"That seems quite likely," he said. "If it was a meteor, the fact that it reached the earth's surface should, I think, be one of the year's most important science news stories. Usually meteors burn to nothing before they're even through the stratosphere."
"Excuse me, sir," interrupted a reporter. "Is there anything out beyond the stratosphere---I mean, is there any name for it?"
"Well, actually the term 'stratosphere' is kind of arbitrary. It's the outer shell of the atmosphere. You can't say definitely where it stops. Beyond it is just, well---dead space."
"Dead space---that's the right name for it, eh?" said the reporter.
"If you want something fancier, maybe we could put it into Greek," said Groszinger playfully. "Thanatos, that's Greek for 'death,' I think. Maybe instead of 'dead space' you'd prefer 'Thanasphere.' Has a nice scientific ring to it, don't you think?"
The newsmen laughed politely.
"Dr. Groszinger, when's the first rocket ship going to make it into space?" asked another reporter.
"You people read too many comic books," said Groszinger. "Come back in twenty years, and maybe I'll have a story for you."
Reprinted from Bagombo Snuff Box by Kurt Vonnegut by permission of G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © 1999 by Kurt Vonnegut. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
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