[1] Not to be confused with Harvard’s Fred L. Whipple, leading authority on comets and coiner (in 1950) of the “Dirty Snowball” theory of cometary composition. [Return to text.]

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Question: Why Don’t We Hear the Thing?

(Submitted in response to Soapbox Q&A #2: Is Jack's Air-Braking Mechanism Broken?)

If there was a black hole zipping about inside the Earth with apogee near the surface, we’d hear the thing.

Doctor Jack's Answer

Why? It’s not digging a tunnel. It’s not chewing up a whole lot of rock. And its apogee’s probably a good two to ten kilometers down by this time.

The Earth is big and no one expects seismic sources to travel at a few KPS. So no one’s looking for such a thing: If anyone were interested in trying, I could suggest several data sources to comb through — from satellite gravity measurements to the UN’s new network for detecting clandestine nuclear tests.

But until somebody does make a deliberate effort, fast transients, like the ones Vurdalak would generate, are likely to be discarded as “scruff.” Remember Jocelyn Bell-Burnell and the discovery of the first pulsar.

Yours truly,
Jack Adler

copyright (c) 2005 by amber productions, inc.

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