Tuesday, August 12, 2008

But What Does It Matter?

The Large Hadron Collider is getting close to being turned on - or whatever it is you do to it to get it to work... somehow 'turned on' seems a bit weedy.

Anyway, I seem to be hearing voices saying, "does it really matter?"

I must admit I have problems with this question. At the risk of being not PC and not tolerant of others' viewpoints and not willing to see the controversy and all that claptrap, my immediate response is, "well, of course it f***ing well matters! It's about where we come from, where the world comes from, where the bleeding universe comes from."

But I think I have missed something in the question. What this question really means is, "I don't know anything about this... I don't want to know anything about this... I am not even the slightest bit interested in this... and therefore I don't understand how anyone else could be interested in this so... does it matter?"

Hmmm... well, does anything matter in that case?

In one sense no, nothing matters. In just 100 years you and I will be dead as herrings but maybe someone will still vaguely know something about us. In 500 years we, our children and even our children's children will be herring-like.

In another sense though, personally, yes things most certainly do matter. I am a human and I can revel in the fact that things matter... they matter to me right now, I demand that things matter!

It happened that I had my guitar with me one day in the teachers' room of a language school where I used to teach. The other teachers wanted to hear me play something so I took out the guitar and started to tune it.

"Oh, what is it with these guitarists?" one teacher asked, "they always have to tune their guitars before they play something! What does it matter?"

(I should mention in her defence that she was Scottish and maybe having been brought up on bagpipe "music" the concept of being in tune was alien to her.)

"Of course it matters, of course you have to tune it... otherwise it sounds horrible"

"Ach, sounds alright to me!"

So I detuned the guitar seriously until even she had to admit that it didn't sound good.

"Right, so how it sounds to you now is equivalent to how it sounded to me before, ok?"

It mattered, it matters, it will matter...

Actually, come to think of it everything matters and as the Large Hadron Collider mght show us where matter came from, it matters too!


Jay said...

Ah, yes, the collider thingy! My older son was talking about this the other day and saying it was very exciting, but what worried him slightly was that the guys running the experiment were so cavalier about it. When asked is it safe, they apparently replied 'we don't really know'. ROFL!

Love the story about the guitar. Of course it matters. Things DO matter. I demand them to matter, too!!

Neutron said...

Oh well, if we all go up in smoke it's because we were curious and not because we were having a war with someone!