7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 83)

June 4, 2010 | 81 comments

— 1 —

Last week I asked you guys what you were reading (and, as usual, my Amazon wish list grew by quite a bit). Here’s my current book stack. Some I’m reading right now, others are up next:

— 2 —

I have decided that one day I am going to write an entire book just so that I can use this song for the book trailer. I don’t care what the plot, genre, setting or characters are, as long as they’re a good fit with the music.

— 3 —

I have a question for physics nerds (this is totally random, but it’s something I’ve been puzzling about all week and am dying for someone to explain to me): let’s say you dug a hole that went all the way through the center of the earth and came out the other side. I know, it’s logistically impossible, but let’s just say you could do it. My question is: if you threw something down the hole, at what point would it stop falling? Would it swing up toward the hole on the other side, then eventually just hang there in the middle? I need someone to explain this to me so that I can sleep at night.

— 4 —

While I’m at it, here’s another thing I’ve always wondered about: what’s up with dragons? I mean, how is it that so many cultures throughout history have described a reptilian creature that breathes fire? I’ve often wondered about that, i.e. did one tribe of people originate the concept and it spread to other places? Or was there once some animal that had some dragon-esque traits that existed in multiple parts of the world? (Yes, this is what I think about while I’m folding laundry.)

— 5 —

I was surprised that the main take to my post from Monday about the whole scorpion/toilet incident seemed to be that I had a really clean toilet. As I mentioned on Twitter, if you ever see pictures from my house that make any part of it look impressively clean, you should assume that Photoshop was probably involved. I actually didn’t doctor this picture (though it is a mystery as to why it looked so good — there must be some natural cleaning agent in the water around here) but believe me, I am not above it!

— 6 —

Speaking of which, Malia left an awesome comment to that post, a little rhyme to the tune of the Beverly Hillbillies song. I just had to share:

Come and listen to a story about a girl named Jen
A strong Texas lass, stood more than five-feet ten,
But then one day she was walkin’ past the loo,
And saw something there, some strange lookin’ poo.

Scorpion, that is
Black and gold
Stop and scream.

Well the first thing you know ol Jen’s pullin’ her hair,
She yells, “Hey, Yaya! Did you put that thing in there??”
She says, “Down the sewer is the place it’s gonna be,
But first Iโ€™ll take a picture for posterity!”

Blog, that is
Toilet clean.

Well now it’s time to say goodbye to Jen’s arachnid friends.
They just like to freak her out so they keep droppin’ in.
But we’re all invited back again to Jen’s locality,
To have a heapin’ helpin’ of her blog hilarity!

Scorpions, that is. Set a spell. Take your shoes off.
(But ya’ll think twice about that, y’hear?)

— 7 —

I’m impressed: programmer and convert Eric Sammons wrote a program that took all the blogs from the Catholic Blog Directory, found their Google Reader subscriber numbers and then ranked them. You can see the results here. I think it’s probably best that I don’t know how he did that (I’m guessing Perl script?). I would spend waaaaaay too much time creating my own little programs like that.

Below is a Mr. Linky list if you’d like to add a link to your own 7 Quick Takes post. (1) Make sure the link you submit is to the URL of your post and not your main blog URL. (2) Include a link back here.

I look forward to reading your posts!

1. Kristen @ St Monica’s Bridge
2. Rose @ Adventures in Savings
3. Tami @ The Next Step
4. It Feels Like Chaos
5. DarwinCatholic
6. Lady Caitie (Funny Edition!)
7. Angie @ Many Little Blessings
8. Fomerly Gracie
9. Defend Us In Battle!
10. Erin @ Seven Little Australians Plus One
11. DebbieQ @ stop her she’s knitting
12. daniel @ the 832
13. Mary @ Hope Echoes
14. Carolyn @ Girl With a Watering Can
15. becomewhatyouare
16. Michelle aka Catholic lady
17. Mostly cakes@So much to say, so little time
18. Flowers Round The Cross
19. Melanie @ The Wine Dark Sea
20. Catholic Mutt
21. Colleen
22. Betty Beguiles
23. Sarah @ This Heavenly Life
24. Judy @ A Thankful Woman’s Book of Blessings
25. Nadja @ Patch O’ Dirt Farm
26. Anne
27. Tracy@The Secret of Living
28. Suz@One of Five
29. Elena @MyDomestic Church
30. Mama Fuss
31. Joy@ joy in the morning
32. Zoom: Things I Heard This Week
33. That Married Couple
34. Cassidy @ Praying Through Chaos
35. Amy @ A Call to Adventure
36. Chelsea @ Roots & Rings
37. TeacherMommy
38. Karen S. @ Imitation of Mary
39. Sara @ A Shower of Roses
40. Kelly @ Leap Of Faith
41. Peony Moss
42. violingirl
43. Jess @ One Wild and Precious Life
44. Liesl @ The Spiritual Workout
45. Steph&Bogdan
46. Kam @ Nap Wars
47. Milehiama @ Mama Says
48. Elisa @ ElisaLoves
49. The Bipolar Beauty Queen
50. Barbara C.@Box of Chocolates
51. michiel@ Landscapes and Portraits
52. Sarah @ Simple Pleasures
53. byzymom
54. Mrs. Bubbles
55. Terri@TheVeryLatestThing
56. Jordana @ Curmudgeonry
57. Jamie @ A Rough Diamond
58. Curious Notions
59. Matching Moonheads
60. Lisa (Are We There Yet?)
61. Ranee @ Arabian Knits
62. majellamom
63. Sarah @ Passing for Normal
64. Gillian – Life of a Photographer
65. Katherine @ Having Left the Altar
66. Monica @ Easy From Now On
67. How Are the Harmons?
68. annies home –
69. Monica @ And I’ll Raise You 5
70. Vacation Edition @ Young Mom
71. Roxanna@Randomestic Tales
72. Petroni
73. Amy @ From the Desk of Mom
74. Mindyleigh @ The Devout Life
75. Queen of Carrots
76. Amongst Lovely Things
77. Catherine @ Adventures In Domesticity
78. Cheryl
79. SpitFire
80. Salome Ellen
81. Sarah @ Fumbling Toward Grace
82. Jill@ClearestGlimpse
83. Katie @ Chronicles of KT
84. Pepper
85. Leah @ Unequally Yoked
86. Andrea @ Running with Perseverance
87. Sharon @Musings of a Catholic Mom
88. Alice @ Accidental Grad Student
89. Sweetums5
90. alexis @ texas twosome
91. Kathy @ The Political Housewyf

