Particle physicists Ginny Wrasse, left, and Leah Shore inspect the sensor housing at the Blacktip Island Gravitational Laser Interferometer Detection array outside the CrabbiLab laboratory Thursday. Laboratory physicists claim to have discovered a subatomic particle capable of generating short-lived, localized gravitational fields. (Photo courtesy of Tila Monto)
In a paper published Thursday in the international science journal Creation, Blacktip Island scientists claim to have discovered a subatomic particle dubbed, ‘the Blacktip boson,’ that can create an extremely localized gravity well for a split second.
“People’ve noticed the phenomena for years,” lead author and particle physicist Barry Bottoms said. “Locals call them ‘gravity storms,’ where a person or object will fall for no apparent reason, with nearby objects not affected.
“You’d see it late Friday and Saturday nights, usually in bars, though, so it got passed off as alcohol induced,” Bottoms said. “Then we noticed it happening to tourists on bikes in the middle of the day, and that got us wondering.”
Bottoms and his colleagues at the Caribbean island’s Crabbilab Accelerator Laboratory built a device to isolate the phenomenon.
“We spring-boarded off Caltech’s gravity wave research to make an array to detect gravitational anomalies,” said article co-author Leah Shore. “It’s a small island with limited resources, but we were able to find some cement conduit, and we scrounged an old laser interferometer fom the dump.
“We’d barely activated the sensors when we got confirmation,” Shore said. “There was a massive gamma radiation spike, then – BAM! – Barry toppled over. With no alcohol involved – we tested his blood.”
The scientists were cautious in assessing the discovery’s importance.
“All we can say for certain is we detected a boson that, under the right conditions, can exert a massless spin-2 field – the Blacktip Field – to create micro-instants of increased gravity,” Bottoms said. “Could that blow the doors open on string theory? Sure. But we have more pressing concerns.
“What triggers the field and why is it so prevalent here?” Bottoms said. “Our theory is Blacktip Fields are the result of interplay between Blacktip’s unique combination solar radiation, booby pond fumes and the numerous ley lines crossing the island.”
Local reaction the discovery was less reserved.
“This tells the world Blacktip’s not such a backwater,” mayor Jack Cobia said. “Visitors joke about Blacktip being the island of sloppy drunks. Now, to find out it’s a sub-atomic whaddyacallit, well, Barry and his gang deserve a medal.”
Others echoed Cobia’s sentiment.
“Science-wise, it’s great to finally smack down St. Kitts and Nevis,” resident Antonio Fletcher said. “Those punks’ve been rubbing our noses in it ever since they found that wobble in Uranus’ orbit. Plus, my Daddy was a bosun’s mate, so I’m doubly proud.”
Other locals were eager to put the Blacktip Field to use.
“They keep saying there’s no practical application for this thing,” the former-Reverend Jerrod Ephesians said. “But how great would it be to harness it, to give extra mass to stuff that needs it? Like the mixed drinks at the Last Ballyhoo.”