Wednesday March 29, 2017

Wormhole - time travel or book damage?

By Carol Williamson

The most recognized meaning for “wormhole” is related to time travel. The basic definition is “a theoretical passage through space-time that could create shortcuts for long journeys across the universe. Wormholes are predicted by the theory of general relativity. But be wary: wormholes bring with them the dangers of sudden collapse, high radiation and dangerous contact with exotic matter.” (Space.com)

In the world of books, a wormhole has similar properties: a shortcut through a book; the danger of the collapse of the book; and dangerous contact with exotic matter.

A wormhole in a book is actually the path left behind when an insect invades the book and eats its way through the pages (shortcut through the universe!). Books are vulnerable to such damage if they are not stored correctly; haven’t been cleaned well (dangers of sudden collapse!); have a large amount of gelatin or starch; or have wooden boards or textiles that attract insects.

Many different kinds of insects, including a large variety of beetles, wood weevils, silverfish, and booklice, among others, bore through books and leave their “frass” behind (insect excreta — contact with exotic matter!).

The best prevention for book wormholes is to keep the books dry and cool. Most insects will thrive in high humidity. Clean the books often, and keep looking for the signs of infestation (that exotic matter again!). But don’t be worried about wormholes in the books at Roesch Library — the insects are long gone!

- Carol Williamson, Reference Assistant

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