By Patrick Hruby
Special to Page 2

Welcome to another edition of Stump Page 2, where ignorance is on the clock and knowledge is our No. 1 draft pick ...

Dear Stump Page 2,

Since both teams participating in a sporting event engage in a pregame prayer, how does God choose who the winner is?

– Name withheld

Depends on how you view the Big Umpire upstairs:

a) If God is eternal and all knowing, He doesn't so much "choose" a winner as allow predetermined victory to unfold;

b) If God is compassionate and just, He's probably more worried about tsunami victims than the outcome of the A's-Royals game;

Touchdown Jesus
AP
What does Touchdown Jesus do when Notre Dame plays Oral Roberts?

c) If God works in mysterious ways, then Bucknell upsets Kansas;

d) If God is spiteful and mean, then thaaaaa Yankeeeees win!

When in doubt, go with the team God has action on. He doesn't like to lose, you know.

Dear Stump Page 2,

Assume there was a hole that went all the way through the earth. If someone jumped through it, would they fall up or fall down when they came through the other side?

– Tom Eckel

First things first. Though geologists haven't determined the exact temperature of the Earth's core, they believe it ranges from 3,000 to 7,000 degrees Celsius. Plenty hot. Meanwhile, core pressure is thought to exceed four million pounds per square inch, about 250,000 times regular atmospheric pressure.

Plenty heavy.

As such, anyone falling through a hole in the Earth – assuming said hole didn't collapse on itself – would be crushed, incinerated or both.

Send in your question!
Got a sports or celebrity mind-bender you just can't figure out? Stump Page 2 is here to help. Send your questions to StumpPage2@yahoo.com and check Page 2 for the next "Stump Page 2" column.

Still, for argument's sake, assume the hole exists and is safe for human travel. According to Dr. Cathy Imhoff of the Space Telescope Science Institute, we also would have to assume that the Earth is no longer spinning – otherwise, jumpers would be whipped around like clothes in a washing machine from repeatedly smashing the sides of the tunnel.

Now jump in the hole. Thanks to gravity's pull, you accelerate toward the Earth's center, passing through at a speed of nearly seven miles per second (discounting atmospheric resistance). Next, according to Rutgers physics professor Dick Plano, you slow down as you approach the opposite end of the Earth. Gravity now works against you.

Assuming you don't grab on to something or otherwise exit the hole, you could fall back and forth indefinitely. In fact, Plano estimates that a round trip would take about 90 minutes – in other words, about the same amount of time it takes the Cleveland Cavaliers to fall out of playoff contention.

Dear Stump Page 2,

Was the Arsenio Hall bit on "things that make you go hmmm" based on the C+C Music Factory song, or vice versa?

– Name withheld

A classic chicken-and-the-egg conundrum – only instead of drumsticks and omelets, we're talking Freedom Williams and the guy who vowed to "kick Leno's [expletive]."

Win some, lose some.

According to MP3.com, C+C Music Factory's third single – released in 1990 – "took a phrase popularized by Arsenio Hall and made it into another cleverly infectious Top Ten smash." While "cleverly infectious" might be overstating the matter, Arsenio appears to have said "hmmm" first.

Britney Spears
AP
It might be 20 years from now, but Britney and Playboy are a natural.

Speaking of things that make you go hmmm: Hall voiced the character Winston Zeddemore on the mid-1980s cartoon "The Real Ghostbusters." The actor who played Winston in the "Ghostbusters" movie, Ernie Hudson, was busy voicing a cyborg in the cartoon "The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians." How'd that happen?

Dear Stump Page 2,

If there were a money line in Las Vegas on the odds that Britney Spears will appear in Playboy during my lifetime, what would it be? I am currently 27 years old.

– Aaron Zeleznik

Bad news: Given her current pregnancy, the portly pop tart has a better chance of appearing in Parenting magazine, or perhaps on the cover of Vanity Fair. In January, an online betting site even took down posted odds that Spears would pose, citing widely circulated black-and-white nude photos that turned out to be of a Spears look-alike.

(Stump Page 2 researched the latter matter extensively.)

On the other hand, Spears' musical career is tanking like the Cleveland Cavs' falling through the center of the Earth. At some point – perhaps after divorce No. 4 – it's reasonable to think she might need the publicity that comes with a nude shoot. With that in mind, we put the odds of a Spears spread in the next two decades at 2-1, and at 10-1 in the years thereafter.

Also, please note that these odds are for recreational purposes only. Sorta like Playboy.

Dear Stump Page 2,

How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?

– Dave Barac

Believe it or not, science has taken up the Tootsie gauntlet – with inconclusive results.

Tootsie Roll Pops
AP
Sure, but was Alice Cooper part of these experiments?

According to Tootsie Roll Industries, a group of Purdue University engineering students built a licking machine based on a human tongue, then put it to work. The machine took an average of 364 licks to reach the center, while a group of 20 human volunteers took 252 licks.

Similarly, a licking machine created by a University of Michigan chemical engineering student needed an average of 411 licks to reach the core. By contrast, a group of junior high students used human lickers in a science project and came up with an average of 144 licks.

The upshot? Humans might not be able to beat machines at chess, but we can still lick them at, well, licking – a credit to the adult film industry, and one more reason for our future robot overlords to keep us around once Skynet becomes self-aware.

Dear Stump Page 2,

Why is the wrestling ring called the squared circle?

– Jim Hills

You mean the pro wrestling ring. According to John Fuller of USA Wrestling, the real sport has always taken place in a circular ring – from ancient Greek and Roman grappling to today's Olympic variety.

Meanwhile, fakey, entertainment-first pro wrestling settled on square rings surrounded by ropes – in essence, boxing-style setups. Calling said rings "squared circles" was a bid for greater respect.

"When trying to legitimize pro wrestling as a real sport, they put the circle into play, to familiarize themselves with wrestling fans," Fuller says. "It's a term that has pretty much stuck, even as they've gotten away from the term 'professional wrestling.'"

Within the real wrestling community, Fuller adds, the term provokes both ire and indifference.

"It's probably a 50-50 split," he says. "It does bother a lot of people. Not me. I'm pretty good friends with Kurt Angle, and the WWE is an avenue for him to make money. So why not?"

Dear Stump Page 2,

So if a team ties its very first game, what would its (and its opponent's, I suppose ... ) winning percentage be? It couldn't be 1.000, because they didn't win, but they also didn't quite lose. Maybe .500?

– Erik S.

Actually, it would be zero. Winning percentage is calculated by dividing victories by the total number of games played. Since a tie does not count as a victory, the equation in question would be 0/1, which equals zero.

More puzzling is the winning percentage of teams that have yet to play a game. Though often listed in league standings as .000, zero divided by zero is mathematically "indeterminate," which means you could conceivably give it a number of values.

Anyway, this is why soccer and hockey have points systems, and why the television ratings for both sports resemble the winning percentage of a team that ties its very first game.

Dear Stump Page 2,

What is the meaning of life?

– Troy VanAacken

Forty-two. At least, that's the answer given in the book "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," soon to be a major motion picture released by Touchstone, which happens to be owned by Disney, which happens to own ESPN, which happens to cut Stump Page 2's freelance checks.

Of course, we're not saying you should see the movie.

We're saying you should see it more than once. And bring your friends.

Patrick Hruby is a sportswriter for The Washington Times.



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