A Physics Carol (Scene 2)

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A play written by: Martin Flechl


Scene 2: The Present
(Mileva is on one side of the stage. Higgs comes close to her, hardly realises her presence, and talks to the audience)
Higgs    : Hi. My Name is Peter Higgs. You may remember me from films such as (says all the film names very slowly) "My Life as a Boson of the Standard Model", "Breaking the Symmetry of the Standard Model" and "Who the Hell cares about the Standard Model anyway?". Today, I want to talk about the LHC. The LHC – or Large Hadron Collider – is basically one big machine, built for a single purpose:
    (Music: The Blue Danube, J. Strauss)
    (pp-collision: 2x3 people appear, with red/green/blue t-shirts and and 2 arrows pointing upwards, one downwards: 1x↓, 2x↑2x2 move on, the other 2 (red and blue) grab a string (which is red & blue, obviously) and start pulling. 2 new quarks appear (qq), cut the string, and the two pairs disappear)
Higgs    : (removing a tear drop from his right eye, very touched) Yes, this is what we will do at the LHC. (very pathetic) We will boldly go where no man has gone before, putting particles at speeds that God can't even dream of, until they meet their final destiny in a collision of…
Mileva    : (interrupting): Pretty childish.Higgs (for the first time really realises Mileva – stops looking at the audience and turns to her, rather surprised than angrily) What? (turning at the audience again, this time inconfidently) We will boldly go...
Mileva    : (interrupting): Ya ya. Childish. Did that at the age of 2: Taking bigger & bigger stuff, making them crash harder and harder, and then just looking what happens… Well, boys will be boys.
Higgs    : (now really angry, but remaining silent for 1s, then relaxes): Whatever. This is a very exciting era for physics.
Mileva    : Boring.
Higgs    : (determined): Exciting!
Mileva    : The physicists of the old school left their castles in bravery, with their laboratory as their battlefield, their minds as swords and their students as slaves. But now? Your sword is a blunt pen, your battlefield a sheet of paper – nothing new to be found, you're only defending the discoveries of the last centuries. AND YOU'RE FAILING!
Higgs    : Failing?
Mileva    : (appears bored): You're about to surrender Newton's law…
Higgs    : (getting angry): Dark matter exists and we WILL find it!
Mileva    : …and to surrender the standard model…
Higgs    : (completely mad now): Thou shalt not doubt (The Rock-Style: ) The Higgs! (this scares Mileva) In 2 years time… (we will find the final answer!)
Mileva    : (interrupting) Yes, yes… the Large Hadron Collider. Pfff.. And not only are you failing both at the large and the small scale: What about (break of 1 second, then like a lightning:) CP-Violation?
Higgs    : (turning from completely mad to totally cold in less than 1 second): We do not talk about CP-Violation.
Mileva    : But CP…
Higgs    : (interrupting) Sssshhhh… (this time a little more loudly:) We do not talk about CP-Violation!
    (During their last lines, Mileva & Higgs leave the center of the stage slowly. A red up-quark appears all out of a sudden)
Quark    : Bloody Ws!
Higgs    : (aside, quite shocked, talking to off-stage) What is this quark doing outside of confinement?!?
Quark    : Bloody Ws!
W    : (appears, very politely) I beg your pardon, Sir?
Quark    : I said Bloody CP violating bloody Ws!
W    : Sir, if u continue to insult me I may consider interacting weakly!
Quark    : What do you mean?
W    : I will do you down! And after I'm done changing your flavor…
Quark    : (interrupts) You'll decay before you do that, you imaginary bloody fake particle!
    (W & q get closer to each other, their faces full of hatred. The fight seems to be unavoidable.)
Higgs    : Gentlemen… (raising his voice) GENTLEMEN! Shouldn't we stick together in this era of a new hope for physics! I'm trying to show Mileva the beauty of the quantum world!
Mileva    : Beauty? This is a mess! Einstein was right... Weren't quarks supposed to be this cute tiny fuzzy lil thingies? Now look at them, they are scary. What the hell is going on here?
Higgs    : (While W & q leave the stage in a silent struggle, takes Mileva's hands, leads her to the other side of the stage, while walking slowly) This is a tough time for the particle zoo. Everybody's just talking about (The Rock-Style, Mileva gets scared again) The Higgs, considering them as pure background – poor tiny things, charged with emotions. And now for something completely different (reaching the other side of the stage). Forget about the particles and - (very pathetic) let me introduce to you: A new era of hope for physics!
