PASADENA, CA—The world's scientific and multi-volume- book-buying communities are abuzz following Monday's announcement that a team of California Institute of Technology physicists has discovered a wrinkle in the Time-Life continuum.

If the discovery proves to be correct, consumers may be able to receive 100 percent of their money back even after observing Time-Life phenomena for a limited 10-day "window" in the continuum.

"Preliminary data still needs to be closely evaluated before any definitive conclusions can be reached," said Cal Tech team leader Stephen Yu. "But it now appears that the very fabric of Time-Life itself may be curved in such a manner that an observer may be able to purchase, receive and peruse any number of verifiable Time-Life phenomena, and then return them within 10 days for a full money-back-guaranteed refund, in effect returning to precisely where he started 10 days earlier, even though he has already spent 10 days reading material from the continuum firsthand. Yes, I know it sounds paradoxical, but it appears to be true."

According to the Cal Tech physicists, Monday's discovery will likely have a profound impact on researchers' ability to gather useful and interesting data on a variety of topics, including home construction and repair, the Vietnam War, and legendary Old West gunslingers like John Wesley Hardin, a man so ornery he once shot a man just for snoring.

"The potential for backyard deck construction and development alone is tremendous," said Yu, who discovered the crucial wrinkle while "cable-surfing," or rapidly switching from one electromagnetic frequency to another while measuring the results on a phosphorescent screen. "I've always wanted to know how to get simple, easy-to-follow instructions for grouting, tiling, drywall, and installing a new utility sink—and for just a fraction of what a professional would charge."

Yu said the next stage of his Time-Life research will involve the acquisition of a sample specimen of the first volume, Kitchens And Bathrooms, available for a low, low price of only $19.95. If, after examining the sample, Yu is satisfied with the results, he will continue to receive an additional volume every month for only $19.95 each. Yu stressed that because of the paradoxical 10-day window delineated by the curvature of Time-Life, he could return any volume which did not satisfy him, as well as cancel any time.

Monday's discovery has been of particular interest to the handful of physicists working on what is termed the "grand unified theory" or "GUTs," which attempts to link what scientists call "the four forces" into one unified science.

The first major breakthrough in the quest to achieve a grand unified theory occurred in 1971, when an Oxford University physicist working with extremely high-energy particle accelerators successfully proved that Time and Life are, in actuality, a single entity known as Time-Life, fused together long ago in an event known as the Big Merge. In 1982, a Tokyo University team discovered that, under certain conditions, particles within the Time-Life continuum could be exchanged with reactions caused by the strong and weak Warnerlar forces, creating what theorists call the "Time/Warner" force.

"Astounding as it may sound," Cal Tech physicist Lewis Sheehan said, "it may one day be proven that the Time-Life continuum and the Time/Warner force are linked to the so-called 'Turner' forces, which shape literally galaxies of stars, creating the ultimate in grand unified merge theory: the Time/Warner-Turner hypothesis. This theory, however, remains strictly theoretical at this point, as the conditions under which such a merger could occur cannot be generated within known science. It would require a hypothetical high-energy state that only existed during the first few billionths of a second after the creation of the cosmos, and during a brief period in the mid-1990s."

Despite the seeming impossibility of recreating such conditions, Sheehan said there may be a way to use the newly discovered wrinkle to literally step "outside" the realm of known science using data gathered directly from the Mysteries Of The Unknown.

"A woman in Wisconsin gets a sudden feeling that something terrible has happened. Just then the phone rings, and she learns that her daughter in Florida has been in an accident. Just chance? Or is it something more?" Sheehan pondered enigmatically. "I'm going to find out for myself by ordering now."