The Particle Collider in Novels

the final section of the LHC.
Installing the beam pipe at the ATLAS experiment on 16 June: the final section of the LHC.

Last Wednesday, I read an interesting article on the European Organization for Nuclear Research or CERN’s Large Hardon Collider that collided atoms to determine their composition – a matter that I mainly ignored previously.

De Quiros noted how Dan Brown mentioned CERN in his novel Angels and Demons. I remember reading the same book before, was it in my senior year in high school or my first year in college, I can’t remember. Despite all the flak Brown received from the the religious right, for me his novels are simply one of those books that one reads for pleasure and forget the next day. De Quiros recalled:

Dan Brown had written about it in “Angels and Demons.” Yes, the one before “The Da Vinci Code.” Brown’s story even has CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, the current sponsor of the real-life project, as the sponsor of his fictive project. In the book, someone successfully recreates the Big Bang in micro form in the CERN particle collider. That someone is a scientist-cum-priest who undertakes the project, curiously enough, to prove the existence of God. His success, he thinks, should prove something could be created from nothing. His success, he thinks, should prove that at the center of the Big Bang was a source that had sparked it all. Call it pure energy, call it the point of origin, call it—God.

Now that I think about it, I recall reading a novel late last year that was largely centered on a fictional particle collider supposedly built in the US: Herman Wouk’s A Hole in Texas.

The hole didn’t refer to any catastrophe caused by the collider’s operation – a black hole in Texas that would swallow the Earth. Rather, it referred to the vacuum caused by the US government’s stopping of the collider project. Its construction brought scientists from all over the world and employed locals for the construction and the services that catered to the project’s employees.

Anyway, it’s a rather humorous book.■


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