Formula One Racing Meets Quantum Relativity
or; Welcome to CERN- Fastest High-Speed Oval in the World
Article is written by and copyright (c) 1999 Jeff Rose,
by Jeff Rose
Well, we're back and boy are the Quantum Physicists happy about that. With no
races scheduled, the BayWatch All-Girl Pit Crew went to Switzerland for
testing. Rumor had it the fastest oval track in the world was at someplace
called CERN. This place the pit crew had to see.
The crew showed up early morning at the CERN high-speed oval course.
Following the directions they found no race course; only a large parking lot.
The crew was usually on top of things. And, funny, that's what the people
from CERN said when they asked: "You are right on top of things." But no
problem here, the parking lot had some good corners and would do just fine for
the tests. Later the crew would find out about the true, and underground,
nature of the CERN high-speed nuclear particle ring.
Leafing through the "It's A Small World" pamphlet, available free at the gift
shop, the girls realized that high-energy physics might be the next trend in
F1 testing. Formula One cars were becoming increasingly high-tech. It was
time to check for the appearance of Quantum Effects at the race track.
Knowing nothing about particle physics didn't slow down the crew, because they
don't know a heckuva lot about racing either.
For the test they parked a photon, a proton, Michael Schumacher, Damon Hill, a
meatball and Ricardo Rosset on the back of the grid. The photon was there to
catch anyone who exceeded the speed of light. The meatball was also added as
a control, a non-moving object that would mark the back of the grid.
Schumacher we saw at Suzuka. There, starting from the back row, he passed
four cars in the 4.2 seconds between the back of the grid and the start line.
Passing four cars before the Start Line meant Schumacher effectively started
the race from 18th position; although he also started from 22nd. Being in two
places at once is a quantum effect so Schumacher got the rest of the afternoon
Damon was also timed from the back of the grid, and he also did it in 4.2
seconds. While doing so, he steered into the pits a bit and nicked
Schumacher's car on the way through. This demonstrated the same quantum
effects (and bragging rights.) He also got the rest of the afternoon off.
The proton took off from the back of the grid like it was shot out of a
particle accelerator. In fact it was shot out of a particle accelerator. It
went past the Start/Finish line hot on the heels of the photon. It didn't
make the first corner, going straight into the guardrail on the outside of the
turn. The explosion of quarks, sparks and quantum effects showered the track
with debris and caused a yellow flag. Jackie Stewart has been informed of
this safety problem; and some high-speed ovals, such as CERN, may be shut down
Checking on Rosset found him still at the back of the grid. His reflexes had
started to snap into gear; the signals were traveling through his highly-tuned
neural pathways, but apparently in no particular order. He sat there inert as
though the race had yet to start. It looked as though we could use the minute
hand to check his reaction time. The girls stepped over to his Pit Crew to
see what was going on.
Rosset's crew got up from their lounge chairs to explain that this was normal.
On some days he was so slow to get going that he would get to the Start/Finish
line just ahead of the cars completing the first lap. The scorekeepers would,
by mistake, record him as having completed a lap. In this way he had led
several races and now owned fastest lap at a couple of courses. The BayWatch
All-Girl Pit Crew figured that being both "dead last" and "running first" at
the same time is a quantum effect. They also figured he might be "mistaken
This leaves us with the meatball. There wasn't a lot going on with the
meatball sitting in the last row of the grid. Then Alex Zanardi came by, ate
it for lunch, and later complained of an upset stomach. What can we say
except "that's a spicy meat-a-ball." And being spicy, the meatball caused,
not a quantum effect, but a "Tum effect." This mention of the "Tum effect"
signals the end of the essay for Americans. Americans are familiar with
"Tums;" an antacid tablet taken for indigestion caused by "spicy meat-a-
For all you other English-Speaking Internet Folks reading this essay I must
explain that the most famous "indigestion" commercial was from twenty or so
years ago. It featured a large Italian fellow slumped over the remains of a
huge dinner. The fellow stared at the camera for a long time, looking most
uncomfortable. Then, holding his aching stomach, he leaned into the camera
and said, "that, was a spicy, meat-a-ball." For you non-English-Speaking
Internet Folks who are reading this, I am not going to try and explain it, for
Well, that's all for this week. Next week we will tackle what it was that
Heisenburg was so uncertain about.
Varoom Vroom-Vroom Squeal!!! Neeeeeyyyyyyoooowwwww! "Hey Everybody! Look!
There goes Rosset!"
His other Travel and Humour Articles
can be found at Aloha from the Nervous Nineties.