“I want to go to heaven,

Wherever the hell that is”

-Ayn Rand

“Sir, are we really going to die?” asked the canteen contractor in my hostel the other day. He obviously meant that in reference to the “big bang experiment.” I told him the basics of the experiment and eventually the fact that we are not going to heaven [or much better, hell]. He was relieved in the end but it did get me thinking. Why are people so afraid of death? Isn’t it the most certain thing in this world? But let us not get into philosophy and let’s just leave these heavy statements to countless ‘babas’ who make tones of money out of it.

Wondered why people were so scared of such a simple experiment? For the unfamiliar souls, however, let me tell you what the fuss is about. Scientists at the CERN lab in Geneva, Switzerland decided to construct the Large Hadron Collider [ A particle accelerator] . By colliding proton and neutron beams, they will recreate the moment the universe was created or the “big bang”. As the biggest experiment in the history of physics, it will help in unlocking many of the mysteries of the universe. Skeptics, however, say that this will create several ‘mini’ black holes which will eventually gobble up the earth and we all will die happily. Obviously, this theory isn’t practically correct and is just a way to evoke sensationalism.

Coming back to our reasons, let’s say, a black hole does gobble up Switzerland. There you are! At one go, we have lost illegal bank accounts of our politicians, locales of Yash Raj movies, honeymooners’ delight etc. No wonder they are worried! They may not know what in Jesus’ name, a black hole is, but ask them and they’ll jump to give a speech about it. I think some politicians have even denounced the experiment as a conspiracy against India by some “foreign hand”. Tell this to 100 Indian scientists also involved in the project and they will want to create a black hole out of you.

And about Yash Raj films? Well, they are Indians. They can create their own Switzerland around Chandigarh, where they are currently shooting for that upcoming Aditya Chopra movie.

Since the LHC is at the French- Swiss border, the stakes are high that France also accompanies Switzerland and if that happens, how will we be able taste exotic French wines? And did someone mention the Eiffel Tower? Oh please, we have ours right here in Ramoji film city, Hyderabad. So, do stock up on your wines. Who knows?

Well, in the end, people are really scared because they are like that only. Come on! If you don’t have enough brains and believe everything what media says, you ought to be a chicken wing. So, all those who watched news channels in the run up to this event, will agree that somehow sensationalism created such a black hole that it gobbled up Physics which is supposed to be beautifully at the centre stage . Some news channels were too kind to dish out every useless aspect as breaking news. One absolutely classic update was: “The project head at CERN had gone out for a few minutes and there was hysteria that he had “escaped” because something weird was going to happen!”

So all these news channels were busy murdering physics and scaring innocent souls and we were all busy watching the needless drama and adding to the coffers to these news channels. You might wonder how? Well, TRPs increase and so do sponsors. Imagine, someday every bit will be sponsored by some MNC. How about this: Breaking News: Comet to hit earth within one hour and we all will die. This news (item was sponsored by the Coffin Movers) ‘With you, after you die!’ Now, that’ll be something.

These news channels do take the cake. In fact, they eat it too. Ask Chaya, the 16 year old girl from Indore, who got so scared watching these channels that she committed suicide. Who is at fault here? The Channels? The girl herself? Or her parents? I would say that all of them were partners in crime.

The event has come and gone. The hysteria is over. Or is it? The collision or “the main thing” is scheduled for 21st October. So, we may still get lucky with our death. Although unfortunately, science says we wont. Sigh! And pray, why are we so scared in the first place? Cutting trees, polluting, littering etc; we are destroying our earth everyday in bits and pieces ourselves, so why this hype over an event?. Ah! I get it! We all are hell bent on destroying earth ourselves. No other life form or event can take our well-deserved credit. And how about having a black hole at Singur ? Ratan Tata would really like to see a “certain someone” to be gobbled up.

So in the end, we are all going to live. And we will not learn any lessons from this. We will still go on with our routine lives, thinking that we have eternity. But we don’t, do we? I wish we do change but I don’t see that happening. And that’s why, although my canteen wala is happy, I’ll still be pessimistic and glum: Damn! We are still alive!

Mayank Sharma

[Image source:http://www.flickr.com/photos/lightknight/2045952119/]