Updated: Oct 13, 2020
Some of the county's top scientists have pronounced themselves "baffled" by the extraordinary observations of a local Powerstock man, likening his discoveries to those of "a curious but untrained mediaeval monk". Noting that a great deal of elementary astronomy and some worthwhile contributions to the wider sciences have been the work of worthy amateurs in the past, the University of Afpuddle's recently appointed Regius Professor of Astrology, Professor I C Yerfucha ["The offer of a job came completely out of the blue and of course I seized it with both hands" the Sydling St Nicholas Sun's former in-house star signs supremo has said] - believes that the Powerstock man comes from a long line of happenstance contributors to the scientific wield. "Take Sir Isaac Newton, for example, a mere orchard keeper and certainly no scientist in the recognised sense of the term but, as well all know, there he was assessing the suitability of a cox's pippin for the cider-press, when the sharp and unexpected descent of the improperly-held fructiform struck him on the foot and reminded him to invent gravity. Remarkable really and to think he never married."
Back to Powerstock and it was only a matter of months ago that photography enthusiast and agoraphobic Mr Staye-Ian Doors started taking daily pictures of the view from his bedroom window. Though each was unremarkable in itself and seemed little different from one another other* Mr Doors began to notice subtle changes. The beauty of Mr Doors' un-intendedly scientific method was that he took his daily photograph from exactly the same spot every day and at exactly the same time - 4pm - when he rose from his chair in response to "pressure arising from the imminence of a regular bowel movement"] and so just happened that, as a result, he kept the number of potential variables quite small.
* Mr Doors lives in an unusually quiet part of this throbbing metropolis - anywhere else and his remarkable discoveries might have been overlooked amidst a mass of more obviously significant data.
Happily, an unintended consequence of this "fluke" and the almost laboratory-like conditions it created, is, Professor I C Yerfucha says, that "real scientific inferences can be drawn from the photographs". "Thank goodness for regular motions", he said, quickly adding that he was no enterologist and that anyone with digestive concerns should consult a medical doctor in the first instance.
"The changes are almost imperceptible at first", Alma Mater College Photography Tutor Eastmann Co-Dac says , "but in each successive picture we see a small diminution in the brightness of the scene - as though the light were fading. In scientific terms we call this "darkening" though the exact meaning of the term is disputed and subject to considerable conjecture. What Mr Doors appears to have demonstrated is that for some as yet unexplained reason at exactly the same time of day, there is either more or less light present in the atmosphere". "Of course we will need to study this in far more depth and over longer periods of time", Professor Yerfucha warns, "but these photographs are tangible proof that something is changing and as a trained astrologist that's intriguing. Even at this very early stage, I predict a bright future for darkening research. In short, I think Mr Doors may be on to something here and it's up to the professional scientific community to take over where he left off and to see if we can find an explanation for this mind-blowing and fascinating but deeply puzzling phenomenon".
Our scientific correspondent Al Chemy writes:
Scientists certainly believe that there is huge potential interest in Mr Doors' discoveries which has come at just the right time for a community reeling from the impact of CONTRK-69 and its widely-acknowledged mishandling of it. This is an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and regain credibility. Imagine if this process of "darkening" could be explained, properly understood and controlled. Scientific manipulation might then be possible and could lead to midnight barbecues in December in full daylight or even sunbathing at 2am in January! Far-fetched - maybe but then these are the same scientists who promised us an effective CONTRIK vaccine by October - and look how well that turned out. [See also all-electric vehicles capable of completing a 6 mile journey without recharging [Ed].]
BREAKING NEWS: The University of Afpuddle today announced that it it applying to furlough all 12 of its CONTRIK-69 vaccine researchers until such time as it can redeploy them as "Darkening" investigators. It has applied for a one-off £280 million grant for the former and is seeking $498 million annual funding for the latter. ["A mere drop in the ocean" says Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, Research, Sport, Commercial Outreach, Opportunism and On-Campus Betting Professor Grantham Capricorn.]