I could tell this was A Letter From A Nutter just by holding it, before I’d even read a word. Printed on very thin white paper and with the header and footer contact details set slightly skewiff, as though photocopied and stuck on in haste (by a nutter), the letter’s top right hand corner featured a line drawing of a man in a fedora with his back to us carrying papers. Underneath are the words:
Below that, the even more mystifyingly marvellous:
The Phoenix CIRCA Anno Domini
Anno Domini what? you might well ask… the answer is revealed by the letter’s date:
April 10, 1011
Having thus established conclusively that the letter was either a) from the middle of the Dark Ages or b) from A Nutter, I proceeded to read it.
This has to do with a photo on page 247 in your 2004 ASSTRONOMY [sic] – a Visual Guide. What I need is a statement as to the circumstances of the photo… The implication is that this is actually a photograph of WIMP (or MACHO?) material.
[I had no idea what WIMP or MACHO stood for, other than the obvious male stereotypes… so I googled them and learned that “WIMP is an acronym for weakly interacting massive particle and MACHO is an acronym for massive (astrophysical) compact halo object. WIMPs and MACHOs are two of the most popular DARK MATTER candidates.” Thank you Wikipedia]
Could you forward this letter to someone who might be able to fill in the what and whence for of this photograph? [emphasis – and grammar – the author’s own].
Your response would be greatly appreciated as it would be another input for my theory of the universe’s final end.
George Surname Changed to Protect Me From Nutters, Ph.D.
Author & Publisher
[Of course he’s a Ph.D. And of course he’s an Author and Publisher. The fact that he managed to spell not only my company’s name – which he must have seen printed in the darn book in the first place – and the name of this city but also the name of this country incorrectly is, I feel sure, mute but eloquent testament to his success at both.]
After a quick search I actually located the image in question on page 274, rather than page 247. After years of practice at deciphering nutter code, this was only the second place I checked.
And it is, predictably, not a photo of dark matter – of neither the wimp nor macho varieties – since that would be a physical impossibility beyond even my talents as a photo researcher (I don’t have Doctor Who’s mobile number and the Klingons are notoriously touchy when it comes to sharing pictures. They even banned lolcats), but a computer-generated model, mapping the inferred location of dark matter across the universe, calculated by observing its gravitational pull on galaxies.
I was delighted to be able to point The Nutter in the direction of the team at the Paris Astrophysics Institute who made the model. Good luck with that.