A Couple of Earthy Things


How many of you were told as children that if you dug a hole through to the other side of the world (and your parents may have started you on the task as mine did) that you’d come out in China? Well, I’ve just checked that out, and darned if my parents are not totally discredited and I will never ever believe anything else they say. From our back yard, you see we just missed Australia’s west coast–a long swim for a tired digger.

See the Google Map function called “Map Tunnelling” and as you’d expect if you think about it, from anywhere in the northern hemisphere, you’ll come out in the southern ocean somewhere. So much for emerging from my hole and seeing curious yellow people in cone-shaped hats and rickshaws. And my, how our national stereotypes have changed, now that I think about it.

AND….If you’re interested (I haven’t found many people who seem to be, which puzzles me) the largest, most complex, most expensive science experiment in human history (and some few think it may be the LAST) will be underway in–see the countdown timer–four days and 17 hours as of this writing.   Structurally, the Large Hadron Collider (not in our back yard) is the equivalent of building an eight story high 17 mile ‘round International Space Station underground.

Let’s just call it what it is: the Lesser Big Bang Machine. The pictures are awesome.   You look at all those hundreds of thousands of connections, switches and dials and thousands of miles of cable and think could anything possibly go wrong? Nah. We’ve never had any unforeseen human or mechanical error in our space program, for instance.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. On a serious note, our local university (from which I hold 1.5 degrees in physics) hired a new professor, who did some post-doc work at CERN, to head our physics department. These are exciting times in physics!

  2. Thanks for the link, Fred. The photos were stunning. I am more surprised at this being a creation of Europe’s and not ours than I am at what they have created. Is this just the first among many signs that our star is descending?
    I’ll be proud of their accomplishment anyway. And I guess just because the location is Europe doesn’t mean that US scientists didn’t play a large role.