What the Hell is Going on at CERN?

There’s no weirder technology-related story than whatever the hell is going on at CERN (the French acronym for Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire), Switzerland’s miles-wide underground sub-atomic particle collider which is ostensibly being used to discover how the universe formed.

There have been all kinds of maybe crazy conspiracy conversations about what CERN’s really doing — time travel? black hole creation? “Star Trek”-like transporter? — but nothing you could hang onto without being dismissed as a nutter until last week, when somebody posted a YouTube video of a mock human sacrifice ritual, complete with black robes and stabbed female victim dressed in white, on the central outdoor grounds at CERN, right in front to its huge statue of the Hindu god Shiva the Destroyer.

The video was quickly removed from YouTube, but people mirrored the video and the British tabloids started writing about it (though the American press has been dutifully silent, even though it would surely drive page views, like this column hopefully will), so YouTube began permitting people to post it again. You can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOqiorNCMFU

The video caused such a stir that a a spokesperson (never named in any account I’ve been able to find) has been forced to confirm the event actually did take place and was filmed on the CERN campus, but it was done as a joke by scientists and researchers at the facility without official knowledge or permission. It was just a group of super-intelligent people “taking their sense of humour too far,” CERN stated.

So taking the “joke” at face value and accepting CERN’s story, I still think it’s fair to ask….What the hell? Why are scientists replicating a human sacrifice on the grounds of one of science's most controversial and mysterious ongoing projects, in front of the Hindu god of destruction to boot? Who filmed this? Who are the participants? Who was the “victim”? What does this say about security at such a revolutionary scientific site?

Even if the most benign explanation of what happened at CERN is accepted, it still raises a slew of unsettling questions that deserve answering. This type of behavior could not be more the exact opposite of the type of constructive, healthy, humanist, forward-thinking type of technologist 7CTOs seeks to cultivate and evolve. Even as a joke, it’s sick, and the technology community and the world at large deserve better answers from CERN.