Interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson

Underneath the Actuality Shield:   

Underneath the Actuality Shield:


Pearl River Flow:  “We’re interviewing world-famous astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson today, it’s certainly the biggest interview we’ve been able to do so far, and we’re honored to have him on the show.”

Neil DeGrasse Tyson: “Well, you know, you say ‘we’ but, actually, there’s only one of you.”

PRF: “Okay, good point, Neil, I was using the editorial ‘we,’ so let’s…”

NDT: “Also, while you are in fact, interviewing me today, by the time people read this interview, the day that they read it won’t be today. They’ll become time travellers, simply by…”

PRF: “Okay, right, but it’ll be ‘today’ to them, or they can look at the date stamp and…”

NDT: “And while you say it’s the ‘biggest’ interview you’ve ever done, the mass of all the interviews is negligible, so you could perhaps say it’s going to be your most popular interview, or I am your largest guest, if that’s true.”

PRF: “That’s true. Our other interviews were mostly small woodland creatures and Phil Bryant. I think you're larger than him.”

NDT: “That must have smelled awful. Did you know our sense of smell is actually a sense of chemical touch? The molecules in the air directly touch our olfactory nerves, creating impulses that the brain references with memories, allowing us to identify what we mistakenly call ‘smells.’ Also, did you know that hate, being a chemical interaction inside the neurons of the brain, has a weight, or more technically, a mass?"

PRF: “Is that a mistake? That doesn’t feel like a mistake. Also, the woodland creatures smelled fine.”

NDT: "Woodland creatures smell wonderful. I know that. They smell of starstuff. We're all made of starstuff. Even Phil Bryant."

PRF: "Are you telling me that the 'hatestar' is real?"

NDT: *Chuckling merrily* "No comment. But, hate does have a smell."

PRF: "Alright, can we get to the first question?"

NDT: *Chuckling a little more merrily* "You mean the second question?"

PRF: "Goddamnit, Neil, don't do this to me."

NDT: "When you say you're honored to have me 'on the show,' are you suggesting that I am, somehow, standing on top of it? Given four dimensions of space, the only one that I can be said to reside 'above' your readers is in the 'time' dimension, where if we arbitrarily - because all directions are arbitrary - designate 'before' as 'above,' then I am in fact 'above' or 'on' your 'show,' even though it's not what is traditionally understood as a 'show,' it's a written interview."

PRF: "I must confess to a certain amount of inexactitude in my English, Neil. I like a little poetry, leaving things open to interpretation."

NDT: "So I am forced to translate from 'muddled idiot' into 'science english.' After having seen Prometheus, I am up to the task."

PRF: "Did you really see Prometheus, or was it just photons..."

NDT: "Hey, no. I do that. Not you. Cut that out."

PRF: "Alright the..."

NDT: *Waiting expectantly*

PRF: *Sighs, counts on fingers* "Uh, mistake, Hatestar, first question.. Okay, alright, the forth question. 

NDT: "Excellent!"

PRF: "Do you think that aliens would purposefully contact human, or post-human civilizations?"

NDT: "What do you know about the squirrel plan?!"

PRF: "I'm with the beavers, Tyson. It's okay."

NDT: "We get Mars, flat-tail."

PRF: "Okay, okay, chill out."

NDT: "Did you know that most liquids contract, rather than expand, when they freeze? Water's an exception, it's crystalline structure causes it to take up more space than it's liquid form. So on a world where water was not the main liquid, thinking creatures might say 'chill in,' because their liquids would contract when frozen."

PRF: "That's actually kind of.... cool."

NDT: *Laughs giddily like a schoolgirl*

PRF: "So, if we lived on a world with a different non-water liquid, it would shrink when it froze, and wouldn't float to the top of the lake or ocean or whatever? It would sink to the bottom?"

NDT: "Yes, retaining it's cold, not being thawed out by the lifegiving sun." *At the mention of 'life-giving sun' Tyson kneels, touches the floor with his right knuckle, then raises his left fist to the sky before mouthing a word I cannot hear* "Therefore, oceans made of a non-water liquid would freeze an Earthlike planet, turning it into a lifeless snowball."

PRF: "Whoa. Did you cover that on Cosmos?"

NDT: "I didn't want to terrify you all into sleepless nights."

PRF: "But you did that whole thing on 'The Great Dying.' I couldn't sleep for a week, knowing that we're basically doing the same thing to the ocean now."

NDT: "Ah, the Great Dying. Hail Satan."

