||INT - NASA HOUSTON PRESS CONFERENCE - ROOM LIGHT (PLAYBACK)
("ROGUE HOLE" for the [OUTER-STORY])
Along the walls WIDESCREEN VIDEOS DISPLAY, for impressing news media with
NASA's high-technology telecommunications facilitation, DIAGRAMS of logarithmic-compressed
exo-solar-system, planet-icons [labeled "Earth", etc.]
MOVING in diagrammatically simulated months-per-second:
"Dateline: 1999/12/03:03:15 Houston"
SHE is a NASA Research-Director, a lip-sticking woman. HE is her Assistant
Research-Director, star-emblemed white-shirt. THEY are mixed video-news
teams in representative jackets and gear (ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, NBC, XBS-Christian
Broadcasting System [emblem of cross+sandals+ground]),
plus 2 quiet NASA SENIOR-SCIENTISTS:
They are puzzled by NASA's openness on this dilemma:
Resume the [outer-story]....
Earth-crossing cometoids, planet-busting asteroids with cute names, are just
not big media news these days - NASA must have lost another budget-bout
in D-C, again: How much did you ask-for this time? Was it what you expected?
Asteroids are gypsy-jive - I'm talking about a rogue black-hole: a
gravity singularity, with the mass of 3 suns, packed into the space of
6 miles cubed, moving in the vicinity of our solar system.
(waffles serious nonchalance)
And it's coming this way - of course: Is it going to hit Paris, first?
or China?! And, how many people are we talking about being annihilated
by a rogue - or was that a, rouge, black hole?!
Aren't they all - If we didn't have lip-stick armageddon scenarios
rerunning every week-end on T-V, we'd have to invent a war, to
raise a few dickies at the next Congressional House picnic.
We have, a war.
I mean a real war - Congress has issued no mandamus: They only promised
we'd pay, if the President shoots - again.
It's a war if I say it's a war - I'm a news-reporter, here, and
what I say, is what's going on.
Let's play, Spin-The-Headline:
Who wants, Black Hole Heads For Earth -- Not!?
That's sure to confuse someone, enough to make a newsy movie about
stratospheric finance-stockpiling: Argo Meddlin' ... Fort Knoxygen.
Was that the name? I thought it was, Arms-a-gettin!
Full-page spread, opposite, Army Builds Near-Missile Base.
Hold it down - NASA is being as open about this as we can - this is
not hype - this is for real - we've learned lessons about secrecy we don't
want to repeat - and the President agrees: We need to see now, how the
world reacts to this threat: Too-late can be worse than too-early.
And we've got about a couple years, you say: Why can't NASA be more
openly accurate on this one?
We are telling you as much as we can compute: This rogue hole is fairly
dry - it must have swallowed its debris rings long-ago: We can barely detect
it is there at all.
How do you know it, is, there, at all?
It has a gamma-signature: It's been spotted in the U-S-Air-Force X-ray
Facility - the Wide-Field Gamma-Ray attachment: We always send-up extras
on any platform.
Congressional Defense Bills attached with milk-money riders.
What's your limit on precision - or do we say, accuracy, here?
Accuracy, is what your audience wants: We estimate it'll pass the solar
system in 10 to 16 months.
Is this R-L Forward's thesis, Dragon's Egg?
I read that he worked for NASA - didn't he?
Dr. Forward researched condensed matter: neutron stars. This is a mass-hole:
what happens when the velocity of light across the surface of a very large
neutron star, gets exceeded by the gravity-pull: it can no longer orbit,
and falls-back onto the neutron star: then the neutrons themselves can no-longer
withstand the gravity, and the whole star collapses into its own hole.
Well, gravity sucks, as my kids say.
Don't say that: NASA will kick us out for profanity on the premises.
Maybe it's Greg Benford's, Cosm!?
(shakes, no, mouths)
So what's the scenario? Why aren't we keeping this little secret, little - so you
guys can send-up a team and plug the hole? Why isn't the President
keeping this under national security wraps?!
