We are now rehearsing the next Rag Morris Mummers’ play, what I have wrote, entitled “The Big Bang”, which we are due to première at the Priddy Folk Festival on Sunday July 13th. We’re continuing our tradition of featuring local heroes from Bristol, following earlier mummers’ plays featuring both Vincent and Goram, and Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Our band of mummers are members of Rag Morris, a Morris Dance side that is also a University of Bristol Student’s Union Society. We include current and former University of Bristol students and postgraduates in the cast of this brand new play, which has in fact been inspired by one of the University’s greatest alumni. So watch out for Little Paul Dirac delivering a lecture about particle physics, a fight between Mister Matter and Auntie Anti-Matter, and Doctor Barry O’Genesis who arrives to save the day. In our view there is very little in life that cannot be improved by the addition of a morris dance; we hope to astound, educate and entertain in equal measure.
In Comes I, Little Paul Dirac, with all my formulae on my back
Paul Dirac was born in Bristol in 1902, and graduated from Bristol University twice, with a BSc in Electrical Engineering and a BA in Mathematics. He won a scholarship to study for a PhD in Cambridge where he carried out the work that earned him his reputation as a theoretical physicist of the highest order – describing an electron in a mathematically elegant equation that was compatible with both quantum physics and special relativity. The solution to this equation predicted the existence of a then-unknown atomic particle that was named the anti-electron, or positron, which was discovered experimentally a few years later and earned Dirac a Nobel Prize “for the discovery of new productive forms of atomic theory”. He was Britain’s answer to Einstein, but it has to be said, that he’s considerably less well known; a balance we are attempting to redress in our own small way with our little mummers’ play.
The tale before you shall be told of how the universe begun
Mummers’ plays are often justifiably accused of making little or no sense; a good vantage point, perhaps from which to survey a realm of quantum theory that few people can claim to understand. By using a format that is itself an invented pastiche of medieval mystery plays we attempt to shed a little light on a new creation mythology inspired by the unravelling of the sequence of events that took place in the first few seconds after the Universe was created. With limited success.
Come and have a go, if you think you’re hadron enough
At the heart of any traditional mummers’ play there is a conflict between two characters, one of whom falls and then rises again with the assistance of a mysterious doctor. In our new play the protagonists represent the symmetrical and opposite fundamental particles of matter and anti-matter. An equal amount of both was created in the seconds following the big bang and, all things continuing to be equal, all of this should have vanished; the matter and anti-matter cancelling each other out in a metaphorical puff of smoke, or a more literal burst of high energy gamma radiation photons. The fact that enough matter remained to form our present universe is a mystery that has stumped clever physicists for decades. This mystery may finally be solved if you are lucky enough to catch a performance of the latest Rag Morris Mummers’ play, “The Big Bang”.