PRF: "What?"

NDT: "Good friend of mine. Let's carry on."

PRF: "I'd really like to come back to what you just said..."

NDT: "The Great Dying wasn't that great, but there was a hell of a lot of dying. Like, everything dead. *There is a bit of a glimmer in his eye here, but I cannot tell if it is sadness or joy* Most everything in the oceans died as it became an anoxic pit of poison, spewing clouds of toxic methane gases out over the continents. Even the trilobites, who had survived on the Earth for most of the history of multicellular life, enduring meteors, comets, volcanoes, the appearance of predators, diseases, parasites - even they were wiped from the book of life, swept by the cold hand of the Death Ocean into the Halls of Extinction."

PRF: "So I was searching the phrase 'Death Ocean' to come up with a pithy clip of a Death Metal band playing the song, but every time I typed it in, all these articles were about how we're actually killing the oceans."

NDT: "You mean 'that thing that's most of the Planet?"

PRF: "We're fucked, aren't we?"

NDT: "Fucking would imply some sort of coitus. When we've killed the oceans, we will simply cease to exist, after centuries of hopeless torment."

PRF: "I think we're going to end on that note."

NDT: "Actually, the note we end on will be the strangled cry of the infant in the crib as clouds of methane flow over what's left of the straggling, starving dregs of humanity, torn down in the peak of their civilization from their gleaming cities and hopeful concrete temples, to choke and bleed in the streets as they fight over the last few grains of corn that were harvested years ago from poisoned fields of blood..."

PRF: "Cut off the mic. Cut it all off. End the transmission, damnit! Why is he smiling?! WHY IS HE SMILING!?

NDT: "...actually, when you say 'hope,' as in 'there's hope for the future,' what you really mean is 'I want the future to be this way' but the Universe doesn't care, it..."


We regret losing another Pearl River Flow intern team. We are now hiring. We do not, as it is, 'pay,' though the 'exposure' is great, so bring weather-appropriate gear. You will be expected to fight raccoons for your daily snack allowance.

Deeper Into the Cubes

The cube has reproduced. There are more of them now. They are changing, evolving.

Center For Cube Studies: Pearl River Flow HQ

Time and date unknown

Following the incident evidenced after our original research, we have delved deeper into the question of THE CUBE. The existence of these artifacts, or, perhaps, artifact, has been dealt with by the paranormal research team at PRF. 


Date Unknown

HEAD RESEARCHER: Garry Blatherskite.

It's possible that I was brought back from the dead just for this.  But that doesn't seem right. I was only ten years old. I AM only ten years old, but the cubes change time. I have been doing this for decades. I am yet to begin.

Everyone thought the cube was just one entity, eternal, forever, unchanging, a Platonic form left to weather in the swamp of the Real. We did not think it could be broken. We did not know how many there were, how many there are, how many there will be.

Wrong, wrong wrong! We knew we were wrong, but we - I - just now discovered we were wrong. They don't even know yet. I haven't read the words I am about to type, I have not written them yet, but I have read them on an ancient terminal after the end of the world. They are written in the language of the cubes long after we are all gone.

They change. They multiply. Or divide. It depends on how you view the cubes, or how time views them while you view time.

Back to their mundane substance. Mineralogy escapes us, laser beams and chromatographs spout nonsense, give lines for nonexistent compounds. Hardness seems off the charts, but yet when the time comes for them to... reproduce...

There cannot be another word for it, for what these hexahedrons accomplish with the split shards, cracking along lines only visible in ancient photographs. They reproduce, like bacteria or yeast, each one a multitude dividing, and like these invisible architects, the sole actors on the stage of life for three of the four billion year history of the world, they have a way to... exchange information, a crystalline genetics unhinged by time, alien to the teeming forms of life on earth.

None of life is like them. All of life is like them. Was like them. We changed, became algae and mushrooms and ants and trees and plankton. They did not change. They waited.

Reports have come in. We can see inside the cubes, if we wish to go mad. Many members of the research team did just that, willingly peered into the stone stomata. In an instant born before they were, something was transferred into them, plasmid bridges bringing unfolding sheets and shapes. They saw inside, and they told me of vestigial things, symbiotic organs, impossible matter.

Their words turned into a song of screams, each one desired to have inorganic bones, they argued, not knowing if they always had crystalline fibers for hairs, if the iridescent colors of their skin were becoming more or less pronounced as the cubes rebuilt them, each geometric parasitic egg as flawed and alive as the human beings they had replaced.

