(© 2009 Quentin Bristow)

[An account of a fictional session of the American Congress, dealing with science R&D funding]

The United States Congressional debate over the multi-billion dollar funding package for the new fundamental physics research facilities, had degenerated into yet another partisan stalemate. The core of the problem was the differences over how the funding should be divided between the main objectives of the proposed investigations. These were the Big-Bang theory; the so-called String theory; the Inflation of the Universe theory; the Dark-Energy and Dark-Matter theories and the search for the Higgs Boson, the so-called ‘God Particle’.

There were letters to the newspapers suggesting that members of Congress should not be making decisions and voting on matters about which they didn’t have the slightest clue. Others responded by saying that not only had that never stopped them before, but that it happened about ninety percent of the time anyway.

It was none other than former Vice President Dick Cheney who made no secret of his whole-hearted support for the Big-Bang theory, claiming that the United States should move quickly to claim ownership, because it would ‘Keep America Safe’. When it was pointed out that the name for the theory was coined by British astronomer Fred Hoyle, former president George. W. Bush came to the aid of his number-two by bringing his encyclopaedic knowledge of geopolitical history to bear on the problem. He argued that the statement was made while Britain was still a colony of the United States, which meant that Sir Fred Hoyle would have been an American citizen at the time. When the Democrats poured scorn on his historical revisionism, he retorted that if Britain hadn’t been a colony of the United States, then why were so many towns and cities in England named after famous ones in the United States.

When it came to the String theory, the Republicans turned thumbs down on the whole notion, arguing that their constituents would want absolutely nothing to do with any theory which had strings attached, and which therefore smacked of big government. There was however a surprising unanimity when both parties rejected out of hand any theory that was in any way inflationary. The partisan rivalry resumed over the questions of the Dark-Energy and Dark-Matter theories. The Democrats argued that there was already too much dark energy from the burning of black coal in electricity generating stations, while the Republicans maintained that America needed more energy no matter what colour it was, but it would likely be more clean if it wasn’t too dark. The question of Dark Matter produced such complete bafflement that it was referred to a committee for further investigation.

The Higgs Boson once again provoked strongly held positions. The Republicans immediately latched on to the ‘God Particle’ reference as clear evidence of Intelligent Design and enthusiastically endorsed the idea of funding Mr. Higgs in his quest for the mysterious Boson. When at a press conference, a Republican Congressman was asked what exactly a Boson was, he replied that it was top secret and could not be discussed in public.