Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Vanishing Robbers

By Laurance R. Doyle
SETI Institute
posted: 10 March 2005
06:25 am ET

Author’s note: When I once read that Arthur Conan Doyle’s character Sherlock Holmes did not care about the Earth’s orbit I thought it might be a good idea to have him collaborate with the Royal Greenwich Observatory. So being in both the "Doyle" and the "Astronomy" Clans, I thought I’d give it a go. So here is the two-part "Case of the Vanishing Robbers" -- Laurance R. Doyle

"But how did the men escape without being noticed? Can they have retraced their footsteps? And the box? And the funny crisscross prints in the mud? And the hole with the metal bottles in it?"
"Now Watson, you know how I dislike to give away the answer before it is time. You have always, I assume, enjoyed, or at least tolerated, my flair for the dramatic up to now. Patience, and you will come to hear it all. But I will tell you this. By the way these men tried to cover their escape, we know that they will undoubtedly try another robbery soon." With that we flagged down a carriage.

"Coachman," said Holmes, "to the Royal Greenwich Observatory. They will certainly be up on such a clear night."

"What?" I said, more than mildly surprised. "I thought you had no interest in astronomy? You once said that it didn’t matter to you whether the Sun went around the Earth, or the Earth around the Sun."

"I may have been premature, Watson. At any rate, it is never too late to learn something new, eh?" he said with a grin. The complicated whims of this man never ceased to surprise me.