run #83

Sometimes I sit and wonder about all the fancy, high-tech, top-secret experiments that are likely being carried out all over the world at any given moment.

Somewhere at MIT, students are hurtling particles down long accelerator arms toward a measurable collision; somewhere in Germany, chemists are synthesizing new proteins and seeing how they interact with other substances; somewhere in China, nuclear scientists in white lab coats might be working on a new form of nuclear power – unstable now but with hopes of making it viable. All over the globe, humankind is pushing the boundaries of knowledge – doing experiments to watch and study the results. Yes, all across the Earth things which have never been done or observed before are being done – all just to satisfy a curiosity… to see what happens. Without this kind of experimentation and curiosity, we’d never have come as far as we have. Without Rutherford firing particles at gold foil, Mendel’s selective breeding, or Otto’s combustion engine – humans would be a long way from where we are now.

When I sit and think about it, all the groundbreaking experiments going on, all the potential discoveries and curiosities being satisfied – my mind takes a darker turn. One day, while waiting to “see what happens” as the outcome of one of those experiments – something may go wrong. What if the results of a new experiment are unexpected? Run #83 of a series of 10,000 tests making up a battery of experiments, for example. Run #83 creates an explosion big enough to destroy the entire Earth. Just think of it, a team of scientists casually watching their experiment run through its paces… noting results as the computer captures loads of data… sipping coffee and discussing physics – when up comes test #83. One minute detail in thousands of parameters is tweaked ever-so slightly and bang… the end of everything. Yeah, I think about that from time to time. A massive wave of destruction starting from a physics lab at a Brazilian university and overtaking the universe – all because some grad students were experimenting with gravity in an attempt to study black holes. A flash of light and life as we know it ends, billions of years of evolution erased because one researcher was trying to turn water into a viable replacement for fossil fuel. Poof. Every day, there must be millions of experiments happening at any given moment…

What will you be doing when run #83 vaporizes you, only a flash of light for warning before you cease to exist?

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