Powered by… Mister Linky’s Magical Widgets.


  1. Rose Atwater

    Two things…first, I too was impressed with the cleanliness of your toilet! I have 5 small kiddos in the house and my toilets don't look that clean, even when they ARE clean.

    Second, I'm reading The Shack. I may have missed it, but have you read it? Have you heard of it? I'm about a third of the way through and I just don't know what to think about it right now. I'm curious of your thoughts on it if you have read it.

  2. Tami Boesiger

    I LOVE the scorpion song. Classic for your blog!

  3. Jaimie

    I like physics, although I'm not uber-educated in it. I would guess momentum would carry the ball past the point of gravity, then gravity would slow it, pull it back, then the ball would fly up again, falling back… and again and again until eventually it "hovered" there… NOT in the middle of the air, but on the side of the hole where the earth is the densest. If the earth is equally dense on both sides… I have no idea. ๐Ÿ˜›

    That's my guess.

  4. Jackie

    Hi Jennifer, I can't answer your physics question but I know there's the story of Bel and the dragon in the Septuagint. It was a pagan deity that was worshipped . Daniel slays the Dragon-god by putting into its mouth cakes made of pitch, fat, and hair, after eating which it bursts asunder.

    That rhyme is awesome! and congratulations on your ranking . I saw that while I was on Patrick Madrids blog . You are way up there !

  5. P

    3. If you ignored air resistance (and any other form of friction), then the object would stop falling when it came out of the hole on the other side at the exact same height that it was dropped from on "this" side. It would, of course, immediately begin falling again, until it returned to its original position, and so on ad infinitum.

    Bonus fun fact: *any* straight tunnel between any two points on earth (say, Austin TX and London, ENG) would have the same property, whether it went through the center of the earth or not.

    Bonus fun fact #2: any such trip through any such tunnel (from sea level to sea level) would always take exactly the same amount of time (roughly 45 minutes).

    4. I'm guessing Satan.

  6. Alisa

    LOVED the music!!!

    As for the dragon thing, the general consensus I understood was that the last surviving dinosaurs were the impetus for the dragon legends. Makes sense to me.

    Don't ask me about physics though. ;^)

  7. TRS

    Oh my heck… the Beverly Hillbilly's recap is a riot!!!!!

    NICE work. She puts me to shame… I no longer think I'm funny.

  8. Formerly Gracie

    That song is HILARIOUS!

    I participated on 7 takes for the first time ever today. Yea! I don't know if it's what you intended, but it's my terrible day in small doses.

  9. Joe (Defend Us In Battle)

    I really enjoy doing 7QTs, but I think I spend more time on that post than almost any other one I do.

  10. Mary

    My spiritual director has suggested that I read Letting Go by Morrie Schwartz (Tuesdays With Morrie, the book has a different title now). I am awaiting its arrival from Amazon.

    Loved the song.

  11. Carolyn

    I am by no means a physics nerd, but my guess is that it would stop somewhere near the center of the earth, where the center of the gravitational pull is.
    Good question about dragons! I'd love to know the answer to this, too!
    Love the Beverly Hillbillies parody! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Carrie

    Re: #3….
    I'm by no means a physics nerd, but I saw this subject discussed on TV at one point. Magic School Bus? A documentary? Who knows. Anyway, their case was that it would fall through *almost* to the other side, then oscillate back and forth in smaller swings until it hit stasis right in the core.

