Observations from a Geneva Barstool

by strannikov

He damned sure wasn't drinking Leberkleister, I saw to that, I kept plying him with frozen vodka. I didn't even try to catch his name, some East European nominative I'd've mangled had I tried to say it anyway. All I know is he had, until recently, been employed with CERN.

“They'll never release the Planck data now,” caught my ear.


“The all-sky CMB data. The local velocity is much higher than the Wilkinson probe suggested.”


“The Planck anisotropy probe. Kashlinsky only had the Wilkinson five-year data to work with. I've seen the all-sky Planck data: Kashlinsky underestimated the Local Group velocity . . . rather stupendously,” he punctuated with a burp. “He won't even have time now to publish his analysis of the new data.”


“Well, you know what that means,” he muttered after tossing down his fourth shot in fifteen minutes. “Those boys with the Large Hadron Collider are gonna wish they HAD some superluminal neutrinos at their command, it's the only thing that could save us now.”

“What're you talking about?”

“Look! The Alpha Concentration for the moment is a remote gravitational anomaly. Doesn't matter how distant it is: all quantum oscillations and fluctuations and perturbations for five billion light years in every direction are already being impinged upon! Some ranges of oscillation and fluctuation are narrowing: some ranges of oscillation and fluctuation are spreading apart. The local compressions and expansions are themselves already highly unstable, though. Forget the measurement problem!”

“It's not stopping you from getting sloshed.”

“Hell, that must mean vodka attracts superluminal neutrinos! Give me another.” I and the barkeeper complied. Stolichnaya, what else, frozen.

“Look,” he tried to explain with his hands. “Astronomers talk about black holes as gravitational stabilizers within galaxies, you know?” I'd heard something vague to that effect, so I nodded agreement. “Well,” he continued, “the Alpha Concentration—the entire mass collected in the Norma Cluster, the still-invisible Great Attractor, and the highly visible Shapley Supercluster—is a cosmic black hole, you don't realize how much mass the Planck probe has detected. Huh! Kashlinsky's hypothesis put our velocity at only a thousand kilometers a second, tops! At NO MORE THAN a thousand! HAH! ONLY A THOUSAND! Give me another one.” The bottle in the fridge under the bar was about to be drained, I could see in the mirror that another two were safely housed there, one might yet have my name on it, and he'd never get to the end of the other one the way he was going.

“The velocity's only increasing. Hell, we'll be there by next Christmas. And the thing is: we've been in its grip the entire time! Even since the anomalocaridids and the trilobites! Forget the daubed walls of your Chauvet Cave and your stinking Antikythera Mechanism! We've been being swallowed by the Universe itself, being defecated or vomited from it, for almost half the planet's existence. Whoa!” He was sliding dangerously off his bar stool, I had to slow down the vodka if possible.

“Hell, they'll wish they had a beam of superluminal neutrinos to aim at it, that's the only thing that could POSSIBLY keep us out of it now. One more, then I'm going home.” Reluctantly, I nodded to the barkeep.

“And you say they're not releasing the Planck data because it will show unambiguously that everything within five billion light years is sliding out of the known universe bound for parts entirely unknown?”

“Yup, that's what I'm saying.”

“But you weren't involved with the Planck project, you worked on the ATLAS Collaboration.”

Last toss down. “Word gets around,” he slowly tested his legs, wiping his mouth. “They told all of us to just shut up about the neutrinos, they don't want everyone to know it's impossible now to manipulate superluminal neutrinos, given the nature of the quantum oscillations and fluctuations caused locally by the pull of the Alpha Concentration. And superluminal neutrinos are the only things that could have been used to repel the gravitational anomaly of the Alpha Concentration. Did I tell you how much mass we're talking about?”

“Yeh, you mentioned that, earlier.”

“And the velocities are only increasing, closer we get. Hell, I want to sleep through the whole damned thing. Give me a bottle to go.” What could I say, the clock was about to strike.