Cosmic Debris is a free humor column including science fiction humor, family humor, observational humor, and other types of humor
along with a few serious and/or poignant thoughts by award-winning newspaper columnist Gary Greenberg.
by Gary Greenberg
Anti-matter, Cosmic Rays and Drunken Fruitflies
Courtesy of The Islander News, Key Biscayne' s award-winning newspaper
By the end of this column, you'll know how the Fantastic Four super heroes
got their powers and the best way to get a fruit fly drunk, but first another little
matter, or rather anti-matter...
In describing a recent space shuttle experiment to measure anti-matter, a
newspaper article states "if scientists are able to locate anti-matter particles, it
could help explain why researchers cannot find about 90 percent of the mass of the
Were you aware that 90 percent of the mass of the universe was missing in
I didn't. But now that I do, it explains what happened to all of those single
socks that disappeared in the wash, the contents of septic tanks that haven't been
pumped in decades and at least 90 percent of your tax money.
Apparently, the missing bulk of the universe is comprised of this non-
substance called "anti-matter." As we all know from watching Star Trek (where
anti-matter was first discovered), when matter and anti-matter converge, there is a
cataclysmic explosion which rocks the various Star Trek sets to the point of
collapse, causing a myriad of lights in the Enterprise flicker to on and off. It also
typically prompts an incredible display of overacting by William Shatner, a.k.a.,
Captain James T. Kirk.
As I recall, on at least one episode Spock theorized that the convergence of
even one particle of matter and anti-matter could annihilate the whole universe.
Of course, that is nothing more than moronic science fiction, except maybe
to the 18 billion Star Trek fans throughout the galaxy. Real 20th Century
researchers have determined that when anti-matter and matter converge, the anti-
matter alone is destroyed without a trace.
How they have determined this is a mystery since anti-matter doesn't seem
to have a trace to begin with. It can be neither seen, heard, smelled, tasted,
touched or marketed in any way, even by Disney. The space shuttle was going to try
to measure the anti-matter with magnets, but the ship strayed too close to the Mir
space station and caught a bad case of malfunctionistis.
I suppose the true story behind this matter, anti-matter business is that the
scientists all got together at their annual convention to determine how they were
going to get umpteen billion dollars in grants. They really needed something that
they could dump a whole lot of money into; something that they could be assured of
never finding the answer to but be able to make up enough information about to
assure renewal of those grants for perpetuity.
"What if we say that half of the universe is made up of something we're
unable to measure?" one asked. "Then we have to find some way to measure it."
Seemed good to the rest, except they figured it might sound more
threatening if 90 percent of the universe were comprised of this non-stuff. As we
all know, money flows more freely when there is an element of threat involved, like
with AIDS, asteroids or when Three-Finger Louie says, "If ya don't gimme that C-
note ya owe da boss, I'm gonna break your face."
I have my own theory. Anti-matter is exactly what it sounds like. Nothing. As
we all know, space is mostly made of nothing. Even when you account for stars,
planets, moons, comets, black holes, asteroids and hemorrhoids, the universe is still
probably 99.9999999 percent nothing, or anti-matter, as the scientists decided to
call it. This anti-matter is destroyed when it comes into contact with matter
because when something like Earth comes into contact with nothing, it becomes
nothing but Earth. The nothing that was occupying that spot in the universe, is now
something, thus the anti-matter was destroyed by the matter.
Speaking of nothing, there also apparently exists in the universe something
called cosmic rays. These are supposedly harmless high energy particles that,
according to another newspaper article, "zip through planets and even people,"
except maybe for Mike Tyson.
However, just this morning while watching "The Fantastic Four" on TV with
my son, it was explained that these supposedly harmless cosmic rays when combined
with some other space phenomenon were responsible for mutating these four
humans into a human torch, an elastic man, a guy who looks like a pile of rocks and a
woman who is also a mutant but I'm not sure in what way.
Though the same type of researchers who can't find 90 percent of the mass
of the universe say that these cosmic rays are harmless except in kiddie cartoons,
the article states: "...their passage is not noticeable, although some studies have
suggested that cosmic rays may break chromosomes and cause mutations."
Speaking of mutations, there is another article in the same paper about man's
favorite beast when it comes to creating mutations: fruit flies. San Francisco
researchers report that by fooling around with fruit fly chromosomes, they've
managed to find a "genetic defect" which makes fruit flies unable to hold their
Dubbing the defect "cheapdate," the researchers found that the affected
fruit flies needed 30 percent less alcohol consumption to become "hyperactive,
uncoordinated, disoriented and ultimately unconscious." Not reported was that the
scientists also observed how the genetically defective male fruit flies were more
apt to dance with the female fruit flies, who often have to dance with each other
because the non-defective males are too busy standing around talking about sports,
cars, female fruit flies and fruit.
In case you're wondering how scientists got fruit flies drunk when they'd
surely drown in even a teeny, tiny shot glass of Jose Cuevo, it was done with a
device called an "inebriometer," which is a four-foot high glass dome pumped full of
These scientists not only discovered the cheapdate gene, but also a drug to
control it. No doubt the whiskey and beer lobby is already gearing up for a campaign
to "enrich" milk with this anti-cheapdate drug so that there won't be any cheapdate
humans around getting drunk on one-third less of their products.
So once again we see how our quality of life is constantly being improved
through tireless efforts of the scientific community, even though they managed to
misplace 90 percent of the universe.
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