(PNS reporting from PUERTO RICO) With construction and testing officially completed on the Large Piña Collider (LAPICO), scientists here are ready to begin their high-tech search for the elusive sub-atomic particle that powers the popular cocktail.
LAPICO is a tunnel 25km (15.5 miles) in circumference in the western half of the island, southeast of San Sebastian (satellite photo, above.) Its ring of ice-cooled vacuum pipes are capable of accelerating a stream of maraschino cherries up to 99% of the speed of light (SOL.)
Once the cherries are launched and precision measuring devices determine they are virtually SOL they are fired into a solid pineapple wedge suspended in a large tank of white rum in a state of Marreri-Cofresí equilibrium. The scattered fragments of the collision are measured by a network of repurposed breathalyzer devices and then plotted by computer.
Scientists hope that the Large Piña Collider will be able to find evidence of the elusive Jugos Boson, the so-called Cream Particle which gives all coconut products their silky mouth-feel.
“This is really an unprecedented scientific experiment,” project jefe Junior Wences, Ph.D., told a Monday afternoon press conference in his office at the Carmen Miranda Boom Boom Room at the San Juan Hilton. “We have many theories of how thin, watery coconut milk becomes creamy. If this experiment succeeds, we will finally confirm them. Or not.”
“I’m not much into health food,” he added. “I am into champagne.”
Neighbors in San Sebastian say the influx of scientists has helped the local economy.
“Piñas are in season! Hooray!” said David Villaraigosa, owner of Madama Mariposa Salon in suburban Rancho San Sebastian. “I’m totally absorbent and porous!”
Not everyone is happy with the project.
“I have read that during the experiment, scientists will be up to 250,000 times more inebriated than a hardcore drinker in the sun,” complained local gandules farmer Luis Rodríguez. “This is not a good reason to dig up my land and disturb my crops. How do we know it is safe? We could all be sucked into an alcoholic black hole, never to emerge. It’s a big cocktail-up waiting to happen.”
Scientists have repeatedly stated that the chances of a large-scale disaster are remote, but there have been minor glitches.
Last last week, computers recorded a pineapple chunk moving faster than the speed of light; additional testing determined a drunk scientist had spilled Bacardi on his keyboard, causing a “false positive.”
Father Don Pescado of San Sebastian Parish prefers a take-it-slow approach:
People are worried. I’m not one to stand in the way of science, but perhaps a more cautious virgin approach would be wiser. No matter how you garnish it, right now it’s a rum kind of project.
Anticipating opposition, LAPICO is readying an ad campaign featuring singer Barry Manilow performing a song about quantum fluid dynamics.
Mathew has more to say back at his place.