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I came into the world at 5:13 on a rainy West Texas morning in early April 1959 — smack dab in between Sputnik and the Cuban Missile Crisis and twice as much trouble, like my daddy used to say.

Can’t say I took a whole lot away with me from the little Panhandle town I grew up in. Except for the memories of stars out on the desert, in skies so dark and deep you’d pretty near convince yourself you could see all the way back to the beginning. That’s where it all started for me, I guess.

After the usual AP physics courses in high school, I landed at the University of Texas, Austin in the late seventies. Back then it was maybe the best place in the world to be if you were a wet-behind-the-ears physics major with an interest in black holes. John Wheeler — the man who’d given black holes their name, don’t you know — had just come in as Director of the UT Institute of Theoretical Physics. Walk down the hall, and you’d like as not bump into Jacob Bekenstein, Wheeler’s student and the discoverer of something called black-hole entropy.

And, of course it was there that the black sheep of the black hole research community, Al Jackson and Mike Ryan, came up with their infamous “Tungus Event as black-hole impact” hypothesis.

Well, the story goes on from there, of course. In the mid-eighties I left UT and lit out for some post-doc work on the West Coast. That was followed by more visiting professorships than you can shake a stick at, until finally I wound up with a tenured position here at — But, no, I’m not supposed to be talking about that.

You see, the thing of it is, my department head has made it pretty clear that the University’d just as soon not be associated with my — quote — crazy ideas — unquote — about Tunguska. Not until and unless they pan out big time, anyway. And, believe me, I’m working on that.

In the meantime, though, there’s no sense in bucking the powers that be. Department heads get to say who sits where, among other things, and if I don’t toe the line, I could wind up holding office hours in the furnace room.

So, I can’t give you the name of my host institution here. Or even my own. (Case you hadn’t guessed, Jack Adler’s an alias, a nom de plume I borrowed from this physicist-character in a novel an author friend of mine’s writing. I figure that’s only fair, though, seeing as how Bill DeSmedt — that’s the friend — went and modeled his Jack Adler character after me to begin with.)

That’s about it, then. Sorry for all the weasel-wording here. But I promise I’ll make it up to you in the seminars. They’re nothing but the straight story — of what the Vurdalak Conjecture is, and how it came to be.

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