Dear Timmy!

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The archive of Dear Timmy Greatness!!

Can we hear the sun?

Dear Timmy,

If sound could travel through space like it travels through air, would we be able to hear the Sun from Earth?

Sincerely,
Matt Squirrell, UK, Middle Earth

Dear Matt,

Well, I suppose I could give you all the standard scientific mumbo-jumbo about how 3.86e33 ergs per second at an intensity of about 1370 watts per square meter should result in a distance of a little over 93 million miles before it drops below the hearing threshold (which is, conveniently enough, the average distance between the Earth and the Sun), depending on the temperature and density of the hypothetical air that you are positing that space would be like, but I'm sure you know all that already, so I won't bore you with those details. I think your question actually hinges on a less widely known (and less widely studied) area of astrophysics. To wit, how loud can the sun scream?

Now, obviously, if the sun were whispering, we certainly would not be able to hear it. Even speaking in a conversational tone, given the 8.3 light second distance, would not be sufficient. The sun is going to have to have to give us a real lung-buster before we have a serious chance of hearing it. And, with a lung capacity of 250 billion atmospheres at its core, it should be able to really belt one out. However, this ignores the most crucial fact in the proceedings, which is that it has been empirically demonstrated that in space, no one can hear you scream (cf. The Colbert Report, 5/8/2008). QED: no, we could not hear the sun.

In closing, I would like to note that you might conclude from the preceding that we at ThinkGeek must have been unable to hear Pluto's comments regarding the IAU's 2006 decision to revoke its planetary status. However, special robotic monkey ears were employed for that purpose, so it constitutes an exception to the rule. Also, I should note that I believe Dave Barry would point out here that Sunscream would be an excellent name for a rock band.

-- Timmy

Who would win in a light saber battle?

Dear Timmy,

Who would win in a light saber battle, Walt Whitman or Ernest Hemingway?

Sincerely,
Ayman
Lexington, Kentucky, US, Earth?

Dear Ayman,

I'm glad you asked; I get this one all the time and I'm happy to finally have a chance to put it to bed.

Now, you would think that Hemingway would have the clear advantage, given both his wartime experience (having been in WWI and WWII, not to mention the Spanish Civil War) and his rough and ready image, whereas Whitman was raised a Quaker and liked to write about the beauty of grass. But let's not rule out Whitman just yet. He too did his time in a war zone--he worked as a nurse during the Civil War.

More importantly, Whitman was a mystic, often proclaimed as a transcendentalist, while Hemingway was a modernist with a very spare writing style. Think about it: does Yoda sound more like he belongs in "Big Two-Hearted River" or "O Captain! My Captain!"? Wielding a lightsaber is more about channeling the Force than swinging a sword, and I'm guessing the guy who said "the unseen is proved by the seen, till that becomes unseen and receives proof in its turn" might have a bit of an advantage in that department.

But in the end, of course, what it really comes down to is that Whitman had more midi-chlorians than Hemingway. Everybody knows that in all Whitman's podraces with Oscar Wilde, Wilde got spanked.

Hope that clears it up for you!

-- Timmy

Why does Tokyo not have anti-godzilla defenses?

Dear Timmy,

Why does Tokyo not have anti-godzilla defenses installed by now? They should have them running round the clock!

Sincerely,
Jeff
Katy, Texas, USA, Earth, Alternate Dimension (A)

Dear Jeff,

This has long been a sore point within the Japanese government. The LDP maintained for many years that the enormous cost associated with anti-Godzilla defenses made them untenable, while the SDP (at that time still known as the JSP) countered that the LDP was attempting to put a price on the lives of Tokyoans (or Tokyoites, or whatever they are called). Of course, the problem is that the primary base of the LDP, which has been in power in the Japanese legislative branch since 1955, is the rural farmer, who is rarely impacted directly when Tokyo is destroyed. And the power of the populist SDP has waned considerably. The primary opposition party now is the DPJ, who is only recently beginning to take up the cry against Godzilla.

For a brief time in the early seventies, there was actually a "No Gojira Party", but it gained little following; despite the ravages of Godzilla, as well as Gigan, Hedora, and Mechagodzilla, Tokyo actually was not destroyed between 1975 and 1984 (sometimes known as "The Quiet Monster Times"), so the NGP lost favor.

In the late eighties, after the return of Godzilla and a few more devastations of Japan's capital city, some attempt at anti-Godzilla measures were actually begun. Unfortunately, they were destroyed by Godzilla in 1989 when he was fighting that giant mutated rosebush or whatever that was. There was another attempt to revitalize the project in the early nineties, but these results were destroyed by King Ghidrah in 1991. After that Tokyo was being destroyed once a year until 1995 or so, so they eventually just gave up.

Recently there has been much talk of bringing back the concept of defense networks against Godzilla and other rampaging monsters, but surprisingly the concepts don't usually get off the ground before being killed in committee. Some political analysts have surmised that the residents of Tokyo are just used to being destroyed by now and see it as inevitable.

Hope that answers your question!

-- Timmy

How do D & D Players procreate?

Dear Timmy,

How do D & D Players procreate?

Sincerely,
Jay
Allentown, Pennsylvania, USA, Earth

Dear Jay,

Well, according to the Complete Guide to Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, the male and female both make fertility rolls (77% chance if they are human, modified by Constitution) and if both are successful, conception has occurred. The chances can of course be reduced by various means, such as by using a +5 Sheepskin of Containment.

After conception, of course, the woman should refrain from excessive instances of casting spells, using psionics, or traveling to other planes of reality, because these could pose dangers to her unborn child. How much is too much? Well, no one really knows. While you shouldn't panic about a spell or two cast before you knew you were pregnant, you should stop casting immediately once you discover you're rolling for two.

