Or two simultaneous pathways, to be precise.
And that is because the insight gained by physicists at CERN – who began to think about the question while vaping behind the Large Hadron Collider during their coffee breaks – is that e-cigarettes may, uniquely among familiar everyday objects, be subject to the laws of quantum physics rather than the more conventional Newtonian model.
As Keanu Bates, a CERN research fellow, explains: “It came to us at the very beginning of last April after a particularly long session with a new roast-beef-and-carrot-baby-food-flavoured e-liquid – I think it was called Buckin’ Bronco.
“There has been so much debate about whether e-cigarettes are tobacco products or not. But we suddenly saw that quantum theory gives us the answer easily: an e-cigarette is both a tobacco product and simultaneously not a tobacco product, until you examine it.
“It’s the act of looking closely at e-cigs that raises the problem. So if you just don’t think too much about them, it’s all cool. Take good note, FDA men!”
However, despite their new understanding, the CERN team remain divided on crucial details. “Does the universe split into two versions every time you fire up a cigalike?” asked Bates. “We’re not sure. Some of us think so, others of us think it’s not just Buckin’ Bronco they’ve been vaping. Heh.”
He added: “Did you get that flash of, like, multi-coloured light out the Collider just now? It was a hadron, I swear. So much purple, man. Orange too, orangey-purple, you had to see it. Spherical orangey-purple yellow, but kind of triangular at the same time, you know? An actual hadron. And so beautiful, it was just like everybody’s God and the universe all wrapped up into…”
Not all agree that the CERN findings are positive. Shortly after Bates’s departure from our interview accompanied by CERN security guards, we spoke to Dr. Aibreán Tosk, Interim Professor of Adjunct Studies at the University of St. Basil in Basel.
“It has become clear that e-cigarettes are even more dangerous than we previously thought,” said Dr. Tosk.
“We knew already that they emitted particles. It now appears that if they are part of the quantum universe, they will simultaneously emit waves.
“Susceptible teenagers will start off experimenting with particles then get hooked on waves. Or maybe it’s the other way round. Either way, it’s terrible.
“More alarming still is the risk to innocent bystanders – especially small children dozing innocently in their buggies, tiny unblemished hands gripping cherished soft toys given by a loving parent or grandparent, doves cooing and lambs gambolling beneath a rainbow in the background, blissfully yet tragically unaware of the imminence of their own horrible, choking deaths and the extinction of all life on Earth in a noxious miasma of – of – of – where was I? oh yes – excuse me a moment…….wow, I see what they mean, it is kind of spherical and triangular at the same time…..and is that blue or yellow, it looks like both…..could I have another drag? This is very scientifically interesting.”
Awakening some hours later and sipping on Dorito-with-cream-cheese e-liquid, Dr. Tosk declined further comment, observing only that “if the universe splits into two with every puff, that’s a whole lot more research grants”.
– Dandie Dinmont ECigIntelligence western Switzerland physical sciences editor
Photo: Javier Carcamo