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Ross Murray's Border Report
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Ross Murray
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is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at ross_murray@sympatico.ca
Posted 06.16.11
Stanstead, Quebec

ROSS MURRAY

Whatsa antimatter with you?

Dear Class of 2011,

Over the next few days, you're going to receive a lot of advice. I realize that it seems like people have been preaching at you forever, and maybe you feel you've heard enough.

But most advice is pretty sound: You really should follow your dreams; it actually is important to stand up for what you believe in; combining pharmaceuticals without your doctor's approval is indeed a bad idea.

Advice is like manure on a nearby pasture: no matter how much it stinks, it probably won't do you any harm -- unless it contravenes municipal bylaws. Or is especially toxic.

Even me, I've got plenty advice: Nail polish on a cat only sounds like a good idea. Never overestimate a Customs Agent's sense of humour. "You probably shouldn't wear horizontal stripes," is never an appropriate answer. Sambuca equals no.

But, Class of 2011, as you throw off the shackles of high school and embrace your future, what I have to offer you isn't really advice. It's more of a request: Stay frikkin' away from the antimatter.

I don't expect you to understand what antimatter is, Class of 2011, because no one really does. Scientists merely pretend to understand antimatter so they can work in very cool science labs and spend cool science money and get all the cool science action at the cool science nightclubs.

The best explanation I can manage is that virtually all the universe is made up of matter, except the part that isn't. That's antimatter. Antimatter is the part that isn't is but is in fact isn't.

And here's where it gets fun: if antimatter (which isn't) comes in contact with matter (which is), there is a violent burst of pure energy, Pure energy equals boom. It's like Sambuca times 1,000,000.

Here's the thing: Scientists keep trying to trap antimatter. What are they trying to trap it in? A thing. What kind of thing? It doesn't matter what kind of thing because it's matter! Any "thing" scientists construct to trap antimatter is going to be made up of matter, unless Home Depot has a special on antimatter that I don't know about.

Until recently, those cool scientists were able to trap antimatter for only a fraction of a second. No harm done. Then this past weekend, one research team announced that they had stabilized antimatter for over fifteen minutes.

If this were a movie, this would be the part where someone says, "And then things went horribly wrong..."

I asked a science-type friend what would happen if things did, in fact, go horribly wrong." You wouldn't notice anything because you'd be gone."

Well, I guess it beats a drawn-out Rapture...

I'm sure like me, Class of 2011, you're opposed to the ripping apart of the fabric of the universe. And yet I know how you young people think. "I always ride my bike without a helmet. Sambuca doesn't affect me. Let's see what happens when we trap even more antimatter. And then we'll make popcorn. Or, wait! Dude, let's make popcorn in the antimatter thingy!"

It would end badly. Plus, I know for certain you'd leave a big mess after using the antimatter thingy.

It's not that I don't trust you, Class of 2011. I'm just saying I've seen my own children baffled by instructions on a tin of soup." We can do it," you say. "Look, we drive cars. We vote!"

Yes, and your insurance premiums are exceptionally high as a result, and I don't think there's enough insurance in the world to cover the rending of space and time. Plus: NDP.

"But antimatter may reveal the secrets of the birth of the universe," you say.

You kids just stay away from birth and big bangs, all right?

My advice, Class of 2011, is to forget science altogether. Stick with your liberal arts degrees and the only black hole you'll see is a black hole of debt. Oh, and to thine own self be true.

Ross Murray's collection, You're Not Going to Eat That, Are You?, is available in Quebec in area book stores and through www.townships.ca. He can be reached at ross_murray@sympatico.ca.

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