NASA officially has an open-information policy - only specifics that are
pre-determined to impinge national security and national intelligence gathering,
are ever pre-secured - and we never really keep anything from you-guys.
So what's going to happen? The rogue hole grazes the Oort-cloud and throws
a handful of asteroids into the inner solar system - one threatens to land
on the Duchy of Lichtenstein - and America will grant billions of new dollars
to pay for their national defense!?
That was, Grand Fenwick.
No, we don't believe the rogue hole will get that close:
No closer than maybe a TAU - a thousand astronomical units.
X-ray damage!? at a thousand astronomical units? Loss of a few
inter-stellar asteroids sucked-up by the black-hole? What's the deal? You
want billions to convert another deep-space platform into a rogue-hole fly-by
(looks at She)
that would be nice ...
(looks at them)
But, no: Bolden is going through regular funding channels on that much:
We're - we've ...
(guffaws at She)
--how do we tell them?
(tries at them)
It may - just may - get close-enough to our solar system, to alter
the orbital elements and ephemerides of the outer planets, Pluto, Neptune
Change your amateur sky charts?! Is that what's worrying you?! Big-news
NASA announces Astrologer's Nightmare: Uranus Babies to live-longer!?
Beat the Global tabloids to the punch, with America's News Syndicate!?
(shakes head into hands)
This is a bigger headache than Y-2-K.
Oh, Lord-- the clocks will never be the same again: Our calendar and the
seasons will be rearranged: The equinox may move a few days, Climates will
change - for better or worse.... A few leap-seconds per year we can
hack, but leap-seconds in a day, backward or forward - an hour, a quarter
of a day, per year - will mess-up calendars forever: The new calendar may
take decades to settle: and it'll never again agree with the old calendar:
The Vatican may defrock Pope Gregory.
It's not news!
(puzzles to CBS)
What's not news?!
It's not news: It happens just once in history: The clocks change - that's
news - but a rogue hole, is merely science - cosmology: You put science
in school textbooks, not headlines.
Yes, but this is, big science - a rare event - like a supernova: if it
How often, do, these occur? Is this the first of a series?
Very rarely: one in 70 million years, maybe.
'Could explain the dinosaur extinctions, maybe?
We can news a new theory about how the cosmos works: But you've got
to keep it to two good theories: That's politically correct - tabloids
go for thirds.
What theories?! This is an act of God!
And, we can't tell people how to prepare for any of its wildly improbable
outcomes: This just happens: that's all!
Do we publish science coursework updates?
Are we commercialized school-book errata services?
We're, not, mere internet news-groups.
Then, what can we say? Do we just leave this to the magazines? Can't we
get some amateur to video-tape his computer calendar projections? This
You can cover it with other discoveries.
Is there something you haven't told us?
(polite to scientist)
Can you example for us?
I am recalling similar evidences recorded by K. Lande back in January of
Good - guesswork is always news-worthy.
Dr. Lande set-up the first neutrino experiment in the Homestake Mine.
Almost immediately he got results, which he published in Nature, in October,
Neutrinos are more evidences of black-holes.
Not in the quantity we can detect them: We can 'see' our sun in neutrinos,
but barely: We catch a few in big N-D-E tanks over months - 20-percent
more during the days than the nights. The few neutrinos counted at Homestake,
were evidence of a supernova that occurred, but we don't know where or
when, except that Dr. Lande got a strong fast burst signal, when we didn't
expect much sensitivity.
Little green men didn't contribute to this!?
No, this was real - but it was the only one: Until the Large Magellanic
Cloud supernova in February, 19-87, we had no comparison to prove or disprove.
Okay: We have some old evidence discarded: That's news! Could it have come
from this rogue hole? Something we all missed in our new theories.
No. The rogue hole must be ancient - otherwise its nova would have been
too close to Earth, and fried most of us larger life-forms, And it would
still have a halo of debris: This thing, we think, is clean.
