The Mystery of the Time Machine in Stuyvesant’s Basement

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Issue 16, Volume 112

By Brandon Phillips 

During Stuyvesant’s “free love” years, it was decided that a bunch of sleep-deprived, coffee-addicted teenagers would build a machine that shoots charged particles at near-light speeds. I am, of course, referring to the Stuyvesant-based Cyclotron Committee’s attempt to build a particle accelerator. For those of you who aren’t science geeks or fans of “The Flash,” a particle accelerator is a machine that, in formal terms, shoots itty bitty wee things really fast to do cool science-y thingies. According to science, a particle accelerator is our best chance of building a time machine. At the time, the school was all boys, leading to ulterior motives behind building the accelerator: they hoped that the combination of boasting of such an accomplishment and being irradiated by dangerous particles would result in increased testosterone. Looking at Stuyvesant today, there is no evidence that their theory was correct.

In 1962, the Stuyvesant Indicator indicated that the particle accelerator, or the “Cyclotron,” was finished, but there are no other records of its completion. According to legend, one day before the Cyclotron’s final test, it disappeared. Mind you, this was a gigantic machine hidden in the old Stuyvesant building’s basement. Members of the Cyclotron Committee were devastated, given that this machine was their only gateway to a semi-existent social life. Without it, they reverted back to being awkward, socially-impaired scientific geniuses. There are a few possible explanations for this cruel heist.

Number one: After the Cyclotron’s first successful test, the Student Union’s upperclassmen got nervous. They were on their way to becoming lawyers and politicians! They couldn’t let the science kids do something actually cool for once! The Student Union used their unparalleled political power within the school to manipulate an army of freshmen to sneak into the basement and break the machine apart with their little grubby hands. At the end of the night, the SU could sleep quietly knowing that their glory was intact and that nothing would ever tarnish their integrity.

Number two: America was at the height of the Cold War, soon to be dealing with the Cuban Missile Crisis. Stuyvesant’s particle accelerator likely caused panic in Soviet high command. Kids were building powerful energy machines that could potentially be weaponized. One of the particle accelerator’s tests knocked out the power in a four-block radius. Soviet forces were deployed into the building and disassembled the machine piece by piece. That’s one explanation, but it’s no fun and extremely unrealistic. To keep ourselves deeply rooted in fact and prevent our minds from straying from the truth, we must look to the last available possibility.

That leads us to the final explanation (the best one): Time Travel. The Stuyvesant building burned to a crisp in 1910. Matthew Monge, Cyclotron enthusiast and researcher, personally searched the city records for any mention of the fire. “I looked through the online records only to find a memetic kill agent embedded in the page,” Monge said between seizures. “The only evidence that the fire existed is a singular picture in the 1910 glass block embedded somewhere in the new building.” Therefore, the particle accelerator ripped a hole in space-time, knocking out the power in the block and transporting itself to 1910 where it combusted, burning down the building. While it has been speculated that the perpetrator was Stuyvesant chorus teacher Liliya Shamazov in her attempt to destroy the Men’s Choir, we are forced to conclude by overwhelming evidence that the true culprit was an irresponsible world government trying to erase evidence of the machine as quickly as possible.

Though seemingly a cold case, the mystery of Stuyvesant’s particle accelerator still excites and inspires new theories, all grounded solidly in realism. Be careful where you step. You never know if you’ll stumble upon a new piece of evidence to unravel this conspiracy.