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"There remain some possibilities for a rational explanation," I began. All eyes were on me, and I was ready to deliver.

"There's a small chance that during the Hubble observations, the suspected satellite of Sedna was hidden, lurking either directly behind or directly in front of Sedna." I paused to let my words sink in. "Or a satellite might have throttled Sedna's rotation long ago, then been destroyed in a collision or lost in a gravitational interaction with a planet."

You could hear a pin drop in the room. I had them now, and wasn't going to let up.

"Or, Sedna might rotate every 25 hours instead of 24 days, a setup that could fool astronomers into drawing their present conclusion. This latter possibility can be confirmed or ruled out with more observations."

I decided to try improvising a little...

"All these scenarios are seen as unlikely. More likely, Brown figures, is that the satellite is darker than expected and simply didn't show up."

I leaned forward and, lowering my voice for dramatic effect, delivered my knockout punch.

" 'Even though it's quite large, it could be quite dark,' he said. 'We still very strongly believe there is or was a satellite.' " Heading offstage, I acknowledged the thunderous standing ovation with a gracious tilt of the head. No curtain call, though - that's not part of what I do.

Date Written: April 16, 2004
Author: Jon Matza
Average Vote: 3.75

04/22/2004 Ewan Snow (4): I like the idea of this one, which is, as I understand it, an (almost) entirely regular description of a guy talking about our newest planetoid’s mystery non-moon. It’s funny, but I’m not sure why. I guess it’s supposed to be the contrast between the ordinariness of the subject matter and the speaker’s satisfaction with his own importance. To me, though, it’s the ordinariness itself more than the contrast that’s funny, I think.
04/22/2004 Will Disney (4): Yes, this one's a nice change-up.
04/22/2004 TheBuyer (4): Nothing like a good spin-scientist.
04/22/2004 qualcomm (3):
04/22/2004 Ferucio P. Chhretan (4): Mr. Snow, are you saying this subject matter is ordinary?
04/22/2004 Ewan Snow: Not in the context of a short, no. But parts of it could practically be a transcript of a news conference from a few days ago, when the Hubble pix of the planetoid came back. In other words, the portions in quotes were totally regular.
04/23/2004 John Slocum (4): Wonderfully adept.
04/23/2004 Benny Maniacs (4): Is this guy married?
04/23/2004 mr.coffee: sci-[non]fi always gets 4 stars, no matter what...
04/30/2004 Not Lisa (3): "No curtain call, though - that's not part of what I do"-- good line.
04/1/2005 Litcube: Smiled the whole way through. Your brand, for sure. New quarter, Matza. Let's see some hustle out there!