Okay - you're handing us something to work-with.
New science directions:
Gamma-ray discoveries open a can of objectivity.
Can you tell us where these neutrinos came-from: nearer the center
of our galaxy? behind the dust barrier? outside?
No. Just that the event was a strong detection, but Dr. Lande's experiment
tank was very small.
Then, how do we use that to develop a story? If the supernova was hidden
in dust clouds ... How, strong - any quantitative measure?
A thousand times stronger than the '87 event.
That would mean 30 times closer: about 5 thousand light-years away:
Well, that's a lot nearer than the galaxy core!? But still no supernova
remnant to tell distance!?
I thought supernovae always left remnants, which should be visible in the
radio spectrum - another piece of a puzzle!?
Yes, they do eventually.
Sounds like we missed an earlier opportunity.
(one more try)
And 2 decades isn't enough time!?
Then, what are we missing here?
Could we be inside its radio remnant, already?
Would we be able to distinguish that against the cosmic background?
Probably not if it's a normal large supernova.
What would be a, not-normal, large supernova?
A re-nova, or the collapse of a large moon-size asteroid onto the surface
of an already hard neutron star.
But how does this help us?
If the rogue is not emitting neutrinos, but is near to us, the other,
must be, a neutron star - or is that a pulsar?
There is no pulsar noticed with either of these two cases.
Yet one is, moving in the vicinity of our solar system: We can update our
recognition of the numerosity of these objects in interstellar space -
it's beginning to look over-crowded:
(to senior sci)
How often do you expect to find these -
I thought supernovae were rare: every hundred years or some.
Yes, supernovae tend to be rare events, but there's nothing preventing
them occurring near in time: we just don't expect it.
What would distinguish a re-nova caused by the fall of an asteroid?
Possibly its neutrino rate would be much faster and shorter.
Like what you were describing: the easy detection by Professor Lande!?
How much, shorter and faster?
Tens, hundreds, thousands times shorter and faster - depending on the size
and elemental composition of the asteroid.
But an asteroid would be much less productive of neutrinos!
A millionth ... how big is an asteroid in solar masses?
Any tiny fraction: our moon is about 37 billionths the mass of our sun
- a big asteroid, a thousandth of that - neutron stars are more massive
than our sun by a factor of 2 or 3.
Then, if these two aren't the same ...
Now I take it, they must both, be close to us - this other evidence
you suggested: It must be 10-thousand times closer: less than a light year
It could be.
It's practically in our own solar system!
What are we dealing-with, here?!
We're news-media: not the C-I-A!
'Christian' is right: We're not into exposing secrets - we do it when we
feel the public is being cheated of its own truth - but you've rather plainly
told us something you don't understand yourself!
Or, can you tell us, more about this: either of these?
We don't know more - about either -
We don't have the funds to find-out, more.
Well, that explains why they need billions more!
(restarts to senior-sci)
Excuse me, for returning to an earlier subject:
You said, Bolden is already asking:
Why, then, are we discussing what you don't know?
He's a senior scientist:
That question is my responsibility, to answer.
And, your answer, is...!?
If we go with what little we have now, we have an armageddon scenario
with no guns - only the powder burns - and the big boulders at the top
of the hill.
And violent assumptions!? What powder burns?!
Or, is NASA getting hyped on jargon?
We don't have - NASA doesn't have, a public psychology department --
none we can trust on this: We just discuss these things openly with,
all, our people....
You remember the '60's astronaut family-burn-out: It hurt us badly:
We did a lot of soul-searching on that, and decided that we can't expect
our people to just accept on duty and faith, whatever we tell them:
The same with you: we're telling you what we know, and what concerns
us deeply, as people, as adults, as citizens, as religious men and women
of any faith: And we leave it to you to develop what's public news-story.
Any clues as to what your own people, do think of it!?