    Re: #4….
    Ever read anything by Ken Ham? Check out _Already Gone_ if you haven't already. He also discusses the dragon legends worldwide; his argument is that they are likely based on dinosaurs. He also has an interested reference to a couple of places in the Bible where they could theoretically be talking about dinosaurs (the behemoth in Job, for one). Interesting to think about, anyway!

    I immediately noticed your clean toilet, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Julie C

    You should check out the books by Michael O'Brien.
    He is a Catholic writer from Canada who writes kind of apocalyptic novels. His Father Elijah is probably the one you would want to read first.

  14. Suburban Correspondent

    According to my 13 and 10 year-old sons (the latter is a physics/aeronautics geek, the former an earth science lover), the ball would shoot past the center (momentum), but then (because the earth's center of gravity is at the middle) it would go back, past the center, not as far. Picture a pendulum, describing smaller and smaller arcs. Eventually, it would settle in the center. David (the 13-year-old) drew me a nice diagram, too.

    I don't totally get it; but my kids are smarter than I am when it comes to science. Waaaay smarter…

  15. Michelle

    I love your list of books. Surprised to see you tackling some fiction…that was something I had wondered about since when you usually discuss books, faith and non-fiction seem to be a favorite for you (and for me, as well!)

    Have a blessed Friday.

  16. Kathleen@so much to say, so little time

    And I just know every one of us clicked on that list and looked to see if our blogs were on it! (Mine wasn't.) My husband says I'm too eclectic in my posting. Oh well. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. Leah

    Hi Jen,

    With regard to your physics question (3), it would depend on how fast the the projectile was being accelerated.

    (note for the less geeky: acceleration is the result of applying force to an object. If you throw a ball, you are not still accelerating it once it leaves your hand. Absent acceleration, an object keeps moving in the same direction as previously, with the same speed).

    So, assuming you dropped the object, the only force acting on it is the gravitational force of the earth's mass. That force will cause a constant acceleration (meaning the object will fall faster and faster as it plumments).

    The earth needs to be pulling hard enough on the projectile so that that force can negate whatever velocity the projectile has already.

    If you look at the formula for gravitational force,
    Force = (mass of first object)*(mass of second object)*(Gravitational constant/(distance between objects)^2

    As the projectile approaches the core, the distance between it and the earth gets closer and closer to zero. Therefore, the force of attraction is closer and closer to infinity. The mass can't escape out the other end of the hole, even temporarily.


  18. Dani

    Hi Jen,

    I'm a Year 12 student from Sydney Australia so i'm not really a physics nerd.
    However we did talk about exactly your question in class last year.
    Our class theory is that it would just hang in the middle. Everything is attracted to the centre of an object and hence so would the 'something'. Also note that when it reaches the centre it'll stay there, because it will be continually falling towards the centre. Like say, the hole was made from the north to the south pole, it would fall towards the centre, even if it was thrown from the south pole. It would get to the centre of the Earth and just stay there.

    I hope i've managed to give you a goodnights rest ! if not, sorry for wasting your time =S

    Dani =)

    P.S I'm a young catholic who draws religious strength from your blogs so thank you !

  19. Tom L


    I'm sure you've googled this and found lots of answers online. Most conclude that the object would oscillate from one side of the earth to the other, but they're greatly simplifying the problem (e.g., they ignore the rotation of the earth). The best detailed discussion I've seen is in a book called "Hesiod's Anvil: Falling and Spinning through Heaven and Earth" by Andrew J. Simoson. He solves it under a variety of assumptions (see chapters 2, 7, and 8).

  20. Theresa

    The hole would kinda crush in on itself. But if it did exist, and it went through the absolute center of mass of the Earth,

    The item dropped would go past center due to momentum and then gradually slow down and turn around like when you toss a ball in the air and it falls back to the ground. Then the item would go a little past center in the opposite direction, slow and turn around again and keep repeating with smaller distances past center until it rested in the center.

  21. TaraS

    I remember hearing that an object would fall almost all the way through to the other side, then start back the other way…decreasing its journey each time until eventually it was stationary at the center.

    My husband and I also had a theory about dragona, but getting up too often at 4:30 or 5:00 has made me forget what it was!


  22. Owner of Homeschool Faith and Family Life Website

    WOW! Malia is one talented lady!

  23. Bailey

    re: dragons
    What I learned (from podcasts! isn't that what my itouch is for?) is that dragon-like creatures were present in many cultures, and as these peoplegroups came into contact with each other, the concepts were slightly altered over time until we have the basic kinds of dragons we now think of when we hear the word.

  24. Sara

    In re: dragons, I figure that it has to do with the serpent in the Garden–that the serpent's original form was closer to our mythical dragons than snakes. That would also help to explain the number of dragon stories that have dragons being (as Tolkien might put it) tricksy. "The serpent was more crafty than any other beast . . . "

  25. cindy kay

    About dragons: I've always thought there must have been a real creature at some time, and for evidence I give you Job chapter 41. God himself describes a creature he calls "Leviathan." Here's an excerpt (from the Jerusalem Bible):

    "His nostrils belch smoke like a cauldron boiling on the fire. His breath could kindle coals, so hot a flame issues from his mouth."

