PALO ALTO, CA—Gathering for what members of the international science community are calling "potentially the most totally out-to-lunch freaky head trip since Einstein postulated that space and time were, like, curved and shit," a consortium of the world's top physicists descended upon Stanford University Monday to discuss some of the difficult questions facing the cutting edge of theoretical thinking.

Cal Tech physicist Dr. Jonathan Friedrich postulates a bunch of freaky shit that makes his colleagues' heads spin right the hell off.

Among the revolutionary ideas expected to be raised at the historic week-long summit is the possibility that, like, our whole friggin' universe might be just one big atom in, say, some super-duper huge thing out there somewhere, or something.

"Whoa, man," Dr. Jacob "The Boz" Bozeman of MIT told reporters. "The implications of this deceptively simple hypothesis are, like, completely blowing my mind. Like, we could all be nothing more than this little dot in the fingernail of some huge-ass giant dude. Or maybe a seed in the mustard of, like, some really big sandwich, or even a germ on the back of a flea that's, like, sitting on a hair on some giant dog's ass. Truly, it boggles the freakin' mind, man. It freaks me the fuck right out."

The universe-as-possible-giant-atom theory originated in May with a team of Cal Tech particle physicists, who developed the theory late one night while sitting around on a couch in the Physics Department's cyclotron and foosball facility, "just shooting the shit." The theory, which was reportedly conceived after the group became highly engrossed in ceiling-tile patterns for several minutes while waiting for a pizza to arrive, is said to be so advanced that only a few scientists in the world even have their heads together enough to really, you know, deal. Yet even among this elite group, many are said to be "seriously thrown for a loop" by its implications.

"I'm like, 'Whoa there, man, slow down,'" said Dr. Dieter Gerhardt, a low-temperature physicist at Cornell University. Pausing for a moment to collect himself, the renowned scientist then placed his hands on his forehead before extending them outward in a sweeping gesture and making a buzzing "space-noise" sound effect with his lips, non-verbally indicating the degree to which his mind was blown by the whole freaky deal.

Among other topics to be explored at the Stanford conference, according to Bozeman: the concept of parallel, or "alternate," Earths; the theory of multi-dimensional "superstrings" that fold backward and forward throughout the fabric of the universe; and "a whole bunch of other shit I totally can't even handle thinking about right now."

On Monday, the most high-profile conference attendee, Cambridge's Dr. Stephen Hawking, discussed his recent research exploring the possible existence of "sideways," or lateral, time, a concept most scientists in attendance described as "way out there."

"I don't want to fuck with anybody's head here," Hawking told the assembled scientists via his voice-simulation device, "but if time goes sideways as well as forward, there might be, like, other versions of this reality, where, say, the Roman Empire is still in charge and stuff."

"By the way," Hawking added, "ever think about what'd happen if you, say, went back in time and accidentally killed your own younger self? Man, that shit would be so fucked up."

Hawking's ideas provoked strong reaction. "I remember I was pretty wigged out when Feynman came up with that shit about antiparticles just being normal particles traveling backwards in time," said Dr. Wei Lo-Huang of Princeton. "That was heavy enough to have to deal with. But now Hawking comes up with this? What is with that?"

"Fuck, man... if this turns out to be true, it will require a total recalibration of all our methods for measuring space-time flux, and that means all my old equations are gonna be, like, for shit," Wei said. "Aw, man."

Though Hawking's lateral-time theory may prove significant, most scientists in attendance said they plan to avoid it for now, explaining that the "whole one big atom deal" (or "WOBAD" theory, as it has come to be known within physics circles) is more than enough to completely freak their shit, and that they would prefer to take these mind-blowing questions one at a time, just so they don't completely, you know, lose it.

"I totally can't get with where my head is at, if you dig what I'm saying," said Dr. Sanjay Gupta, renowned for his work in advanced quantum hydroponics theory. "It's like, one big atom? Forget about it, man. Even weirder is, like, if we're just one big atom in a larger universe, how do we know all the little atoms don't have, you know, little universes in them, with, like, little people living on them, with little cars and little houses, and maybe even itsy-bitsy tiny-ass international symposiums on cutting-edge theoretical physics, even."

"That shit would be too much," Gupta said. "It'd be like that Dr. Seuss book Horton Hears A Who and shit. I read that when I was, like, six, and it totally weirded me out."

"Say, can I get another handful of those chips, dude?" Gupta asked.