Armageddon - powder burns without guns - boulders on the hill-top.
What, is, that powder-burn, stuff?!
Some of our people are more religious, more Scriptural - we hire without
discriminating against religious curiosity: But when you're thinking about
the future, scientifically, you run-into all kinds of, well, frankly, spooky,
concerns: They feel that the religious fervor that goes with any really
colossal impending upheaval, preceding and succeeding, does a lot of unnecessary
damage in our communities: meaningless riots, prurient public broadcasting
- and, they don't want to be responsible for answering your questions!
Oh - so your people are afraid the media is too inquisitive? too overt!?
Well, why don't you just announce 8-to-3 classes about all this, and
we can attend your colloquia at our convenience!
They're not offended.
As He said: They feel we are all in this one, together, for better
or worse: They said to tell you what we have, but don't ask them or NASA
for answers we don't have.
But, where, is, the powder burn?!
What do you mean, powder burn?
It's just metaphoric for saying historic evidence is upon us.
A powder burn - if it's not a woman's fast facial - means, without guns,
highly explosive, easily detonated, terrorism.
You think America will surrender to this?
Easy, 'Christian' - you're not known for historic kindnesses in the Crusades.
Hey - take it easy:
That was militant-wanna-be-Christians, controlling their armies for
Christ: certainly not our modern protestants, Catholics, and ecumenicals!
N-B-C is right: but I can't explain what everyone-else knows more about:
Some scholar suggests that Saint John, in his New Testament Revelation,
may have actually heard the horn-like buzzing of a very near supernova.
I don't recall us reporting any horn-like tones from S-N-19-87-A.
An interesting piece of the puzzle:
Everyone else knows more about this than any scientist or reporter: Therefore
we can't publicize this without talking stupidly childish.
S-N-19-87-A was too far away to be detected as loud as a horn.
German astrophysicists, and an American, computed several harmonics in
the neutrino burst from 87-A, at multiples of 5-Hertz.
That's that one I never get: 5-Hertz is, 2-and-a-half cycles-per-hesit:
because it was previously 5 cycles-per-second!?
About that much, 2-point-3 cycles per hesit, yes.
But that's not a horn: You need hundreds or thousands of Hertz, to
hear a horn.
Yes - a reduction of Dr. Lande's '74 neutrino data suggests about a thousand
Hertz - very high 'B' or 'C' if you're musically inclined.
'And I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, saying, I am
Alpha and Omega, the first and the last ... and his countenance was as
the sun shineth in his strength ... and saying unto me, I am he that liveth,
and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the
keys of hell and of death' ... Wow - I never realized that possibility:
His angels are the wondrous images in the Earth, sky, and heavens!
But he had in his right hand seven stars - that would be the Pleiades:
Could that be?
The Pleiades, are near the ecliptic, where the known planets go.
Then, we should publicize this: the Churches will eat this up like a book!
And make your belly bitter.
Only as long as we're publishing children's books!
(to scientist, to she, to he)
How long can we stall this?!
We can put a few good researchers on this - but, we don't have the
resources for more: We'll have to run preparatory articles for, maybe a
Can we all agree to run prep for one year, and return to NASA
for another meeting like this one, and all publish together whatever is
then current - hopefully more than we have today.
I'll have to agree on 6 months delay, but we don't have the resources to run
our reporters back through astronomy school - we'll have to ask NASA to
work with our news teams on re-education of the public domain - Adult-Ed.
We did this back in the '60's for the Apollo moon flights - it took us
all a few years to get into the swing of show and tell, but we know how
to gear-up for this.
Are you, NASA, going to send anything right-away?
Cancel my question: that's too many years late -
What telescopes, are you using, to follow this?
We've been pointing HUBBLE an hour a day for weeks - we don't get
much, and it doesn't change much - we're reprogramming all available radio telescopes and X-ray and Gamma-ray telescopes - we didn't invent anything to watch for nearby rogue