    (Lights go on – spot on a table: 2 physicist are sitting there, a teacher of about 40-50yrs, very calm, the other one is an enthusiastic PhD-student – in the middle of a discussion. Both of them with a bottle of beer in front of them, and a 24+6-pack, half empty, on the table. They take a sip of beer occasionally during the dialog)
Student    : ... and Heisenberg published his Uncertainty Principle at the age of 23, Dirac postulated antimatter when he was only 27 and…
Teacher    : (interrupting) … and?
Student    : ...and I am 28!
Teacher    : (sighing) The world has changed since the ancient times of particle physics. You can't just go to your lab and discover the electron during your coffee break anymore. The experiments are getting larger and larger – and at the same time (gets up & raises his voice) more and more exciting! (very pathetic) In a collaboration of hundreds of nations, thousands of people, it is like... like... like...
Student    : ...like an ant-hill!
Teacher    : (still pathetic) Yes, like an ant-hill! (confused) Err.... ant-hill?
Student    : (a little desperate) Yes, I can't help it, master! I know we are close to a new era of physics, but I can't help feeling like a small ant. (getting enthusiastic) When I studied physics, you know, I dreamed of building my own experiment... of observing... of finding my own particle!
q & W     (the ones which struggled before – walk from one side of the stage to the other, now holding hands, W talking): Mission impossible... All of us have been discovered already!
Higgs    : (still observing) Shhhh... (shouting) All of you, except for the Higgs!
Student    : (to T): Did you hear that? Anyway... none left, except for the Higgs!
Teacher    : And now you are searching for it, my young padawan, you are!
Student    : (cynically) Yes, I am... together with thousands of other ants! I dreamed of building my own experiment, and now look at what I am doing: I write root-macros to make sure that for test beam number 1713, all pions with energies between 90 and 91 GeV, coming from an angle of 0.7 radians, arriving in one of the subdetectors of one of the detectors of one of the experiments of the LHC indeed have energies between 90 and 91 GeV. That's the way I spend the best days of my life...
Teacher    : (sighing) The dark matter is strong with you, young padawan, if you don't learn to control your emotions then you will end up just like your father! Patience ought to be a young physicist's virtue. In this new era of physics, mankind has to work together to achieve what a single person could not achieve in a thousand of years! You cannot go out and search for the Higgs... stay here, be patient, and wait until the Higgs comes for you!
Student    : (ashamed) Yes, master, you are right. In this era of hope we have to stick together, (raises his voice) physicists of the world: Unite!
Teacher    : In this greatest battle of all ages we will not fail. Driven by your youth, you only focus on yourself and not on our challenge. Today it seems like the work of an ant to you, but one day you will get the chance to prove your skills! Be patient!
Student    : Yes, master! (takes a sip of his beer) May the Higgs be with you...
Teacher    : May the Higgs be with you!
    (lights go off slowly, spot on Higgs & Mileva again)
Mileva    : What's this? Star Wars? Any reason why you are showing these two nerds to me?
Higgs    : (sadly) You don't understand it, do you? (looks down at the floor, silence for a few seconds)
Mileva    : (turning to H, getting closer, feeling guilty) You really believe they will find the Higgs? Listen, I don't mean to make you sad. Just... You know, it's possible that they won't find anything. No Higgs discovered, no Higgs existing, no Higgs around!
Higgs    : (everytime M says "no Higgs" he reacts as if somebody stabbed him – recovers, determined) Young lady! This is pure blasphemy! If all young physicists doubted our axioms... well, look at this:(waves his hands – Student & Teacher appear again, Student walking & looking at his notebook, Teacher behind him)
Student    : (excited) I found it! There it is... a clear signal – no doubt about it! Oh my Higgs, what would life be like without you?
Teacher    : (calm) Patience, young padawan, patience! I can feel the presence of the dark matter (looks in the approximate direction of Mileva) You think you found the Higgs? Tell me – how many sigmas?
Student    : (pushing some buttons) Well... 3.
Teacher    : 3 sigmas? We need at least 5 for Stockholm!
Student    : But master...(walking off the stage while talking)
Higgs    : (triumphating) Ha, told you!
Mileva    : (overwhelmed, close to tears) Oh my god... I've been dreaming of this since I was a little girl – this is living history! (her mood changing from affection to hilarious joy within a moment, shouting, dancing) They found it... they found it... they really really found it!
Higgs & Mileva: (She grabs Higgs' hands, they dance like children, moving towards the exit): Found it, found it, found it, .... (exit)
Student     (appears with notebook for a few seconds): This is a disaster! 1.7 sigma and decreasing! Mileva (after S left) walks on again, euphoric about the discovery of the higgs, still dancing / singing