Wednesday, August 16, 2006

To CharlesPierce and His Wife

Remember that time a couple of summers ago when we had an incredibly nerdy conversation over dinner at your apartment about the viability of travel through the earth's core?

Apparently Jasper Fforde was cribbing notes from that little junket because here he is, on pp 162-3 of the Lost in a Good Book, writing this:

"Now, about the Gravitube?"

"Well," I replied, gathering my thoughts, "in a few minutes the shuttle will have entered the airlock and depressurization will commence—"

"Depressurization? Why?"

"For a frictionless drop. No air resistance – and we are kept from touching the sides by a powerful magnetic field. We then simply free-fall the eight thousand miles to Sydney."

"So all cities have a DeepDrop to every other city, then?"

"Only London and New York connecting to Sydney and Tokyo. If you wanted to get from Buenos Aires to Auckland, you'd first take the overmantle to Miami, then to New York, DeepDrop to Tokyo, and finally another overmantle to Auckland."

"How fast does it go?" asked Snell, slightly nervously.

"Peaks at fourteen thousand miles per hour," said my neighbor from behind his magazine, "give or take. We'll fall with increasing velocity but decreasing acceleration until we reach the center of the earth, at which point we will have attained our maximum velocity. Once past the center our velocity will decrease until we reach Sydney, when our velocity will have decreased to zero."

"Is it safe?"

"Of course!" I assured him.

"What if there's another shuttle coming the other way?"

"There can't be," I assured him. "There's only one shuttle per tube."

"What you say is true," said my boring neighbor. "The only thing we have to worry about is a failure of the magnetic containment system that keeps the ceramic tube and us from melting in the liguid core of the earth."

"Don't listen to this, Snell."

"Is that likely?" he asked.

"Never happened before," replied the man somberly, "but then if it had, they wouldn't tell us about it, now would they?"


So I think he's got the concept a little more fleshed out than we did. We mostly got stuck on not melting or making the earth's magnetic field change, but he totally stole our idea. And I don't care if the title page copyright is 2002.


Plankiest said...

Oh my gosh! I love Jasper Fforde! You must read the whole series! It is great!

And, he is coming out with a new series now! I just saw the first installment at B&N the other day!


Anonymous said...

Jasper Fforde definitely does not have it flushed out more than we did. He forgot that when you reach the other side (Sydney), you would be pulled back into the tube by the gravitational force of the earth! Unless of course there is something to catch you at the end and prevent you from slipping back read on, E.

So here I am, reading your blog again and again posting as "anonymous." I should just get a Blogger account already! I am honored that you have dedicated the post to my husband and me. :)

E.A.P said...

Plankiest: I finished Lost in a Good Book today. It was lovely. I think I'll have to go back and read The Eyre Affair and the move forward in the series. It's good escapist fiction, if nothing else. Can't wait to see you next week!!!

Wife of Pierce: TWICE? I am speechless. And I would love it if you got an account. You could write stories about teaching and change all the names. It would be funny!

In regard to the Gravitube, I guess there's a magnet at each end the holds the car in which you travel while you embard and disembark on each side of the globe. That made sense to me because you could just turn off the magnet and let it drop smooth. There's a still a problem when it comes to, you know, DRILLING A HOLE THROUGH THE EARTH, but whatever. Thanks for your sharp insight, and feel free to stop by and comment any time, anonymously or no.

E.A.P said...

Apparently, I should have proofread that last comment before posting. Yiiiiikes!

Don Quixote said...

I think stopping the car in Syndney would not be the problem. It would slide to a smooth, gentle stop, at which point you would just have to lock onto it with some docking clamps.

After you get over the problem with drilling through the earth, the next big one is evacuating the tube. You need to get rid of the air, or friction would heat up the car someting fierce. However, think about the energy needed to pull all of the air out of a tube that long!