Somebody I speak to at length on a regular if not particularly frequent basis, and whose thoughts I greatly respect—not least because they are more abstract than any other thoughts I hear routinely expressed—plays through the possibility apparently inherent in a Large Hadron Collider, such as the one operated by CERN near Geneva, of accidentally causing a mini black hole and thus precipitating and essentially causing the End of the World.
Instinctively, I consider the likelihood of this happening minute, but she holds my gaze a little longer than I expect, and I read from this that to her mind—and this is one of the finest minds, certainly in theoretical matters, I have ever come across—the probability is not so remote as to be dismissed lightly, let alone completely.
In a philosophical sense you could argue, and I possibly would, that no probability is so remote as to ever be altogether dismissed, whether lightly or not, but I’m a little startled that of all the people in the world she should contemplate this particular portent so earnestly.
I forget—as I do most things—our conversation momentarily, but then it keeps nudging its way back into my thoughts where, far from frightening or even greatly disturbing me, it fills me with a curiously warm feeling of comfort: If the world were to end, I seem to feel (rather than think, because thinking this would to my mind in turn seem counterintuitive and quite irrational), then, no matter how likely or unlikely that may be, the idea of the world ending by a picturesque lakeside near Geneva strikes me as strangely appropriate and disarmingly ironic. And, I should say, because of this alone more probable (if, at this diminutive level of probability, that is still the right word) than almost anywhere else…