team said...

Well, obviously, the LHC (in it's brief period of operation) must have knocked us all into an alternate universe where the world didn't end. So you're still alive in this universe, though you should perhaps give a quick doggy howl for your dead former self in the old universe.

Moggs Tigerpaw said...

So you think this is a quantum thing then...

Like in Mutley's case he is still in superposition... Schrodinger's dog?

And this combined with the anthropic principle means it is us observing and not the lot that were sucked into a black hole?