    Read the whole chapter. If you're like me, you'll be fascinated.

  26. That Married Couple

    Malia is my new hero.

  27. R


    Dinosaurs!!! I don't know why people persist in claiming dragons are mythological when you can see their bones in museums. Woo!


  28. Wendy

    Hi, Jen! Thanks for the quick takes! Re: Dragons, I think the core of the cross-culture belief is the existence of dinosaur bones. It's interesting that some cultures took them to be threatening (and therefore linked with evil) and some saw them as guardian spirits.

    I'm not actually a physics junkie, but I play one in my home school and I think the ball would behave similarly to the way a ball does when you roll it into a bowl. It rolls to the bottom and then it's momentum brings it up the other side – back and forth until all of it's kinetic and potential energy is spent. Just a guess!

    I don't fold laundry anymore, but that's the kind of thing I think about while weeding the garden!

  29. Katie O.

    Wow, I really hope someone answers #3 for you, because I've never thought about that before, but now it's driving me crazy! I'm imagining it might be like when you're able to make an object hover between two magnets because it's attracted to both, since it would be attracted to the mass of earth on either side of the tunnel?

    As for #4, I've heard the theory that it was the existence of dinosaur bones – before people knew what dinosaurs were – that led people to imagine giant reptilian creatures (because, really, dinosaurs ARE dragons, aren't they? Just without the fire). Or maybe they just saw this guy: http://www.mokelembembe.com

  30. Cmerie

    I'm not 100% sure on this, but pretty close. Because the gravity vector (think of it as an arrow) points toward the center of the earth, and the earth is kind of a sphere with gravity vectors all around it pointing towards the center of the earth, if something were to fall down the hole, logic says it would stop in the center of the earth.

    And I've always wondered about the dragons too.

  31. Veronica Mitchell

    Don't know if you've read it, but if you are looking for fiction, try Graham Greene's End of the Affair. I read it for the first time this year, and it is one of the most powerful religious novels I've ever read. (And it's short.)

  32. Charlotte

    If I'm correct, scientists believe that "dragons" are actually large crocodile-type animals that were found in China, living in rivers. Some of them now extinct(?) and possibly there are some other varieties still out there – relatives of the crocodile (there's one animal I'm thinking of and I can't think of the name of it.) Anyway, bascially, dragon=crocodile.

  33. Ouiz

    First of all, I've been telling Malia for years that she needs to get a blog going. She's hysterical!

    OK, about the "falling through the center of the earth" thing — funny you should mention it, because it was on NOVA just last week! (it was a kids' segment) According to the scientist they had on, I believe he said that you'd accelerate until just before you got to the center of the earth, and then you'd slow down, but you'd actually make it to the other side (decelerating the whole time), and then gravity would start pulling you back the other way, so it would be a back and forth sort of thing if you didn't have someone to help you out! If I'm remembering correctly, I think he said your entire trip would take 42 minutes.

  34. Karyn

    With the dragon thing, I always figured people had come across dinosaur fossils and then came up with dragons to explain them…

  35. fumblingtowardgrace

    I'm not a physics expert, but I think if you threw something into a hole that went to the center of the earth, it would probably melt as it got close to the earth's molten core.

    That rhyme/song is hilarious! Thanks for sharing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  36. Robyn B. @Leave the Lights On

    Oh, oh, me, me! Call on me, teacher! I can totally answer your physics question! I'm so eager that I'm not even waiting to read the rest of your post before I leave this comment!

    Can you tell what kind of student I was in school? That's right, the one who (unintentionally) annoyed every single other student. Sorry to all my former classmates, I didn't mean to get on your nerves.

    Okay, so the answer. Short version: it would oscillate until it eventually came to rest at the Earth's center.

    Long version: The object would accelerate as it neared the Earth's center, but the rate of acceleration would gradually slow down. At the exact center, it would no longer be accelerating, but it would still have all the velocity it had gained as it fell, so it would continue toward the other side of the earth. As it moved away from the center, it would decelerate (technically, accelerate in the opposite direction from its velocity). When it reached the other side, its velocity would be zero, and it would fall back toward the center.

    If gravity were the only force involved, this process would repeat indefinitely. But in the real world, the tiny effects of other forces (some of them at the molecular level) would cause the oscillation to slow down. So gradually, the object would travel shorter and shorter distances on each pass until it came to rest at the exact center. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics explains this.

    It's a lot like a pendulum, actually. If gravity were the only force acting on a pendulum, it would keep swinging forever and would never need to be pushed or restarted. But friction at the pivot point, air resistance, and countless other forces bleed away the pendulum's momentum, so in the real world the pendulum always comes to a stop eventually.

  37. Liesl

    I'm loving the theme music.

  38. Stephanie Y.

    You know, come to think of it, you do have an exceptionally clean toilet. I might actually need to do some cleaning this weekend…

  39. Kevin

    Robyn B. has the most correct answer to your physics question.

