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Institute of Fuzzy Science and the Hubble Space Telescope (Todd A. Brun)
(science, chuckle)

Here is my third Institute of Fuzzy Science bulletin.  I wrote it shortly
after The Bad News came out about Hubble...

	IFS and the Hubble Space Telescope        

There has been a great furor recently over the realization that 
the Hubble Space Telescope is a very sick optical instrument.  
Amidst finger-pointing and name-calling, it has become clear that 
the optics involved were not tested adequately.

"We goofed," admitted one high-ranking NASA official, who 
asked to remain anonymous.  "I mean, what with one thing and 
another, the space shuttle blowing up, bad weather in Washington, 
and the rising price of dairy products...well, we were years behind 
schedule.  Years and years.  Years and years and years.  Who ever 
thought we'd actually get around to launching the damned thing?  
Then, you know, you let things slide for a while, then all of a 
sudden, blammo, you've got to stuff the thing into the cargo bay, 
and you suddently remember all the stuff you've been putting off, 
like not taking down the storm windows at home, or filling out 
your income tax returns, or testing the mirror with collimated 
light.  It could happen to anyone."

Yet in the cross-fire of accusations and bureaucratic 
posterior-covering, the dedicated thinkers at the Institute of Fuzzy 
Science have been quietly working to correct the problem.  While 
conventional scientific techniques look dubious at best, the bolder 
approach of IFS may soon bear fruit.

"At JPL," commented Institute scientist Hier O. Nymous, 
"they're talking about putting additional optics in the camera to 
correct the problem.  That's just giving the telescope a crutch to 
lean on; it doesn't get at the root of the problem."  Nymous's 
solution is to boost into orbit a copy of See Without Glasses by 
Ralph MacFayden.  "With the proper exercises and the right mental 
attitude, it should be able to correct the problem without artificial 
aid.  The paperback version of MacFayden's book could be purchased 
and launched at very low cost."

Dr. Nymous, one of the Institute's most distinguished 
scientists, is the author of numerous theories on almost as many 
subjects.  One of his most controversial ideas is that mass 
extinctions have occured periodically throughout the history of 
life, due to infections caused by the dumping of garbage from an 
alien restaurant.  This restaurant normally orbits the sun at a 
distance too great to be noticed.  Periodically, though, its highly 
eccentric orbit brings it near the Earth, where it dumps the trash 
that has accumulated in the previous several million years.  For 
evidence, he cites the much debated discovery of hamburger 
wrappings in a layer of Jurassic rock.  Detractors suggest that the 
wrappings might have become mixed in with the other fossils by a 
careless field worker, who'd been eating on the job.  Nymous 
dismisses these criticisms.  His co-workers have suggested the 
name "Nymous's" for the alien restaurant, and the theory is 
commonly known as the '"Nymous's" hypothesis'.

Another Institute worker, Simon Earnest, questions the need 
for the HST at all.  "My radical new optical theory permits us to 
make images here on the ground that are sharper than anything the 
Hubble could provide, even if it were functioning perfectly," he 

In proof of this he has produced a number of photographs of 
distant galaxies.  Individual stars stand out with remarkable 
clarity against the darkness of the sky.  No blurring at all is 
observed, though Earnest claims that the shots are well beyond the 
range of any telescope in use today.

"These stars," he says, "are so far away it just makes my head 
swim.  You know Timbuktu?  It's like the corner store, compared to 
this.  I mean, we're talking far, here.  Andromeda is in the next 
room, by comparison.  Mucho distant, do you get what I'm saying?"

On being shown the photographs, this reporter was surprised to 
notice the presence of a watermark in the middle of the sky.  When 
asked whether these stars were not in fact just pinholes in a sheet 
of black construction paper with a light behind it, Dr. Earnest 
answered easily:

"Well, maybe a little.  But it doesn't really make any 
difference.  You've seen one star, you've seen them all."

	-- Anon E. Muss

(From the "Rest" of RHF)

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