August 8, 2005

The world line of a deep space tube sock.

That's a phrase I've remembered for a long time, and not just because I'm amused by incongruity: There is a congruity among the three terms in the phrase. Can you guess what it is?

(RLC is not permitted to participate in this contest!)

IN THE COMMENTS: People are trying, but in need of a hint/clarification. So, let me help. The three two-word terms appeared in a newspaper article in the mid-1970s. The article did not use the one long phrase I made out of the three terms. There's nothing known as "the world line of a deep space tube sock." The question is: what news article contained the phrases "world line," "deep space," and "tube sock"? It is possible to just think hard about what sort of article this would be and come up with the right answer!

32 comments:

amba said...

Well . . . they're each composed of two monosyllabic words, with no hyphen joining them where one might expect one. Only two of the three, however, are a noun modified by another noun.

Ann Althouse said...

It's not anything about the structure of the words. It's a very specific fact, something I read about in a single news article.

Goesh said...

It tells us that God wears socks, and we know he wears sandals with no socks!

Korla said...

I've read somebody describing a multidimensional universe to a tube sock. Am I in the right realm?

Korla said...

Sorry, I meant "comparing," not "describing."

phillywalker said...

Hmmmm. I can't even figure out what "world line" means.

Also can't figure out what the three terms in the phrase are: deep, space, and tube? space, tube, and sock?

deep sock, space sock, tube sock?

I seem to be missing everything in this post.

SippicanCottage said...

You'll have to do better than that, Ann...

Socks, by Chuck Baker.

http://www.socrtwo.info/socks.pdf

Ann Althouse said...

Korla: No, but isn't it pretty to think so?

Phillywalker: The three phrases are world line, deep space, and tube sock. And "world line" is in Wikipedia.

Sippican: Didn't read that whole thing, but the answer isn't there.

bill said...

*obviously,* it's a description of what happens to an astronaut's laundry.

Korla said...

They were all uttered by Dutch Schultz?

Korla said...

They are all seamless?

Korla said...

One seems endless, one ends seamless, and one... sends eamless???

Korla said...

One concerns Doctor Who, one concerns Dr. McCoy, and one concerns Dr. Scholl.

Korla said...

Actually, it sounds like Racter.

Ann Althouse said...

Korla: You keep answering like the Amazing Karnak.

Ann Althouse said...

Remember the three phrases were in a single news article some years back. (Perhaps 1975 or 1976).

Tom said...

Ummmm.....does it have something to do with the "greetings from Earth" plaque on a Voyageur or Pioneer or one of those spacecraft? The plaque had line drawings of the earth, went to deep space, and the naked male member of the smiling, waving guy always looked like a tube sock to me (but that's because I was only about 10 or 11 at the time and not too bright).

bill said...

With 1975 I'm thinking it's some sort of Red Sox comment, but I can't quite puzzle it out.

Otherwise, I'm still thinking it explains that all the lost laundry socks are floating around in space.

Dale B said...

All could be continuous, infinite, and fold back on themselves.

Or, as Bill said, my sox are lost in space. They sure aren't in the house.

Ann Althouse said...

Let me be clear. The three phrases appeared in a news article in the mid 70s, but not in the one long phrase I've made. So there's nothing known as "the world line of a deep space tube sock." The question is what news article contained the phrases "world line," "deep space," and "tube sock"? It is possible to just think hard about what sort of article this would be and come up with the right answer! Come on, you can do it!

Finn Kristiansen said...

This entire question is just a ruse Ann uses to keep us distracted while she sneaks out the back door over to Instapundit's house for brie and wine and witty banter.

And we are thus left here alone, hearts like little black holes in space, empty, deep, bent in time.

That's my guess.

SippicanCottage said...

I find you a story with NASA deep space tube socks, and you are not impressed. Now you're hinting that the article you remember is a year in review sorta thing from 1976-1977.

This is beginning to remind me of a bad Wilkie Collins novel, where the author throws out hints that everyone in the room murdered somebody, and then on the last page, some stranger walks in and says: "I did it."

Chrees said...

The only space things from that time period that I recall (and that it is a space item may be a bad assumption) are the Viking probes to Mars, Apollo and Soyuz hook up, Concorde, the first space shuttle starts up around then, and I'm sure there are more.

Viking is about the only one that might fit the bill, but I'm not so sure. Or maybe the tube sock was used as a sock puppet in a play about space!

Finn Kristiansen said...

I hate to lose the subtlety of my previous post, but I want the credit darn it! Let us look at some recent news:

Hawking postulated in 1975 that a black hole was so powerful that anything that crossed its boundary, called the event horizon, would be swallowed up for ever.

But after nearly 30 years, he admitted his theory about black holes as bottomless pits in space, sucking in all matter and energy like a giant vacuuum cleaner, was flawed.


The article, and all those terms are about black holes.

Jeffrey Boulier said...

There's curvature to all of them. You can go around the world and wind up at the same place, you might be able to do the same travelling in deep space (cosmologists go back and forth on this), and at least in certain directions you can do the same with a tube sock.

Yeah, that was kind of reaching, but it's the best I can come up with right now.

bill said...

still on the hunt, but whatever you do don't google:

skylab "tube sock"

I must take the computer out back and hose the scum off it.

Charles said...

Geodesic domes?

Ann Althouse said...

Sippican: But there was no world line...

Another hint: think language, but, again, in the sense of a news story about language.

Mark Daniels said...

Wild guess: The three terms were first-time entrants in the Oxford Dictionary in the same year.

peter hoh said...

Some news article -- perhaps an announcement of words added to the dictionary, but world line seems to have been in use for much too long to be added in the mid 1970s.

Shot in the dark: perhaps the article was about terms that don't translate well. But that doesn't sound newsy enough, and you indicate a news article.

I can imagine all three terms meeting in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but again, not news.

Hmm. Must belong to some set of questions that don't google well. When I taught math, I liked questions for which calculators were of no use.

Ann Althouse said...

Mark, Peter: You're right. All three terms were added to the dictionary in the same year. (Can't remember which dictionary it was.)

Finn Kristiansen said...

Grrrrrrrr.