Important note! Use of our Shirt of Smiting to increase your THIAC0(*) is *not* recommended! Please use our shirts responsibly.

(*) To Hit It Armor Class 0

-- Timmy

I heard that Pluto is no longer a planet...

Dear Timmy,

I heard that Pluto is no longer a planet... why not? Who made that decision?

Sincerely,
Jim
Export, Pennsylvania, USA, Earth

Dear Jim,

This has primarily to do with the fact that the first eight planets (with the exception of Earth, which is of course super-special) are all Roman gods, while Pluto is a cartoon dog. Poor Pluto never really fit in with the rest of the crowd. They let him hang around because they felt sorry for him, but there's no denying Pluto is just ... different.

Pluto has a funky orbit, for one--it constantly leaps in front of Neptune (for 13-20 years of its 248 year trip around the sun), in a desperate attempt to become the eighth planet. Also, while the other planets circle around the sun in a fairly flat plane, Pluto's orbit is tilted (an astronomer would say that Pluto's orbit is inclined 17 degrees above the ecliptic, but that's just because astronomers feel they're not give you your money's worth if they use a boring word like "tilted"). Plus Pluto can't figure out if he's orbiting his moon or his moon orbits him, which makes some astronomers call Pluto and Charon "binary planets" (not to be confused with "binary people").

The reason Pluto finally got kicked out of the planet club, though, is because of Eris, who you may recall is the Greek goddess of discord. Eris was discovered in 2005, orbiting the sun out past Pluto, and she's bigger than Pluto. So people started to say, "if little dorky _Pluto_ is a planet, why isn't Eris one?" Frankly, the IAU (which is the International Astronomical Union--i.e., the guys in charge of deciding who gets in and who doesn't) was concerned about a lawsuit. So, some guys from Uruguay submitted a proposal to IAU specifying the exact rules for who could and couldn't be a planet. In their proposal, not only would Eris get to be a planet, but so would Charon and Ceres (who was briefly allowed into the planet club back in the 1800's, but then got kicked to the asteroid curb). But then Eris tossed her golden apple into the proceedings, and the proposal got revised, and revised again, and on the last day of voting (when most of the sympathetic astronomers had already gone home), Pluto ended up getting kicked out. After interviewing Pluto for its reaction, we here at ThinkGeek even made a T-shirt about it.

The stated reason was that the IAU was worried about a whole bunch of other "planets" getting discovered, and, you know, what good is an exclusive club if you just let everyone in? Besides, who wants to deal with "My very educated mother just served us nine pizzas" changing into "My very educated mother couldn't just serve us noodle pizza, 'cause ... eewww!!"

-- Timmy

Why do stormtroopers suck?

Dear Timmy,

I was watching Star Wars the other night, and began to wonder something. Stormtroopers are clones of Jango Fett. Boba Fett is also a clone of him. Given that, why is it that stormtroopers can't manage to hit anything when they shoot, but Boba can?

Sincerely,
Mat
Woodend, Victoria, Australia, Earth

Dear Mat,

This is simply a case of good-guy-physics vs. bad-guy-physics. Good guys always hit what they aim at, often with a minimum number of shots, and bad guys can't hit the broad side of a barn (particularly if the barn contains good guys). To demonstrate the truth of this, take a look at _Attack of the Clones_. In this movie, the stormtroopers are good guys, and they hit large quantities of Count Dooku's allies. Once they have been co-opted by Sidious and Vader, however, they immediately begin to suck, and by the time they get around to chasing Luke and Han down the corridors of the Deathstar, they regularly have difficulty hitting the walls.

Now, Boba Fett is a different case, which requires the application of an entirely separate branch of bad-guy-physics. This branch is roughly equivalent to fluid dynamics in that chaos theory is a factor. Bad guys who have proper names can _sometimes_ hit what they aim at, depending on complex laws governed by butterfly wings in China, which side of a paleobotanist's hand a drop of water will roll down, and most importantly, the desired plot outcome. Just as apparently random events can be mapped to form beautiful patterns known as fractals, the hit ratio of bad guys with proper names will, when viewed from far enough away, form a pattern (in this case, George Lucas' scripts, which may or may not be considered a beautiful thing, depending on your age at the time Episode IV was released and how you feel about Jar Jar Binks).

As an interesting side note, the Star Wars movies demonstrate several other principles of bad-guy-physics, including the Law of Conservation of Evil (which is why one Sith Lord always has to die before you can get another one), and temporal anomalies (cf. Han Shot First).

Hope that clears it up!

-- Timmy

Indestructible Kryptonite

Dear Timmy,

If Kryptonite is indestructable, why did Planet Kryton blow up?

Just curious.

Joey
Madisonville, Wisconsin, USA, Earth

Dear Joey,

Thanks for your question!

This is a common misconception. The planet Krypton was not in fact composed of kryptonite. Rather, all surviving chunks of Krypton were turned _into_ kryptonite by the nuclear chain reaction that destroyed the planet. If you think about it, this has to be true. Kryptonite is fatal to Kryptonians given sufficient exposure (well, green kryptonite is, anyway). If Krypton had been composed of kryptonite, all the Kryptonians would have died before they could even be born, and only if one of them had gotten out and spun the planet around backwards could they have ever even made it to the point where they could blow up. Which they couldn't do anyway, because their sun was red. So obviously Krypton wasn't composed of kryptonite.

Besides, kryptonite isn't magnetic like Uber Orbs, so obviously it isn't as cool, indestructible or not.

-- Timmy