Vol. 8, Issue 2, April 27, 2010
Large Hadron Collider Strikes Deal with Unilever to Make "Foods of the Future"
In a bid to fund the enormously expensive Large Hadron Collider, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) has announced that it has reached an agreement with Anglo-Dutch corporation Unilever to use the facility to manufacture selected foodstuffs.
"We have been trying for decades to take the science of food creation to the next level," said Unilever Group Chief Executive Paul Polman. "But there are limits to what you can do without a subatomic particle accelerator, even for us."
Unilever owns dozens of international brands ranging from Lipton to Ben and Jerry's to Skippy. According to the press release, it plans to turn the Hadron Collider on each of its food products in turn to "see what happens."
"Sometimes you just have to experiment," said Polman. "It's no different than someone fiddling around in their own kitchen, adding a little of this and a little of that. Except for the fact that we're using a 7 trillion electronvolt particle beam instead of a cuisinart."
Many members of the scientific community are deeply ambivalent about the announcement.
"The Collider was built with the intention of testing various predictions of high-energy physics," said Raoul Grossbouc, a physics professor at the Université de Lyons. "There is already a public perception that the device poses a threat to the world. Tossing some bouillon cubes or Klondike bars into the device does not seem like a way to reassure people."
Apparently the first products to come out of the agreement will be a range of six quirky ice cream flavors from Ben and Jerry's: Up, Down, Charm, Strange, Top, and Bottom.
"The Up flavor is just loaded with espresso beans, carefully roasted in the Collider," said Polman. "The Down flavor has, well, let's just say it's very relaxing. And people will really like the Charm and Strange flavors. They're quite unique."
"What on earth goes into the 'Bottom' flavor?' asked Grossbouc with a frown. "Creating new ice cream flavors is not so elementary as all this. No matter how they spin this, I don't see a strong interaction with the general public."
There is also concern that the Collider itself will be difficult to clean if Unilever keeps dumping everything from spaghetti sauce to Slim-Fast products in the device.
"Do you think I want to spend years of my life interpreting images of particle collisions from the Collider, only to find out later that what I thought was a Higgs boson particle was actually a spot of mayonnaise on the damn detector?" fumed Grossbouc.
"Hey - that's science in the real world," said CERN Director General Rolf Heuer. "Everything's relative. You've just got to focus on the general relativity of it all."