We have advanced to the point where our technologies can answer the most fundamental questions: Did the ball cross the line?

PROFESSOR HECTOR SCHLENK, Senior Research Fellow at the Bogton Institute for Public Engagement with Science.

As a scientist, I’m always being asked questions such as ‘Is human cloning achievable?’ ‘What can we do about climate change?’ and ‘Have you paid for all these items, sir?’ But recently, people have been asking me if I can explain the Higgs Boson so that it can be understood by the man in the street. ‘No’. I reply. ‘This is the very cutting edge of physics, the final piece in a fiendishly difficult puzzle made of multi-dimensional ballistics and very hard sums. If the man in the street could understand it, we in the scientific community would be kissing goodbye to all our lovely research grants’. And then they laugh, in the mistaken belief that I’m joking. And after an awkward silence I feel compelled to continue.

The Standard Model of particle physics attempts to unify what we know about the physical world into one coherent picture. The picture has largely been completed, except for one big hole – The Standard Model can’t explain why matter has mass. Accordingly, the great unresolved question of modern science is: ‘Why am I fat?’

The Higgs Boson is the thing which, it is posited, gives mass to other sub-atomic particles by clustering around them. The more Higgs Bosons you attract, the more massive you become. It is, in a very real sense, the Aitken’s rowie of particle physics.

Scientists at CERN confirm that the Large Hadron Collider (a sort of giant Scalectrix) has found what seems to be this ‘God’ particle, the discovery of which was the project’s raison d’etre. Many of the staff there are now secretly disappointed to discover that they weren’t actually trying to create black holes or working for the villain in the next James Bond film.

Perhaps it would help to imagine that I’ve got two Satsumas, and the label says they’re ‘mostly seedless’. As a scientist, and someone with a loose upper dental plate, this information is unsatisfactory. I need to know, with certainty, whether there are seeds in my tangerines or not and so in order to establish this scientifically, I accelerate each tangie to a velocity approaching the speed of light and then smash them together in a tunnel under Switzerland. Out of the many tiny fragments of skin and pulp spattered over the walls of the Large Hadron Collider (which is a pest to keep clean at the best of times) I find something that looks very much like the remains of a pip.

That pip is almost certainly the Higgs Boson, although the team at CERN concedes that it might be just a bit of pith. We have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, it’s time for elevenses, but my experiment has rendered my small citrus fruit inedible (as predicted by Heisenberg) so I’m forced to eat a buttery instead. Voila, it has given me mass! QED


‘CAVA’ KENNY CORDINER– the football pundit who kicks back!

Finally the end is night.  This Rangers pavlova has gone on long enough but at last the SPL chairmen has casted their votes.  Rangers Newco will not be playing in the top flight next season.  Quite right I says.  I mean, it’s great that Rangers has got a new home, but I’m not sure they should still be in Scottish football at all. Last night I checked the SatNav, and it turns out Newco is down in Cornwall. That’s some trek for the away fans. And the home fans.

I have fairly enjoyed watching Wimbledon this last couple of weeks. Andy Murray done us proud. He’s the first Brit for over 70 years to even make it into the final. But did anyone tell his face?  He still looked like a bulldog licking bleach off a nettle. The lovely Melody wasn’t too happy neither when she found me watching the women’s quarterfinals.  She says to me, she says “Kenny, cut it oot!  ‘At’s nae fit i’ pause button on Sky plus is for!”   I’d never really watched the tennis before.  For years I was well confused in the pub when the boys was chatting about Wimbledon.  I always thought they was speaking about Vinny Jones and his Crazy Gang.  Especially when they mentioned ‘forehand smashes’ and ‘new balls, please’.

I see Sepp Bladder has given the green thumbs up for goal line cameras in football.  Apparently they’ll be using them in the Club World Cup in December.  I would be bricking it if I was on the goal line with my camera!  What if you didn’t have any film in it?  Or your flash wasn’t working?  Or your finger was in front of the lens? Anyway, My mole at FIFA says to me that it’s taken ages to get goal line technology started because they wanted to make sure it would always catch the ball crossing the line.  They should just have got those boys what do the speed cameras on the A90.  Whenever I’m away to Stonehaven in the Jag, they catch me every time.