  40. Robyn B. @Leave the Lights On

    OK, I have to share my thoughts about dragons too. I have heard literal-Genesis creationists say the original dragon is a dinosaur. (Never mind dragons don't actually look much like dinosaurs; they're more like snakes and lizards.) I think the archetype is probably snakes, which humans seem to have an instinctive fear of. What is a fire-breathing dragon, after all, but a venomous snake writ large? And actually, all the major dragon myths share one of only 2 origins: Western and Chinese. And Western and Chinese dragons are actually very different. European dragons are scary monsters with wings while Chinese dragons are wingless creatures of luck.

    Here's a book I found that might be interesting: http://books.google.com/books?id=P1uBUZupE9gC&lpg=PP1&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false

  41. 'Becca

    I love Malia's scorpion song! Thanks for posting it here; I wasn't following the comments on the other post.

    Here's what I wondered about your toilet photo: You have what my mind describes as a "pointy-throated toilet" and I have only ever cleaned "round-throated toilets". I'm talking about the shape of the drain opening. I'm planning a total bathroom renovation, and I'm finding very little information about the advantages of different types of toilets and no info at all about this particular detail. So if you (or any of your readers) have experience with both drain shapes and think one is better than the other, please give details here or to becca at earthlingshandbook dot org. (Ah, what a high-minded Godly topic…)

  42. Robyn B. @Leave the Lights On

    OK… now that I've read the other comments, I have even more to say. If I weren't so impulsive I might have done it all at once, but, hey.

    First, I notice that nobody seems willing to own up to being a physics nerd. Well, I freely admit that I'm a science nerd. I came out of the closet years ago. Actually, I'm not sure I was ever in the closet. Biology is my biggest area of nerdiness, but I'm a fan of physics too.

    Second, I made a mistake. The rate of acceleration would increase, not decrease, as the object approached the center of the earth. "Rate of acceleration" is meaningless at the actual point of the earth's center (in the equation you'd have to divide by zero).

    Third, Tom L. mentioned the rotation of the Earth, which would certainly have an effect. In fact, it has a name: Coriolis effect (sometimes incorrectly called Coriolis force). As the Earth rotates, so do the walls of the hole. But once you drop your object, it's no longer rotating with the Earth, so it would hit the side of the hole. If you were standing on the Earth and looking down the hole, the object would appear to have curved in an arc until it hit the side, but actually it's the Earth that's rotating, not the object.

    Once the object hit the side, then a lot of factors determine what happens next. A big one is the friction between the object and the wall of the hole. At this point you can think of it like an object placed on a hill. It might stay put or it might roll down the hill, depending on its shape and texture, the gradient of the hill, the surface texture of the hill, etc.

    Fourth, Wendy's analogy of a marble in a bowl is a good one, too.

    And fifth, thanks Kevin! ๐Ÿ™‚

  43. chantal

    I think dragons were a kind of dinosaure. I find it amazing that cultures with dragons, they had a similar description. Their description sounds like some kind of giant lizard. The dragon of Komodo is a lizard I wouldn't want to meet. There easily could have been some sort of dinosaure, giant lizard, ect that existed at the same time as humans. There are some weird reptiles in the world. The whole one culture found bones and invented a story which then told it to other cultures sounds very unlikely because of the similarity in descriptions.

  44. Elisa

    That Awakening to Prayer book sounds interesting. I'm glad it's out there! Will you write about it after you read it?

  45. Jamie

    I LOVE the scorpion song! What talented readers you have!

  46. thecoolmom

    I'm linking up today after a several week absence. I'm trying to get things back on track but I have figured out there isn't really a non-busy time and I'm just going to have to deal with it.

    Wow, my list is so ordinary compared to this one with scorpions and dragons and physics quandaries. LOL

  47. Kelly

    My husband is a professional physicist, so I asked him, and the answer he gave was pretty much what everyone else gave, so I'm not going to bother to type it in again.

    However, he did provide a nice illustration which might be helpful. He said to imagine a ball on the end of a spring. He said it would travel faster through the center of the earth, but then slow down toward the end of the spring as it reached the other side of the earth. It would then return to you, speeding up through the center, and then slowing down toward your side of the earth. Repeat until it came to rest at the center.

  48. Ranee @ Arabian Knits

    My husband's theory on the dragon is that it is the serpent in Eden. That is why the curse to crawl on its belly was so bad. It's a theory, though.

  49. Matt G

    Gold star for Robyn B! I would add a couple of other observations. One assumption that almost everyone has made is that the earth's density is constant throughout. Since this is not the case, very slight lateral gravitational force would pull the object toward the sides of the hole, ultimately causing it to collide and lose momentum. Depending on the shape of the object, it might end up resting just short of the exact center point.

    Secondly, due to rotational force the earth is not a perfect sphere. Therefore the only place you could dig through the exact center would be from the North Pole to the South Pole.

    Oh, and I freely admit to being a nerd!

  50. Tom L

    Since the geeks are really coming out of the woodwork now, I thought I'd add a few details from Simoson.

    He considers several different models of the earth's density. The simplest is uniform density throughout, but that doesn't realistically reflect current seismic models. His most realistic model is inner and outer cores of (different) uniform densities, and a linearly dense mantle.

