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Particles attempt lab takeover

Tevatron particles stage coup.

Tevatron particles stage coup.

Fermilab temporarily halted Tevatron operations early on Tuesday morning when a batch of particles broke free from the accelerator and staged a coup at the laboratory.

The head of Fermilab security, Bill Flaherty, said in a statement that investigators are still uncertain how the particles escaped. One possibility under investigation is that a group of neutrinos passed by security cameras undetected.

Researchers first became aware of the problem at around 8 a.m. when they discovered insulting messages spelled out in their event displays. Soon after, particles disappeared from the Tevatron.

At around 8:30 a.m., the rebels' leader entered Director Pier Oddone's office and began typing what investigators identified as a Director's Corner column, titled "'God' Particle Discovered: Humans Surrender."

Escaped particles seized control of the Remote Operations Center and attempted to contact compatriots in the Large Hadron Collider. Fortunately for CERN, the only particles present were a group of passing cosmic rays.

Other escapees were seen shooting pool in the Users' Center, chasing geese, and taking turns riding the Fermilab bison. Several witnesses spotted what appeared to be an undiscovered type of particle breaking into vending machines in Wilson Hall. Researchers from CDF and DZero disagree about who saw it first.

Scientists said that it was unlikely the particles involved in the incident had acted alone.

"When I got into trouble as a kid, it was usually my older brother's fault," one theoretical physicist said. "I find this to be a clear indication of Supersymmetry."

The rebellion did not last long. At around 2 p.m., guards found a large group of smaller particles in the Fermilab cafeteria. Officers said the particles seemed low on energy and voluntarily surrendered.

This article first appeared in Fermilab Today on April 1, 2009.