May 31st, 2005

krazy koati

Inside outside upside-down

I've got a front-loading, vertical tumbling sort of washing machine. This tremendously interesting fact I mention to reach my point, which is something I noticed over my last couple loads of laundry. I take off my clothes the way I imagine most do, by slipping things off, so that when I put them in the laundry they're outside-out, just like they are when I put them on.

So why do my shirts and shorts come out of the wash inside-out?

I'd always thought more clothes ended up inside-out than would be accounted for by chance, but it's only the last couple loads I really paid attention, and there hasn't been one right-side out anything the past week plus. There's got to be some deep physical reason behind this, as well as why this doesn't happen at my parents', which has front-loading washer and dryer. (I don't have a dryer.) It may seem absurd looking for physics in this, but one of my mathematics instructors found there were actual good physical reasons for an odd extra half-turn his tennis racket made whenever he tossed it around. There may be something similar here.

Reading a Richard Feynman textbook (this one on statistical mechanics) is a great way of remembering just how much fun your chosen subject is, but it brings with it the reminder of how much more he knew about it than you ever will. It's a sort of double-edged emotion.

Trivia: Samuel Rogers declined the nomination to be England's Poet Laureate in 1850; Alfred, Lord Tennyson took the pst. Source: The New York Public Library Desk Reference, Paul Fargis, Sheree Bykofsky.

Currently Reading: The Nitrogen Fix, Hal Clement.