    He also considers the general case of a chord between any two points on the surface, not necessarily a diameter. In the case where the hole doesn't pass through the earth's center of gravity, the object obviously wouldn't be falling straight down the hole, it would hit the side. And any path that isn't along the axis of rotation would have centripetal acceleration acting along a different vector than gravitational acceleration, so again, it wouldn't fall straight down the hole. He assumes in these cases that you're constrained to a frictionless "track".

    What he shows is that, depending on the exact endpoints you choose, the object may either not reach the other end, or may exit the hole at the other end and land somewhere outside it. For the case of simple harmonic motion back and forth, he derives formulas for the period and the speed at the center. Not surprisingly, the shortest period/fastest speed occur with paths parallel to the axis of rotation. The longest period/slowest speed occur with paths lying in the equatorial plane.

    For the record, he calculates that for a hole from pole to pole, using the most realistic density model, and ignoring air resistance, it would take 19.2 minutes to reach the center, where you would be traveling at 8.9 km/sec.

  51. Barb

    I love Malia's parody! Too funny!
    We are planning to vacation in Texas in September and I must admit as I've been planning things, I've been thinking about your scorpions and praying that we don't encounter any while we're there!

  52. Monica

    After about a year of reading them, I've decided to try my hand at your 7 Quick Takes. Thanks for hosting!

  53. Headless Mom

    Malia is brilliant. Thanks for the laugh!

  54. Monica

    I'm playing today!

  55. Young Mom

    I'll admit to being one of those people who wonder if dragons could have been some sort of dinosaur. A few of whom survived into the middle ages and then died out. Have you ever heard of the Native American story about what sounds like a giant terydactl flying off with full-grown men?

  56. Elena

    Read Michael O'Brien's Landscape with Dragons (if you haven't already) for a good take on modern and classic children's literature and the proper place of dragons. I'm pretty sure that it answers your question (re. the ubiquitous dragon) but it is also a must read in terms of guarding your children's literature.

  57. Charlotte

    FWIW, many Protestants say "The Shack" is a theologically bad book that almost comes close to denying the divinity of Christ. I've never read it, but very trustworthy sources say to avoid it.

  58. Cheryl

    I see that the physics question has already been answered, so I won't bother. ๐Ÿ˜€

    And wherever the dragon concept comes from — whether discovered fossils or what-have-you — I like 'em anyways. ๐Ÿ˜€

  59. jean

    I Have a hole in my head where science should be be so can't answer your question, but if you care to try it Jen, I'll be here in NZ to greet you! (if you aren't swinging like a pendulum.)

    And avoid The Shack. It's not real Christianity it's dressed in alluring clothes but is totally bogus.

  60. Carly

    Agree with Julie C and Elena about Michael O'Brien's books. Was going to suggest Landscape With Dragons too! You can get used copies on Amazon for less than $10!

    Would never have hazarded a guess on #3, but it did provide my hubby with a couple of hours of fun hypothesizing. Fun for him anyway . . . my eyes glazed over when mass equaled stuff times some other stuff . . .

  61. AmyRobynne

    From my husband the physics teacher:

    The force of gravity is always directed toward the center of the Earth. So you would be pulled down the hole and speed up as you fall. When you reach the exact center there would be no force acting on you at the moment (since you are AT the center) but you would be moving quite fast. After you passed the center gravity would begin to pull you BACK toward the center causing you to slow down. Because the trip back up the hole on the other side of the Earth is just like your trip down, you would continue to slow down until you finally stopped at the surface on the other side.

    Although the particulars are different, your motion would resemble a ball hanging on the end of a spring. If you pull the ball down and let go it bounces up and down centered on a point halfway between the extremes (the equilibrium position). Similarly, a person could oscillate up and down the hole passing through the center of the Earth.

  62. Marian

    Re: Dragons
    Of course Revelation speaks of a "dragon." Is it referring to something real or something only real in readers minds? Last year when studying pterosaurs with my kids (apologia- flying creatures), we discovered that many of our most revered ancient writers (such as Herodotus, Josephus, and Isaiah) described flying serpents, and descriptions are nearly always the same. Apparently many translations of the Bible do add the word "fiery" to "flying serpent" in Is. 14:29 and 30:6, while more literal ones leave it out. Herodotus describes hearing of such flying serpents in Arabia, and then going and seeing for himself massive amounts of the remains of winged serpents with forms "like that of a watersnake", with wings without feathers in a manner similar to a bat. Josephus studied many texts describing these "vicious" flying serpents. This was fascinating: Today there is a dense jungle region in Africa in which the local tribes report having seen and have drawn pictures of a creature matching the description of a pterosaur. And yes, there is reason to suspect that the massive thunderbird known in the stories handed down to carry men off in its beak-like mouth, may have been quetzalcoatlus, the giant of the perodactyloids.
    Those things and so much more evidence do definitely poke big holes in the dogma that humans and dinosaurs did not co-exist. The addition of "fire-breathing" is not something possible to see in a fossil, but if the ancients described our "fossils" with such consistent detail, the fire-breathing may very well have been a part of the package… or maybe not! In my mind, though, massive pterosaurs may well be "dragons."

