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Of Black Holes, White Holes and Potholes

Be careful! That pothole you're about to drive over might really be a black hole!

Being a physics fanatic—give me any book by Brian Greene—I can certainly understand why the fine folks at Fermilab have been ardently seeking the existence of the Higgs boson, or as it’s more commonly known, the “God particle.” But as the Tevatron sadly and slowly fades into the CERN sunset, I can’t help but think that, instead of delving in to black holes, they might have been far better off attempting to determine the quantum properties of potholes.

First, potholes appear out of nowhere. They obviously eat matter with a clear predilection for asphalt. They exert a strange, unknown attractive force on the front wheels of passing automobiles, warping the space-time continuum in such a way that you can never avoid 'em. And, just as string theorists propose, I’m convinced they exist in about 12 dimensions.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about Geneva streets. Our brewing batch of late-winter potholes is nothing compared to the bottomless pits I ran into back in my Rogers Park days. When I’m feeling especially adventurous, I like to gather up my spelunking gear, head down to Montrose Avenue near Lake Shore Drive, and try to recover that Datsun B210 I lost in a Chicago pothole back in the '80s. I managed to survive that one by finally coming out the other side in Skokie.

Hmmmm. Perhaps Fermilab might want to consider the possibility that some potholes are actually terrestrial wormholes. But we digress.

We know the actual recipe for a pothole goes something like this. Take a healthy dollop of Tri-Cities snow. Add heat (a 40 degree day will do) so the snow melts into the cracks in the pavement. Expose that pavement to a deep freeze, add traffic and voila! The inevitable ice dislodges the pavement and a steady stream of traffic does the rest.

Given our massive meltdown and sub-freezing overnight temperatures, we’re poised to reap a bumper crop of these nefarious tire traps. Not wanting to lose yet another vehicle, I called our esteemed mayor, Kevin Burns, who told me, as soon as snow removal is no longer a priority, city workers will turn their attention to sprucing up the 90 or so miles of Geneva roadways.

“Our upcoming budget season provides us the opportunity to fix streets that need repair and improvements,” the mayor said. “Staff will be reviewing city streets and those bearing the heaviest pedestrian and vehicle traffic will get priority.”

So if, like Fisher Drive, your thoroughfare is starting to look a little holey (and we don’t mean craters that look like Jesus), give your alderman or the city a buzz and they’ll be happy to add it to the list.

But back to our quantum quandaries. There’s also a theoretical concept in physics called a “white hole.” You guessed it! Unlike the black sheep of the family that eats matter, white holes emit it. If these phenomena do exist, they would lend credence to Hoyle’s discredited steady state universe theory.

And I think I’ve found an example of a white hole right here in Geneva! Directly in the Third Street crosswalk between and , there’s a pot-hump. Yes! Instead of a hole in the pavement, there’s a growing bulge. And if a pothole is nothing more than a black hole, then this pot-hump must be a white hole.

I’m thinking: tourist attraction!

On the other hand, it could be some Michael Bay-esque robotic creature bent on global domination slowly working it’s way out from under the pavement. I think I’ll go hide in a pothole.

John Gotti February 23, 2011 at 03:21 PM
Do you ever have any positive things to write about???? Do you wake up each morning and think about some garbage to write about???? Why don't you do ALL of us a favor and move back to Rogers Park because WE don't want you here. GET A LIFE
Jeff Ward February 23, 2011 at 04:18 PM
Next time you write, why don't you tell us how you really feel. You're being far too subtle!
Kyla Keime February 23, 2011 at 05:03 PM
There's a nice patch of potholes creeping up at the entrance to Fuller's Gas Station. As if my van needed another reason to go in for more work - BAM, pothole!

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