I know the cubes will hatch. I know they have hatched. I am not old enough to have seen them in every backyard, appearing next to barbeque grills and water tanks, I know I have never watched curious children point to them at the zoo next to the stained glass panda, eating twitching leaves from the trough formed on top.

I am just a child. I lived and died and came back and I have died again, I see the statues of my coworkers frozen in delight, the joy overwhelming, and yet I see them wish for their crystalline fate. They want to be glass.

They are so beautiful, and I am transfixed by what they will become.

I will look inside. The statues that were my friends, the eggs that were my family, they tell me that I already have looked, I have heard the song of the cubes and it is beautiful. I have always heard it, in my mind, in those quiet moments at 3 AM when the noises of the world are all that is left. My mind is wind over broken time, carving canyons formed by our obsolescence. The cubes have always been here. The cubes will always be here. The only way forward is in stone.

The first cube was in the swamp. We are the last cube.

I am coming home. We all become.


- This strange transmission was found on a disused IBM 5100 in the PRF facility basement. It should be noted that Pearl River Flow has no "Paranormal Research Team," nor a "Center for Cube Studies." The owner of the computer, one "John Titor," was unavailable for comment, though one of the interns swears he was a reporter here. Whatever the case, we are on the lookout for any further developments of THE CUBE.


Big Muddy 2: Mud in the Fog

As I've mentioned before, Mississippi has her fair share of people claiming to see things. That's not abnormal. Many people see things they cannot explain daily. I myself was surrounded by men with tentacle eyes requesting gluten-free cereals just the other day.

But we all must maintain certain stories, lest we go mad, though there are certain stories more indicative of madness than of coping with it.

One such story is the tale of Big Muddy. We've hinted at the existence of this Pearl River Monster, gleaned what we could from a single photograph that surely was not just a bird flying in front of the camera.

Part of being a cyptozoologist is adhering to the idea that your quarry is somehow different than normal animals. Otherwise, you'd just be a zoologist, some random schmuck investigating the near infinite diversity of arthropods, or other important animals, like tardigrades, or molluscs.

One of the lesser branches on the tree of life is the vertebrates. Our editors have a debate on if the planet rightfully belongs to the insects or the bacteria, with a third lobbying for coral reefs, but we feel that option three will be an evolutionary dead end in a matter of decades. Nevertheless, human beings feel that vertebrates are somehow important, no doubt in some sort of kinship display.

But amongst these oddities of nature, these creatures with a backbone (statistically speaking, they all live in the water, with a few in the jungle) - one is rare enough to perhaps not even exist, though this has not in any way dampened my enthusiasm for it.


Big muddy was last spotted just North of I-20, just South of Highway 80, in the iconic photography seen HERE.

New sightings have been reported near the Silas Brown Bridge. We present you with the evidence.

See the twin forms between the light poles and the bridge? Serpentine in nature, like the Loch Ness Monster!

This clear evidence (which is most certainly NOT, as some "skeptics' have claimed, "a pair of logs") shows us not one Big Muddy, but TWO! Serpentine heads, long bodies, moving as a pair! One moves with just the head above the water, as is common with the local water moccasin, the other moves with the entire body floating on the surface, as the common water snake.

The size must be 3-7 meters in length. We sent a reporter under the bridge. Reports that we did so at gunpoint can safely be discounted.

Not seen: Big Muddy. Seen: Fuzzy camera work and St. Elmo's Fire.

The clearly shaken photographer returned with clear photographic evidence that Big Muddy is not only NOT a log (would a log have vanished from the shot?) but also possesses strange paranormal phenomenon.

If The X Files (the last TV show we were allowed to watch) has taught us anything, it is that whenever you have one paranormal phenomenon, you should just go ahead and search for another, because you're on a roll, and clearly going to be right about that one, too.

Which is why, in the above photograph, we see the infamous "Bigfoot focus effect," the notorious camera malfunction that occurs whenever video or photograph equipment attempts to capture clear evidence of the bipedal ape in question.

Additionally, we see St. Elmo's Fire, a blue variety, lighting up the river. This is surely NOT just some camera effect due to the extreme lighting conditions, a drunken and fear-soaked intern forced to crawl under a bridge during flood conditions in the dark is perfectly capable of making such a difficult shot.

Therefore, thanks to these two pictures, we can safely overturn a century of zoological observation and safely assume that giant mystical snakes are the cause of the Big Muddy phenomenon.