Dr Julian Cook's science laboratory

Friday 29th April 2011 – An emotional day for all the researchers at the Institute and it was not without some tears that we watched events unfold.

The stunning design had been intricate and painstaking – our very own Dr Caruso had laboured over a simply gorgeous pair of glue-on flange clamps, which were added at the last minute and would prove invaluable during the mounting.

So we were understandably crushed when, instead of watching the $2 billion creation blast off into the night on the back of Space Shuttle Endeavour, we were told the whole event had been cancelled because of a knackered switchbox.

Many of you will not feel this pain as acutely as we do because you are thinking ‘Why do we need to send the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer into space when we already have Cern’s multimillion dollar particle detector here on earth?’. Well, the answer is simple, especially if you have seen the 1989 biopic, Shirley Valentine.

Shirley Valentine had to escape her boring Liverpudlian life and fly to Greece in order to get things straight in her head. Particle detectors also have to jet off if they want to see things properly, but instead of Greece, they go to space. There were several important lessons Shirley had to learn about the mysteries of the universe but before she learned anything, she had to dock with Tom Conti.  Now, if you can imagine Tom Conti is the International Space Station, you have pretty much grasped everything there is to know about Endeavour’s mission. If it helps, you can pretend the Androgynous Peripheral Attach System is his moustache. It’s not difficult – and I can personally recommend this as a mnemonic should you ever find yourself taking an exam in astronautical engineering.

Liverpool is just like the protective atmosphere of planet earth: to many, it provides a flimsy means of stability and security – but the really complicated aspects of reality just do not get through. Its presence obstructs proper scientific investigation and we could even say it is thwarting the advancement of our species in that regard. But we cannot destroy Liverpool: that would be highly risky. So we follow in Shirley’s footsteps and put as much distance between ourselves and Liverpool as possible. Only then do we really get to know about mysterious dark matter. Dark matter can be found in abundance around the Greek coastline, but even more of it exists in space and, if we are as lucky as Shirley, we will get a good look at all the secret bits which have been teasing us from under Tom Conti’s apron.

Sometimes, all it takes to reach that eureka moment is a fortnight on the Greek isles and one or two boat trips with a member of the service industry. However, the Institute’s funding department have no sense of adventure and their tightfistedness is probably the reason why, to date, I have not been able to prove or disprove the predictions of a unified field theory.

Dr Julian Cook is a senior research fellow at the Institute for Studies



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AV opponents face Daily Mail dilemma

MILLIONS of decent, honest Britons today face the troubling prospect of being on the same side of an argument as the Daily Mail.

Across the country people who have a principled opposition to voting reform wept into their toast after realising that on some level their brain was in tune with the brain of Paul Dacre.

Martin Bishop, from Stevenage, said: “I like first past the post because it makes it easier to kick out bad governments. Now, however I am forced to assume it must be pure… fucking… evil.

“I guess Britain under AV will somehow make carefully worded racism, sneering misogyny and nauseatingly immoral scare mongering more difficult or less profitable.”

Emma Bradford, from Finsbury Park, said she was worried AV would give greater influence to extremists but could not understand why this would be a problem in any way whatsoever for the Daily Mail.

She added: “Maybe Dacre is actually trying to get me to vote for AV in a way that does not involve him having to publicly agree with people he thinks are communist child molesters.

“The old double blufferoo. He’s a wily fox, that one.”

But Jane Thompson, from Peterborough, said: “If AV meant more power for the BNP then Dacre would hate that because then Britain would be the way he wanted it rather than the way it is, which currently makes him an awful lot of money.”

She added: “I just feel that voting reform is not the priority right now and that instead we should focus on having more MPs who aren’t, you know, fuckers.”

Bill McKay, from Stevenage, said: “I think the simplest thing from my point of view is to vote against AV and then kill myself.

“It keeps everything nice and neat and I won’t have look in the mirror and see my pathetic, shitty, Daily Mail-agreeing-with face.