  63. JL

    Besides Job, which was mentioned by a previous commenter, Herodotus speaks matter-of-factly of the existence of โ€œflying snakesโ€ in Arabia that โ€œresemble watersnakes; their wings are not feathrered, but are like a batโ€™s.โ€ (Herodotus, Book II, Sect. 75). These animals were small enough to be preyed upon by ibises, which were reverenced by the Egyptians for that reason.

    Interestingly, the dragon is one of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac, and every other animal is a commonplace, every day animal: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. While not proof that dragons were considered as real as the other eleven animals, it does support the hypothesis that the Chinese saw real dragons, as is also supported by their intense dragon iconography.

    Other interesting facts;

    In Angkor Wat, Cambodia there is a carving of a stegosaurus-like animal (http://creation.com/angkor-saw-a-stegosaur)
    There are widespread stories of flying lizard-like animals in Native American legend (http://creation.com/thunderbirds)
    There are apparent dinosaur motifs on the tombstone brass of Bishop Richard Bell (d. 1410), Carlisle Cathedral, UK (http://creation.com/bishop-bells-brass-behemoths)
    In the Church of Low Ham, Somerset, England, there is a nine foot spear that is said to be the one used by a John Aller to kill a dragon which had been poisoning crops and trees and was very fond of milk. (http://beehive.thisisbristol.com/default.asp?WCI=SiteHome&ID=7602&PageID=40529) Somerset is particularly rich in dragon tales, and borders Wales, whose symbol is a red dragon, another region known for dragon lore.
    Author Marie Trevelyan in a 1973 book, "Folklore and Folk Stories of Wales," tells of an old man who spoke of small, sparkling dragons, who were real, and who were killed by his father and uncles because they were "as bad as foxes for poultry." (http://books.google.com/books?id=zmYHrsC6cYIC&printsec=frontcover&dq=Marie+Trevelyan&source=bl&ots=e81CzjnALm&sig=LGH0ZmEQINEq557Uz-Ignjus0-4&hl=en&ei=n6cJTJCaJoT78AaaoOiOBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CCgQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=dragon&f=false, p. 169)

    Hereโ€™s a good summary from Yahoo answers of human and dragon encounters: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090611182326AAnWCuK

  64. Marian

    Oh! And, more than just stories, there are many native American pictographs of pterosaurs– living, fleshed out creatures and not just skeletons– in the kind of perfect detail only possible from eye-witness, made long before the scientific "discovery" and classification of pterosaurs.

  65. Jaibee

    I am a physics nerd, and I agree with Suburban Correspondent's theory, not including the earth's rotation (which could be negated as a factor depending upon which axis you drilled your hole). ๐Ÿ™‚

    As for dragon, doesn't one translation of the Bible call the serpent in the garden of Eden a dragon? And again with the dragon in Revelation?

  66. JL

    Whoops, sorry, the copyright on the Marie Trevelyan book is 1909, not 1973. Makes more sense with the dating of the story.

  67. Sam

    I would like to hear your take on Joan Ball's book. I just finished reading it, and wasn't that impressed – okay, that sounds mean when it comes to someone's spiritual walk. I think it was just not as well written as I hoped. But, since y'all have similar backgrounds, it would great to hear your take.

    Also, the dragon information in the comments has been FASCINATING! I've never really thought about dragons in so much depth!

  68. Sharon

    Congrats on making #4 on the top blogs list! ๐Ÿ™‚

  69. Dawn by Design

    That Hillbillies song is FABULOUS!

  70. JL

    Marian, do you have any websites or citations on the Native American flying reptile pictographs?


  71. Sweetums5


    Loved your Beverly Hillbillies ryhme! Thanks for your booklist — the first 2 books especially sound interesting. And thanks for letting us know about the Catholic Blog Directory ranking. How wonderful to see yours at 4th place! I just started my blog 3 weeks ago and can only hope to achieve what you've done. I am also linking for the 1st time here at 7 Quick Takes. Thanks for your great ideas! God bless!


  72. Flexo

    As many have noted, there would be a pendulum effect.

    Similarly, this is how objects orbit in space — Orbits are elliptical, not circular, with the smaller object "falling" around the larger object, with a velocity that increases until it passes the midpoint (perigee), then slows until it reaches the furtherest point (apogee), when it increases (again, like a pendulum).

  73. Kelly

    Um, guys, have any of you actually read Herodotus? He is revered, but he liked to tell a good story. He "personally witnessed" all kinds of crazy things. Rains of blood, etc.

  74. Chris

    Another cool physics problem. Let's say that two rocket ships start out in high earth orbit next to each other. Then they accelerate to the speed of light "Star Trek style" (which is to say almost instantaneously) going away from the earth in opposite directions from each other at the speed of light, which is to say about 300,000 kilometers per second. At the end of a minute, each ship would be a light-minute (about 18,000,000 kilometers) away from the earth, again in opposite directions from each other.

