Monday, April 4, 2016

CERN Is Seeking Secrets of the Universe, or Maybe Opening the Portals of Hell

GENEVA—The European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, is gearing up for another run at smashing particles together to unlock the secrets of the universe.
That means anticipating a new round of conspiracy theories that its real aim is to blast open a gateway for apocalyptic demons.
Never mind that a few years ago, CERN scientists discovered a particle crucial to the understanding of physical matter. Many Internet commenters want to talk about how CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, a 17-mile subterranean loop that smashes particles at nearly the speed of light, may breach another dimension and unleash the forces of darkness.
One commenter fretted about how best to confront them: “Do we buy guns and ammo?”
Others zeroed in on the statue of Shiva, a Hindu god of destruction, on CERN’s Geneva campus—it might have caused last year’s deadly earthquake in Nepal, one blogger thought. Also, what about the CERN logo that looks a lot like the 666 sign of the Antichrist?
“We Should be Very Scared About CERN,” read the headline of an opinion piece published by The Daily Reporter, in Coldwater, Mich., that suggested the organization could “destroy our universe.”
CERN’s Shiva 
Last summer, Internet chatter about CERN’s role in hastening doomsday spiked. “It got to the point where there really needed to be some intervention,” said Kate Kahle, who oversees social media at CERN.
In September, CERN quietly posted the sort of frequently asked questions page many organizations publish. But this one had a unique working title: “Surreal FAQ.”
In its deadpan rejoinders, CERN said its activities won’t open a door to another dimension; Shiva, a gift from the Indian government, also represents the life force, and we have lots of statues; our logo is meant to represent particle accelerators—not Satan.
Ms. Kahle thinks this helped curb the clamor, as the page pops up in searches performed by skeptics.
And yet, according to Michael Barkun, a professor emeritus of political science at the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, CERN has demonstrated a special ability to attract the “conspiracy subculture.”
“Any time you have forces that are high energy and invisible,” like those in the Large Hadron Collider, “they lend themselves to these kinds of interpretations,” Mr. Barkun said.
CERN’s control room last month.ENLARGE
CERN’s control room last month. PHOTO: JOHN LETZING
The Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, should be smashing particles together again by the end of this month. Scientists hope to top their 2012 discovery of a Higgs boson—one of the universe’s fundamental particles.
An LHC restart can often trigger a fresh cycle of fear mongering, Ms. Kahle said. That makes this a key test for the Surreal FAQ.
CERN’s reception area resembles the interior of an aging U.S. high school. A bike-sharing stall sits outside the main entrance. A sign hung in the control room reads, “Think Like a Proton, Always Positive.” The tableau might not be what the conspiracy-minded imagine.
“Probably, they would be disappointed,” acknowledged CERN spokesman Arnaud Marsollier.
A degree of suspicion has dogged CERN’s LHC for years. In 2008, a man named Walter Wagner filed a lawsuit in Hawaii seeking to halt the accelerator’s first run. He warned it might trigger a black hole that could devour the Earth. The complaint was dismissed.
Mr. Wagner insists something may yet be awry. “Either nothing happened,” he said, “or if something did happen, we won’t know about it for centuries.”
A group of Raelians, who see life on Earth as the creation of scientists from another planet, announced last year they would stage a demonstration at CERN’s campus to protest the LHC’s destruction of tiny life forms contained within particles.
“I guess they more or less see particles as planets with very small ‘people’ on them,” Mr. Marsollier said. The Raelians never showed up.
CERN’s public relations team has tried to be proactive about its complicated profile. When Hollywood ginned up an adaptation of the Dan Brown mystery-thriller “Angels & Demons” in 2009, about a plot to use antimatter created by the LHC to build a bomb, CERN chose to participate. Scientists from the organization contributed to the script.
Last summer, the theories about CERN flourishing online were less clearly labeled fiction. Searches for Armageddon-related terms on Google Maps such as “6th Seal” started pointing to CERN’s location (“Many of these associations have no grounding in fact,” CERN states in its FAQ).
“Sometimes search terms trigger unexpected maps results,” a Google spokesman said. That can happen if search terms, like “New World Order,” are being used online to describe a place.
A technician in the Large Hadron Collider tunnel.ENLARGE
A technician in the Large Hadron Collider tunnel. PHOTO: LAURENT GILLIERON/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Ms. Kahle, who has a degree in physics, said she has tried to engage directly with “serial conspiracy theorists,” with mixed results. She said the response to one of her denials of occult mischief was: “What is that a ‘no’ to, the portal or the demons?”
The target audience for the Surreal FAQ is people who may be legitimately confused, Ms. Kahle said.
Steve Andrews, an author and musician, wrote a feverish blog post several years ago noting among other things that, “The CERN logo is plainly 666.” He later updated the post to say his conclusions may have been hasty.
More recently, he said of CERN’s FAQ page, “It does work to explain the actual situation.”
Mr. Marsollier, the CERN spokesman, said CERN’s low-key FAQ page was inspired by a different PR method at NASA. The U.S. space agency had become a focus for doomsday theorists last summer. In August, it issued a news release headlined, “There is No Asteroid Threatening Earth.” Mr. Marsollier said he thought that only seemed to inflame fears.
A NASA spokesman said the agency “provides the science facts to help quell the science fiction that can lead to undue concern.”
Mr. Marsollier said he is prepared for more theories to come. The latest: a dance opera filmed inside CERN, “Symmetry,” has raised antennae. YouTube commenters have discussed its “occult symbolism.”
Mr. Marsollier suggested that “Symmetry” could be added to the FAQ page—a tool that can always be updated.
“The end of the world will happen again sometime,” Mr. Marsollier said with a shrug, “so it will be useful to keep this.”
You may also like:

1 comment :

  1. Shivu is the protector. Arthi is the defender. There son is Zekru (Shakru) the preacher of all sciences and the Ma-Hu-Ya-Nu. The O+ community who has the 'Brain'. All preachers had the same life story and belong to the same genetic combination.