APS News

Zero Gravity: The Lighter Side of Science

The Haunting of the Snark: An Anxiety in 13 Bits
(With apologies to Lewis Carroll)

By Jerome Malenfant

"Just the place for a Snark!" the Chairman said,
To encourage the crew about.
"While my works on this subject are mostly unread,
Of this there can be no doubt!"

"We have sailed from the East, we have sailed from the West,
Our one goal sublimely stark;
And that is to put our theories to test
By hunting the shadowy Snark."

"The machines and the crew are ready at last,"
(As he polished his Nobel Prizes).
"The principle task, if one needs to ask,
Is to penetrate the Snark's disguises."

"It will hide in the desert, it will hide in the sea;
It will pretend to be a tourist from Rome.
It will act as a long-lost friend from Paree
At the same time it asks for a loan."

"It will take all your stocks, your cash, and your socks,
With an outcome that's generally tragic.
It will vex with conundrums and paradoxes
and all sorts of problems mathematic."

"The Snark, in addition, does not lack for ambition
And will cheat at chess and croquet.
And upon your encounter with its apparition
You may possibly vanish away."

With this last bit of news we altered our views
On the wisdom of hunting the Snark.
(As an added precaution, we sent out for more booze,
In light of the Chairman's remark.)

But we pursued it with hope from obscure publications
By a Mathematician from Maine
Who therein had proven, through algebraic relations,
That our Chairman was mostly insane.

We sought it with logic, we sought it with glue;
We hunted with cunning and malice.
We threatened its fate with red tape and blue;
We searched with ATLAS and ALICE.

We sought it with truth, we sought it with charm;
We pursued it with Belle, book, and candle.
We searched in city and searched under farm;
We googled in Orff and in Handel.

We sought it with paper, we sought it with string;
We looked for it under the stairs.
We thought of the press that its capture would bring,
Found either as one or in pairs.

We sought it in circles, we sought it in lines,
In symbols, in graphs, and in primes.
We searched for arcane metaphysical signs
Of its passage through other space-times.

Then finally, at last, we encountered the prey
In the depths of the LHC,
Where we softly and suddenly vanished away–
For the Snark WAS a Black Hole, you see.

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Staff Science Writer: Michael Lucibella