News bulletin: Scientists working at the world’s biggest atom smasher near Geneva have announced the discovery of a new subatomic particle that looks remarkably like the long-sought Higgs boson. Sometimes called the “God particle” because its existence is fundamental to the creation of the universe, the hunt for the Higgs involved thousands of scientists from all over the world.
That announcement sounded like it was very important but its significance was lost on me because I’m not a quantum physicist, just a modest and much-beloved columnist. Also, the only thing I have ever smashed is a cockroach. I hate cockroaches. I do, however, understand the part about the “God particle” because if we keep messing around with His universe and not giving Him full credit for what He has created, we are likely to end up atop Mt. Ararat in a rowboat with two houseflies and a pair of possums.
The bigger question is what does this mean to our daily lives? That required a call to Plum Nelly Pitts, of Varnell, Georgia, the prestigious and prodigious prognosticator. You will recall it was Plum Nelly who first predicted that if we looked in one of Vice President Joe Biden’s ears we could see clear through to the other side.
“Well, darlin’,” Plum Nelly said when she answered the phone, “I kind of thought you might be getting in touch.” She knew it was me calling before I had said a word. This is either another amazing example of her extraordinary psychic powers or she has caller ID.
“I’m guessing all that talk about smashing atoms has got you a little upset,” she said. I admitted that I had planned to spend a lot of time at Big Canoe this summer but if the world was coming to an end, I didn’t want to waste the gas if a Higgs boson was going to smash my car.
“Don’t waste your noggin worrying about that,” Plum Nelly assured me, “The Higgs boson isn’t going hurt your car because it is primarily responsible for the existence of mass in the elementary particles.” How does she know this stuff? Plum Nelly Pitts never ceases to amaze me.
“Will civilization as we know it change,” I asked with trepidation. “Do you mean, are members of the Legislature going to quit mooching meals and free tickets to tractor pulls and the circus from lizard-loafered lobbyists? Ain’t no boson on God’s green earth going to change that,” Plum Nell Pitts said firmly. “You can go to the bank on that one.”
I didn’t want to sound like a know-it-all, but I had already figured that one out for myself. Still, I wondered whether or not smashing all those atoms might have a deleterious impact on our civilization in other ways.
“Sugar, you can smash all the atoms you want but as one of those comedians on television says, you can’t fix stupid,” she said. “Or to paraphrase the Good Book, ‘the stupid we will always have with us.” I should have been assuaged by that because as a columnist I need all the stupidity I can lay my hands on. But I wanted more assurance.
“Let me put it this way,” Plum Nelly Pitts said, “because a bunch of scientists crushed a few atoms over in Switzerland, do you think Isaiah Crowell is suddenly going to decide that driving around Athens at 3:30 a.m. with an unregistered gun under the seat is a bad idea? Is our ambassador to outer space Cynthia McKinney going to open her mouth and say something that makes sense?
“You think that preacher that runs the Baptist seminary in Kentucky is going to say that he didn’t mean yoga was a sin; he really meant yogurt? And how about Sen. Chip Rogers saying we can do things ourselves and don’t need government doing it for us while he is pushing for state government to take over the charter schools commission. Darlin’, you can’t smash atoms small enough to fix these kinds of dumb.”
Plum Nelly said she had some other thoughts on the subject but she had to go. Prestigious and prodigious prognosticating makes her voice week and she has choir practice tonight. She made me feel better that the Higgs boson is not going to change life as we know it — with the exception that Isaiah Crowell is headed to Alabama State. I plan to give the officials there Plum Nelly’s phone number in Varnell. I predict they are going to need it.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, GA 31139.