The Hitchhikers Guide To The Faculty: The Synchrotron

Good evening, morning or mid-afternoon, ladies and lads. Welcome to the exciting finale to my travel adventures. Pull up a pew, makes your  delightful selves at home, and we shall embark on a glorious journey… to the AUSTRALIAN SYNCHROTRON.

I board the tour bus departing from Alexander Theatre, receiving my name tag, a free canned beverage, a pencil and brochures written in some horrendous native tongue. My travelling companions promptly fall asleep. The tour guide is unscathed. She describes the view on the right side of the bus. A man leans over and asks blankly, “Is that woman going to talk the whole trip?” The tour guide, who has clearly heard, tugs up her white gloves, points to a hill on the left side of the bus and says, “A beautiful mountain can be seen on the left side of the bus.” There are, however, brief pauses in the tour guide’s chatter for bathroom breaks and three mini-films about synchrotrons. From the films I learn about condenser tube leaks and turbine shaft vibration. Pie charts are used. Eventually we break for lunch, which, as promised, is free.

We arrive at the synchrotron, where we receive a pair of 3-D glasses. A large screen greets us as we enter through the main hall. A movie entitled ‘A Flying Tour of the Australian Synchrotron’ features a talking 3-D kangaroo and shots of the staff members engaging in some sort of ritual around the ring. It looks quite occult. I keep my glasses on for the tour, and pay rapt attention as we are taught how to get into a yellow anti-contamination suit.

Not twenty minutes have passed before an alarm is sounded, and several scientists begin exiting the main chamber in quite a hurry. Ignoring the panicking of my fellow travellers, I immediately sprint for the nearest anti-contamination suit. The guide is clearly hysterical, shouting such madness as “Stop fooling around!” and “Stop trying to get into that suit!” I dismiss her insanity for the good of the group, and manage to fit my considerable girth into the suit.

What I see as I put on the helmet will stay with me for the rest of my life: an enormous creature, disguised as a fireman, attacking me! We grapple, but my legs give way. The next thing I know, I have been stripped of my suit and left lying on the grass outside the building. Police officers, who have rushed to the scene, offer me no assistance whatsoever, no matter how much detail I gave them of my attacker. I am most offended.

That is where my tale ends, my friends. I hope you will join us next time, for more exciting and wonderful tales of my most exciting life.

– T.C.S.N., Phd. OBE. B.A.

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