June 27, 2016

My black lab Mischief and I were sitting in the house on a hot Sunday afternoon enjoying the air conditioning. She was sipping a glass of white wine, while I was drinking a bottle of Gaelic Ale.

After taking a long, slow, sip of her wine, Mischief looked at me with sad eyes and said, “I really miss Smut.” Smut was my son’s old black lab who died two years ago at the age of 15. Until now, we had not talked about Smut. Mischief grieved for several weeks after Smut died, but the two of us never got around to discussing his death.

“I miss him, too,” I replied. “You and Smut were together all your life, so I can imagine that you miss him quite a lot.”

“He was like a big brother to me,” she said quietly.

We were silent for a while, then she said, “Smut taught me quite a bit, you know. How to enjoy your good Scotch whiskey, all about particle physics, and how to manipulate humans. Not that I would try to do that with you, of course.”

“I certainly hope not. I had enough of that from Smut.”

“But I am interested in particle physics. I was quite surprised when researchers at CERN LHC facility announced that they may have discovered a new particle. As it…”

“What’s that?” I asked. “I missed that news.”

“As I was saying,” she continued, looking slightly annoyed at my interruption. “as it turned out, the researchers at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland believe it was just a data anomaly. But it would have caused major rethinking in the particle physics world, since no such particle had been predicted by current models.”

I began to be a little suspicious where this conversation was leading. “Seems as if you did learn a bit from Smut.”

“Yes,” she smiled, sipping more wine and adopting a casual and relaxed position, with her front paws crossed, “and I think that since we both miss him, now would be a good time to honor his memory in some way.”

“Well, what is your suggestion?” I asked apprehensively, as an old feeling sweeping over me.

“We should go to CERN and visit the LHC,” she said resolutely.

“Now, look here, Smut–I mean, Mischief. We are not going to Switzerland. Get that out of your mind.”

“We don’t have to decide right now,” she stated calmly, but with a hint of foregone conclusion. “We can think about it a while. More ale?”