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Mass Production, by Hedge-sparrow

Posted by shirleycurran on 28 January 2011


CERN's LEP seen from the front window.

Circular! Great, that must be the first circular since the very first Listener puzzle the numpties attempted, Frank’s ‘Rings’, way back in 2008. Then I read the preamble about ‘alternative’ indications, ‘clockwise or anticlockwise’ two entries in each set of four JUMBLED – those ‘all but one’ having an extra letter, and the circled letters being ‘constituents’ of a final product.  Perhaps this is a sign from above that it is time to bring the numpty solving career to a close. In despair, I gaze out of the window at CERN’s LHC that half fills the view between the bottom of the garden and Mt Blanc even in this dull weather. I muse about those particles zinging their way clockwise and anti-clockwise three hundred feet down and that elusive Higgs Boson. That’s the boson that is responsible for ‘mass’, according to current particle theory. Production of mass – Mass Production. Wait a minute! Could it be …?

That preamble was daunting but the clues are very fair. I’ve heard of setters who work in clue order from 1 across to 40 down but I wonder how many solvers impose that discipline on themselves as an added challenge. RENAME, AMYLENE, BEFOAMS, EMBRYO … It worked for a while, but gentle clues all the way round the rings were appearing and tempting us; ‘Inattentive sailor transported’ (ABSENT ), ‘Pigeon’s poor, poor imitator’ (EPIGON), ‘Land vehicle’ (ESTATE), ‘Edmund’s hooked finger placing explosive around Alabama’ (TALANT).

Yes! PROTON BEAM/PROTON BEAM appeared, heading in two directions. This was inspired! We began, appropriately, to hunt for particles and, equally appropriately, found them heading in opposite directions, an ELECTRON heading clockwise and an ANTI-ELECTRON anti-clockwise (that was the way it was in LEP, the previous machine). Sure enough, the GLUON, KAON and MUON were there (and, even in this scientific environment, Hedge-sparrow didn’t disappoint, there was the obligatory oenophile touch to get the GLUON, he ‘knocked back drink containing essence of plum’).

Suspecting that we were going to find LARGE HADRON COLLIDER in those extra letters produced by nineteen of the jumbles was a great help. I can imagine that this step of resolving the jumbles was slightly more difficult for solvers who are not, like us, actually more or less sitting on top of the thing and gazing at it daily. Still, we had a bit of a problem with ‘Stirling’s one striving to get Walter’s friend into public relations’ from EPILGRN. We guessed at ‘Gilpern’ and ‘Pengril’ (some sort of lady penguin?) before hitting on one that Chambers liked, PINGLER. (But it didn’t really matter did it? The letters were confirmed when we had extracted our HIGGS BOSON from the little circles and written it in the centre.)

CERN has to go around the outside edge and ‘Laboratory’ and ‘Particle Physics’ are already evident, so clearly Hedge-sparrow must be using the name that is commonly given to the Organisation Européenne pour la Recherche Nucléaire (European Organization for Nuclear Research) EUROPEAN LABORATORY FOR PARTICLE PHYSICS. We complete our outer circle and find that four letters are left for CERN, neatly at the bottom. Perhaps that explains the unusual symmetry of the circles where No. 1 is offset at the top.

I thought this was a lovely puzzle. Just the encouragement I needed to keep going. Many thanks, Hedge-sparrow.

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