Fermilab’s iconic statue at the Pine Street entrance, “Broken Symmetry,” was vandalized on Thursday night by a self-described “anonymous theoretical physicist collective.”
The incident was reported by a Fermilab security guard, who claims that the vandals put him into a sleep-like trance by going over the finer points of pseudo-Nambu-Goldstone bosons.
After hypnotizing the guard, the vandals apparently arc-welded the three disjointed segments of “Broken Symmetry” to realign them into symmetry.
The vandals left behind a 53-page manuscript, a USB drive with a file labeled ‘finalpowerpoint.v5.8-draft,’ a glossy 36-inch-by-42-inch poster and an accompanying letter marked with a request for submission to Physical Review Letters. In their materials, the vandals announced their intent to “repair” “Broken Symmetry.” Forensic experts and peer reviewers are currently investigating the identity and academic merit of the vandals.
“In this paper we show that spontaneous symmetry breaking in gauge symmetries such as SU(2) x U(1) associated with the electroweak force is the result of errors resulting from a ketchup stain on the Philip Anderson’s landmark 1962 paper ,” the vandals wrote.
According to several prominent theoretical physicists, such a mistake would have profound implications for all of particle physics.
“I mean it’s totally ridiculous. All of modern particle physics rests on the foundations of the Standard Model and its Lagrangians, so there’s no way this is correct,” said a physicist who requested anonymity for her critique of the vandals. “If you ask me, it was probably a group of string theorists up to no good.”
In their manuscript, the vandals allege that through a series of carried over mistakes, crucial Lagrangians have been given the wrong sign.
“It is not clear from whence this congenital ketchup stain arose, but its effects have been felt throughout the field of physics,” the vandals wrote. “For example, the famous ‘Mexican hat’ potential term V(f) = -10|f|2 + 10|f|4 should actually be V(f) = +10|f|2 + 10|f|4, which is not very hat-like at all. Fig. .”
When asked about the vandals’ claims, Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg said, “Oh, consarn it,” and ran off to check his notes for sign errors.
The identity of the vandals remains a mystery, and there appear to be few clues as to who they could be.
“Their PowerPoint presentation was full of dense text and had almost 50 backup slides,” said Detective Bo Son. “In other words, it could be just about anyone.”
If you have any tips about the identity of the vandals, please contact the police. Or Chris Quigg.