A friend and I were reminiscing about the bad science in children’s books and recalling the first time we had felt a stubborn resistance to the required suspension of disbelief.
My earliest recollection was from reading “The Big Brag” by Dr Seuss (originally in “Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories”) in which the braggart bear and rabbit are humbled by the old crazy-eyed worm who, it turns out, has stunning visual acuity. So stunning, in fact, that he can see all the way around the world to where the rabbit and bear are standing by his home, arguing and disturbing him.
This contrasted wildly with the amazing and much more satisfying explanation of nautical distance calculation by apparent horizon that my sailor grandfather had imparted to me around the time I read the book. Lines of sight bending around the world? Preposterous!
Then it occurred to (current) me that the worm might potentially have demonstrated this skill, were his amazing eyeballs at the event horizon of a black hole. Then, after poignantly dissing the hapless bear and rabbit, he pops back down… into his wormhole.
A quick google exercise reveals that the original publication of “The Big Brag” was in 1950, 7 full years before John Archibald Wheeler coined the term to describe hypothetical spacetime topology.
So was Dr Seuss scientifically prescient? Did Wheeler fail to appropriately credit him with his gedankenexperiment? What other stunning evidence of Dr Seuss’s relativistic predictions awaits discovery in the tomes of doggerel?
ps: I swear we were not under the influence of any substances when discussing this.