Ah, the power of google groups… which already existed on the net back in 1996 as Deja News. As soon as I saw “sci.physics” in Cecil’s response to “How does one suck in a piece of spaghetti?,” I just had to go a-googlin’ for it: sci.physics thread.
Looks like either Ed Zotti stopped doing research on usenet for Cecil in 2001, or quit using that AOL account to post from.
In the column, Cecil mentions asking followup questions, but apparently Ed Zotti wasn’t the one who made them, and my google-fu wasn’t enough to find who did.
Little to do with the topic, but this is one of my peeves: Both Google Groups and Deja News are merely mirrors of Usenet, which existed way before 1996.
They’re mirrors with incredible retention. It was a very big deal when Deja News first appeared… most news servers tended to keep around a month’s worth at a time. Some sites kept posts around longer, but they were group-specific, or only accessible to the members of that site, or both. When Deja News came along, and made everything available, and easily searched to boot, it knocked the net on its ear. It’s possible Ed Zotti and Cecil casually assumed their thread would be unavailable in a few months back when that article was written; that was the common attitude then.