Did you hear the news from the physics research laboratory, CERN (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research), in Geneva, Switzerland, the other day? Physicists carrying out research at the "Large Hadron Collider" there reported that they were close to uncovering the mysteries surrounding the source of "dark matter" - a mysterious component of the universe whose presence is predicted by theoretical physics but which has, hitherto, been undetectable by experiment.
Don't worry - I am not about to take you into areas of study which baffle even those who understand what Einstein meant when he said that "space is curved". Space is curved, so what? Does that make it easier to understand how an equation that merely says "energy is mass squared by the speed of light", led to the creation of nuclear weapons that can destroy the world?
No, my interest in "dark matter" is very practical indeed. You see, we are told that all "matter" in the universe - including you and I - has its counterpart "dark matter". And if the two ever meet, they annihilate each other!
Eh? Yes! The idea that someone exactly like you in a parallel world is lurking in the ether somewhere, waiting to materialise and annihilate you, and you him - if ever scientific conditions allow you two to "meet" - is so disorientating that we must seal up in a bunker beneath the Swiss Alps, till kingdom come, the guys trying to pry dark matter out of a "collider".
I mean, why should visible matter and dark matter annihilate each other? Why not get your dark matter counterpart to walk hand in hand with you, exchanging anecdotes, instead? "Hey, do you remember ..." It should be such a nice experience to meet someone to whom you can't tell lies - because he is you. But no, these scientists want to bring out something that will make us both dead at first sight!
Hmmm - it isn't only on the minds of scientists that the annihilation of the universe is occupying valuable space at the moment. A "prophet" in America called Harold Camping, also caused a major stir when he predicted that the world was to come to an "end" on 21 May 2011.
Why camping's prophecy was given any credence at all is a mystery, for he is a serial apocalypse predictor who last foretold the day the world would end as "Sept. 6, 1994"! When nothing happened on that day, 17 years ago, he took refuge in the lamest excuse in the world: he said he had made a "mathematical miscalculation". This non-event was known...