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Earman's "lost socks and green slime"

  1. Apr 15, 2015 #1


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    There is a memorable and well-known characterization of naked singularities by John Earman, which is that anything can come out of one, including green slime or your lost socks. As with many aphorisms, the form in which it's usually repeated is not actually the form in which it was first stated. When I wanted to present the concept in a lecture, I looked it up and found Earman's picturesque diagram and description in his book Bangs, crunches, whimpers, and shrieks: singularities and acausalities in relativistic spacetimes, Oxford, 1995. I thought others might be interested in the quote and the figure. The original quote was:

    The political reference is unfortunately pretty dated: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Checkers_speech

    The figure from the book is here: http://www.lightandmatter.com/lec/earman_naked_singularity.png . (I haven't asked Earman's permission to put the figure online, but IMO this is a clear example of academic fair use.) Earman has made his book available for downloading from his academic web site as a pdf: http://pitt.edu/~jearman/
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 15, 2015 #2
    I think he's just having a bit of fun there.
    Since a singularity is an inexplicable (so far), mathematical artifact, it cannot be ascribed predictable physical properties.
    If any physical object existed which has properties suggested by the math, those properties would allow for all kinds of inconceivable and undefined behaviour,. including spontaneous production of virtual socks.
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