Post Office News We'll Never Hear

Somehow I doubt we’ll ever see anything like this on the evening news.

News Anchor: Good evening, I’m Greg Daniel and this is Evening News Tonight. Today’s big news story comes from Long Island, New York where physicists at the Brookhaven National Laboratory have stunned the international physics community by creating neutronium in their relativistic heavy collider. For breaking details, we take you to our On the Spot Witness News science reporter, Candace Barr. Candace?

Candace: Hello Greg. I’m standing outside the Brookhaven National Laboratory. With me this evening is Doctor Edith Von Secondberg. Doctor Secondberg, thank you for joining me this evening. Can you please explain to our audience what neutronium is?

Dr. Secondberg: Good evening Candace. Well, simply put, neutronium is the densest form of matter possible in our universe. It usually forms under circumstances of extreme gravity when a star collapses and all the electrons, protons and neutrons are forced together.

Candace: (laughing) But you didn’t collapse a star, did you?

Dr. Secondberg: (also laughing) No, no. What we did was to accelerate a collection of atoms to 20 percent of the speed of light and then cause them to smash into one another. This collision caused them to come together with a force similar to that in a collapsing star, allowing them to form the super dense material we call neutronium.

Candace: When you say this material is “super dense,” can you give us some idea what you mean?

Dr. Secondberg: Well, if you were to picture a block of steel a foot on each side, that would probably weigh several hundred pounds, right? Neutronium is so dense that a mere thimbleful would weigh more than Mount Everest.

Candace: A mountain! You didn’t use a mountain for your experiment, did you?

Dr. Secondberg: (laughing again) Oh no. All told the piece of neutronium we produced is only the size of a grain of sand. I doubt it weighs more than 20 or 30 tons.

Candace: I see. And where is the neutronium right now?

Dr. Secondberg: Oh, we shipped it out to California about half an hour ago so our colleagues at Berkeley can verify that we’ve created what we think we’ve created. You probably saw the truck leaving as your news crew was setting up.

Candace: No, we must have missed it. The only truck we’ve seen since we arrived was the mail truck.

Dr. Secondberg: No that was it all right.

Candace: (puzzled) A mail truck? But you said it weighed 20 or 30 tons. Wouldn’t that require some sort of special equipment to move?

Dr. Secondberg: Not at all. People think scientists have no concept of economy, and I suppose it’s true that some of our colleagues can be spendthrifts at times. But no, we just sent it out through the mail. All told, it cost less than $10.

Candace: How is that even possible?

Dr. Secondberg: Oh, it was easy. My lab assistant Carl had a flat-rate envelope that he’d picked up a few weeks ago. The post office will deliver anything you can fit into one those envelopes to any address in the US for a very reasonable rate, no matter how heavy it is. And this was only the size of a grain of sand.