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Weird Science

In the Event That You Have Accidentally Swallowed the Higgs Boson

Ingesting a wily particle is no laughing matter. Ten steps of concrete advice to consider before your hands grow to the size of large cities.

Photograph by Dana Maltby

First, congratulations for proving the existence of the Higgs boson! This feat will shortly catapult you into the scientific stratosphere, where you will be lauded with prestigious awards and offers of tenure. Your life will change tomorrow, but today, at this moment, you must concentrate on staying calm and eliminating the wily particle. You can’t spend that Nobel Prize money if you’re dead.

1. Do not panic. Resist the urge to induce vomiting. If the Higgs boson gets stuck in your teeth, they could turn into pure light.

2. If space and time have inverted within your body, skip to step 10.

3. Higgs bosons exist in a Higgs field. If you find that you or any of your atoms are in a Higgs field, remove yourself and them immediately to prevent further ingestion. At least cover your head. If you feel a sharp jolt, you are merely standing in an electromagnetic field, from which it may also be wise to remove yourself.

4. If you happen to ingest the Higgs boson in Europe, proceed to the CERN laboratory in Geneva. Don’t take the airport tram, take the special bus from Meyrin. Make sure you are carrying no metallic objects, as the Large Hadron Collider’s magnetic field is 100,000 times more powerful than the average planet’s. If you are not in Europe, proceed to your nearest hospital, preferably one with a particle physics ward.

Do you feel protons decaying? Grand Unification may be occurring near your vital organs.

5. Until such time as you are able to reach Geneva and/or a trained physicist, you may attempt the Freundlich Maneuver on yourself, as you will remember from reading Vector? You Brought ‘er! Health Hazards in Quantum Physics (Jonathan Cape, 2002). If you have been remiss in your self-study of particle safety, do not assume that the Freundlich Maneuver is anything like the Heimlich Maneuver. Their similar names are a constant nuisance to the estates of both Dr. H. J. Heimlich and Count Udo von Freundlich. The Count’s maneuver does not involve egestion or thrusting. Rather, it is a firming of the will that respects the Higgs boson while asserting your own dominance. Just because it can create mass doesn’t mean it has to.

6. If the Higgs boson begins creating mass in your esophagus or stomach before you reach a hospital, you will need to perform an immediate bosonectomy on yourself. Luckily, surgical knowledge is not necessary. Just choose from the array of probable outcomes that will manifest themselves upon your decision to perform surgery, and make the one most favourable to yourself into reality. Be sensible—do not wait for the outcome in which you successfully remove the boson and win the lottery and grow wings.

7. Do you feel protons decaying? Grand Unification may be occurring near your vital organs. However, this may be caused by far less elegant X bosons—the poor man’s Higgs, as it were. We shall not deal with these “country cousins” here. Still, you must not use electroweak force in this situation. You must at least attempt to curb the force of your nuclei to delay Grand Unification. You would be wise to begin a preventive training regimen for your nuclei right away—Fermion My Wayward Son (Bloomsbury, 1996) contains the internationally accepted techniques.

8. For trained individuals who consider the touchy-feely Freundlich Maneuver beneath them, initiate a quantum fluctuation which resembles the formation of a new universe. The Higgs boson will attempt to create mass in the faux-universe; when it does, phase yourself out of this dimension before the boson gets wise. You may also need to rally intermediate vector bosons to keep the Higgs occupied while you make your escape. It may be encouraging to know that if something goes wrong, you have a viable kidney in each of the 11 dimensions. (In the underwater dimension, you will have to defeat the murderous, telekinetic sea sponge to get your kidney back.)

9. If all else fails, the only foolproof way to remove the Higgs boson from your innards is to disprove its existence. This assumes you are able to manipulate your limbs well enough to write a paper. If your hands have grown to the size of large cities, it is acceptable to find a jealous scientist to disprove it for you. Believe me, there will be many to choose from. Do not cheat by purchasing a pre-written paper disproving the Higgs boson. These are poorly researched and grammatically offensive, and most were written by the telekinetic sea sponge.

10. If you have skipped from step 2 to 10, and space and time have truly inverted, this step no longer has a coherent numerical value and has become a non-associative factor; in fact, this could be step 1,072 or step 30-17, or a step that only exists in a parallel universe. For any and all steps existing in a parallel universe, follow as directed and add beard.

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TMN Contributing Writer Michael Rottman lives like a lord in Toronto. His miscellany has appeared in print in The Fiddlehead, Grain, and Opium, and online at Yankee Pot Roast, Cracked, News Groper, and McSweeney’s. More by Michael Rottman