    The question is this: how far away are the ships from each other? The intuitive answer is 2 light minutes away from each other, or about 36,000,000 kilometers.

    The intuitive answer is, of course, wrong. If the ships traveled away from each other in such a way that the distance between them increased by 2 light-minutes in the space of a minute, then the relative velocity of each with respect to the other is twice the speed of light. Such a circumstance violates General Relativity and could not be true. The actual answer is that space-time bends and each is 18,000,000 kilometers away from each other and also 18,000,000 kilometers away from the earth.

    How does this look in space-time? No clue. but it's true.

  75. JL

    Good point, Kelly. I did some research and saw that Herodotus was castigated by contemporaries for fanciful tales, and in addition to being called the "Father of History," is also called the "Father of Lies." I also know that I am more likely to take seriously data that support my thesis rather than the opposite. I still think in this particular case that there is a germ of truth in Herodotus' report. The Wikipedia article on him shows how modern research is backing up some of his apparently fanciful tales, and Number 21:6-9 tells of "fiery serpents" (Douay-Rheims, Vulgate: ignitos serpentes) attacking the Israelites near the Arabah Valley between Sinai and modern Israel. Isaiah 30:6 speaks of "the burden of the beasts of the south," including "the flying basilisk" (Douay Rheims). Herodotus says, "when the winged snakes fly to Egypt from Arabia in spring, the ibises meet them at the entrance to the pass and do not let them get through, but kill them. Buto (modern Tell El Fara'in), the location where Herodotus saw the bones of the winged snakes, is less than 20 miles from the Sinai peninsula. All circumstantial, to be sure, but quite fascinating all the same.

  76. JL

    My mistake again–I rechecked the location of Buto, and it's about 40-50 miles from the Sinai peninsula.

  77. Flexo

    The question is this: how far away are the ships from each other?

    Chris — I think that you are conflating two different, albeit related, concepts.

    In the first part of your example, you are speaking entirely about distance. But then in the second part of your example, you switch it up and speak of velocity. And then you make the error of applying these two different things to the same situation. That is, you are comparing apples to oranges.

    If the distance of each is 18,000,000 kilometers away from the earth, then the distance from each other, from an absolute perspective, is (18+18 =) 36,000,000 kilometers. HOWEVER, it will appear to the people on each ship that the other is only 18,000,000. However, that appearance (from the relative perspective of each ship) is an optical illusion because of the lightspeed problem you cite.

    As each ship travels at the speed of light, looking back toward earth, it will appear that the other ship is standing still, such that, at the end of a minute, both it and the earth will appear to be 18,000,000 kilometers away.

    The second ship is actually twice that distance away, and it will take another minute for the light from that second ship, which is 18,000,000 kilometers from earth in the opposite direction (or 36,000,000 kilometers from the first ship) to reach the first ship, so as to finally be seen as being its actual distance of 36,000,000.

    That the actual distance between them is, in fact, 36,000,000 kilometers is easy demonstrated if we were to have a neutral observation point, such as on Mars. From that neutral point, there is no violation of the "law" against exceeding the speed of light. Nor is there any violation of that law from earth. It only appears to be violated from the relative position of each ship looking at the other. But again, that relative observation is an illusion, not the real thing.

    Interesting brain teaser though.

  78. Jen


    I think you would find some of the articles at Answers in Genesis quite interesting. For example, this article http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v22/i3/dragons.asp refers back to St. John of Damascus (8th century) and his teachings/thoughts about dragons.

    Also, do you know when the word "dinosaur" was first used? Apparently it was in 1841 when it was coined by scientist Dr. Richard Owen after he "discovered" bones of a large lizard like creature. Interestingly enough, many of the dinosaurs closely resemble descriptions of "dragons" from older legends. I think it is highly probable that we are talking about the same creatures here!

    Another interesting part of this discussion is whether or not there may actually be some dinosaur/dragons still alive today. http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v15/i4/dinosaurs.asp

  79. Carrien

    Dragons-My personal theory is to blame volcanoes.

    I mean, assume you are a somewhat primitive culture and you see coming from the mountain, in the far off distance, smoke, and flames, and occasionally really bright shining lava flows. Add that to the fact that there are dinosaur fossil records lying around. Every so often you find a giant petrified lizard footprint, or bone.

    It seems easy then for people to conclude that there are giant lizards that breath smoke and belch fire living inn the deep hollows of mountains on hoards of gold, (the shiny lava) and that desolate the entire area around them by burning it with fire so that there is nothing that can live there. In order to do this they must be able to fly.

    When the volcano is no longer active then the dragon left fro somewhere else, or someone killed it.

    You see, this is what I think about when folding the laundry too. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I find my theory a satisfying enough explanation. I wonder if sociologists would agree with me. ๐Ÿ™‚

    PS. thanks for the retweet.

  80. lindyborer

    I just finished Mary Eberstadt's The Loser Letters: A Comic Tale of Life, Death, and Atheism. You simply have to read it (if you haven't already.) Awesome.

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