Friday, 28 April 2017

IN MEMORY OF EUGENE SHOEMAKER April 28,1928 - July 18,1997

The following is an edited exposé of the leaked minutes from the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting in Nantes, France of October 2011, currently featured in the 18th revised edition of Malleus Maleficus' [title withheld]. If you wish to report indiscretions or inaccuracies, please email . To make a formal complaint under IPSO rules please contact IPSO directly at .

He left out nothing. It was a breathtaking tour-de-force. Then Carolyn Porco - CICLOPS director and planetary scientist known for her pioneering work in the exploration of the outer solar system – noted that the most radical change for science and its male-dominated elite was not just, in truth, the advancement of human knowledge, but “CERN’s momentous decision to appoint the first female director-general in its 60-year history.” The formidable Fabiola Gianotti, head of one of the teams that found the Higgs boson, had beaten at least two male candidates to the job.[1] The implication being, apparently, that females were exempt from ordinary laws of progress because they were somehow less favoured by  nature than the rest of mankind. A more speculative version of the same report found room for Ms Porco adding, somewhat
I am militant feminst in that if u r male&assume
 u r superior bc of it, I will rip ur lungs out.”
gratuitously,  that she saw in the male and female not just two different genders but symbols of two historical and ideological tendencies: the liberation of the female, and the suppression of females by means of their exploitation by men.
            Frankly, it was all splendidly robust, and I, for one, will never think of her famous proposal to send the late planetary geologist Eugene Shoemaker’s cremains to the Moon, in the same way again.[2] Indeed, I  am intrigued to know what happened to the Cremains, to say nothing of the proceedings of the conference which, to my certain knowledge,  comprised some five-hundred pages of highly contentious views on what has emerged as perhaps the decade’s most talked about phenomenon.
But the first suggestion that too much emotional investment could be a dangerous thing was also heard, this time in camera, on the penultimate day of the meeting, when  James Gillies, the Head of Communication at CERN, was overheard as saying that  The Cremains might not seem like the sort of items that would warrant such an outpouring of passion, but since precisely that had been the case,  “could have properties very different from those predicted.”[3]
            This may seem an innocent enough statement,  but as a final act of pastoral aftercare, I must say, it was a nonstarter. There was, if you ask me,  a horseshoe in that glove. Indeed, it was a measure of the confusion and delusion at CERN that, after NASA announced the discovery of an ancient particle accelerator on Mars, the  spokesman for CERN described the funerary eviction of the Shoemaker Cremains as just another syndrome of post-feminist angst” (- i.e., a perception among many emancipated females that for all their achievements in the quest for gender parity, the presence of such paternalistic remains still continued to offend them). Unofficially, of course, it is rumoured  – and the wording is unlikely to have been accidental – that the immense accelerations of the Large Hadron Collider  caused a local distortion of space-time and the occurrence of a colossal gravitational wormhole, which, as a security adviser warned, “gave the Shoemaker Cremains entrance to a world that it is
Prof. B.Cox on  BBC's Mastermind.
Special Subject: The bleedin' obvious...
impossible to imagine, let alone put into words.” Indeed, it is a remarkable illustration of the manner in which feminist ideas are grown at CERN, that this opinion, which a few years before would have been regarded as the most extravagant of paradoxes, was at this time independently promulgated by some of the most senior females at the highest level of science. All the more so since feminists can also be remarkably intransigent when it comes to protecting their theories and results against outside scrutiny.  I mention this because on the last day of the meeting we drew real blood. The leaked 12-point manifesto presented on this day was clearly intended to warn that "The Shoemaker Cremains" could suddenly become unstable, causing a ‘catastrophic vacuum decay’ that would cause time and space to collapse.” It was the worst news I could possibly have heard, more particularly so, since  “this could happen at any time and we wouldn’t see it coming”.[4]  Indeed, if  I understand the argument correctly (which is far from certain), it could not be ruled out that the ionised cremains would ripple backward  in space-
time and affect the symmetry of the Universe at the very point of its original creation. Which wouldn’t  so much alter what had occurred at the Big Bang; but reconstitute what could have occurred in the first place. This might seem like a subtle distinction, but is really one of the key points of difference between some  sort of backdated alignment with the initial conditions of the Universe, and the classic paradox of time. Which is to say, a type of quantum-mechanical version of the back-to-the-future technique whereby you interfere with yourself by way of a grandparent in order to change, retroactively, the universe in which you live...

Eugene Merle Shoemaker RIP

[1] Her mandate began on 1 January 2016 and runs for a period of five years.
[2] Not surprisingly, Ms Porco resists the idea that she should have favoured the dispatch of the Shoemaker cremains  for reasons of feminist umbrage. 
[3] The various merits involved in the ongoing dispute over the whereabouts of the Shoemaker Cremains, in my own view, could conceivably be checked against a reference  system of recorded visual observations.
[4] Stephen Hawkins

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