Rules are made to be broken, but not that one!

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Arthur Sasse/United Press International, 1951.
Arthur Sasse/United Press International, 1951.

Whilst physicists try to understand the implications of, and undo any harm done by, the announcement that certain particles can travel faster than the speed of light, others are capitalising upon this phenomenon, to the advantage of plant biology in particular. Already there are reports that a ‘faster-than-light’ microscope is being built. The so-called FLiM will be used to study plant embryos to see if phylogeny really does recapitulate ontogeny, or maybe the other way round. Regardless of the attendant flim-flam, I suspect hackles will rise at that notion. In an even more ambitious project, reasonably intelligent designers are fabricating a device that will travel back in time, and which will allow its passengers to see if evolution really happened. Science fact or science friction? Who knows, but this project is determined to create more light than heat in its execution. The craft – nicknamed (in a competition won by a Mr R. Dawkins [not his real name?] of ‘Oxbridgeshire’) the ‘Dar win-win’ – will also be used to establish once-and-for-all why Photosystem II works first and Photosystem I works second in photosynthesis, and to rule on whether the serial endosymbiotic notion of eukaryotic cell evolution is actually a Hypothesis, a Theory, a Law, or whatever. There are also stories that a rival device is being created that will be crewed by PhDs from the World Health Organisation. The aim of that ship full of Dr WHOs is to identify crop pests and eradicate them before they blight lives, etc (the fact that this may well change the course of history is not something they appear to have considered). That craft – christened the Higgs – will be ready for launch just as soon as they’ve found the final crew member, the hitherto elusive boatswain. Travelling faster than a speeding pullet – to paraphrase Superman’s famous tag line, at least one of these time machines should also be able to answer the age-old conundrum of whether the egg – or the chicken, we’re not ovocentric here! – came first, both ends of the poultry spectrum having previously claimed this primacy (http://newsfeed.time.com/2010/07/14/the-chicken-and-the-egg-ancient-mystery-solved/ and http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2006/may/26/uknews). Presumably, time(!) will tell if all of this is just another good particle delusion and that physics is actually still OK, or not…. [Each of these so-called time machines is officially a TARDIS – This Article Really Doesn’t Include Science – Ed.]


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