Monday, December 17, 2012

From the Liar: Ask Dr. Psience

       From the Annals of “The National Liar”:

       Ask Dr. Psience

         Dear Dr. Psience:
         Every time I wash my socks, I always lose one. Sometimes a sock shows up that I’ve never seen before. Where do they go to? Where do they come from?
                          Signed, Barefoot.

         Dear Barefoot:
         They enter hyperspace. The darkness, heat, moisture, rotation and static electricity inside dryers generate a magnetogravitic field capable of projecting small articles of clothing into another dimension. Once ejected from the space/time continuum, your socks travel at many times the speed of light, rematerializing at vast distances from their point of departure.
         Interplanetary, even interstellar, sock jaunts are not uncommon. The recently-discovered “thin rings” of Neptune are made almost entirely of lost socks; and the “Lint Mountain” of Beta Draconis IV is one of the wonders of the galaxy.
         Sock travel is not one-way; there is reason to believe that other species in the universe lose their socks in precisely the way that you do. In fact, those mystery socks that appear in your dryer are articles of alien clothing. (We suspect, however, that they are not exactly socks. Exactly which extraterrestrial appendages these items are designed to cover remains a mystery.)

         Dear Dr. Psience:
         Is it possible to throw a potato chip?
                          Signed, Starch-flinger

         Dear Starch-flinger:
         Technically, yes, it is possible; but in practice, no.
         The trouble is that potato chips are irregular; they have warps, bubbles, curls, and other flaws. These irregularities induce turbulent air currents around the chip when it is thrown, swiftly halting its motion.
         However, if it were possible to bake a perfect potato chip, then when thrown, it could propel itself through the air with a smooth corkscrew motion. In theory, a perfect potato chip in a “Pringle’s Tumble” can circumnavigate the globe.
         The “Pringle’s Tumble” is named after a chip-like product manufactured by the Pringle’s company. Tests have shown that these  “Pringles” can indeed tumble for long distances. Unfortunately, taste tests have also shown that the “Pringles” product is not an actual potato chip.
         So if it’s a potato chip, then you cannot throw it; and if you can throw it, then it’s not a potato chip.

         Dear Dr. Psience:
         Have you ever had the creepy feeling that somebody was watching you? And when you turned around, were you right? This has happened to me many times; my question is, how did I know?
                          signed, Spooky

         Dear Spooky:
         You knew by extrasensory perception. You unconsciously used a psychic ability called Hindsight, or Scrutiny Awareness; the ability to know when you are being watched.
         Most people have this psi power, and for good reason. We inherited the talent from our jungle-dwelling primate ancestors. In the wild, there is a selective Darwinian advantage in the ability to detect being detected; thus the gene spread.
         Predation is slightly less common in civilization than in the jungle; thus the ability, though common, remains dormant in many people. Practice makes perfect; so scrutiny awareness is most keenly developed in persons working in jungle-like conditions, such as prisons, corporate boardrooms, and schools.
         Other natural psi powers exist, including hindsight’s counterpart, “gaze projection”, also known as “bright eyes”; the ability to make other persons aware that you are watching them. Dr. Psience himself once made the driver of a car two lanes over, travelling at highway speed, glance backwards at him.

         Dear Dr. Psience:
         What is the speed of darkness?
                          signed, Benighted.

         Dear Benighted:

         The speed of darkness is the same as the speed of light; for darkness and light are opposites, but the difference between opposites is largely a matter of perspective.
         The quantum of light is the photon; therefore the quantum of darkness is the anti-photon. But the photon is its own anti-particle; it cancels itself out when phase relations oppose. Therefore darkness is really light of opposite phase.
         Like white light, black darkness has a spectrum; the “absorption line anti-rainbow”: cyan, turquoise, amethyst, magenta, tangerine, and canary; respectively anti-red, anti-orange, anti-yellow, anti-green, anti-blue, and anti-violet. You can see these shades by projecting a beam of darkness through a prism.
         A glance at the night sky reveals that space is full of darkness. In fact, space is made of darkness. Both were created in the Big Bang, which was an infinitely dark flash of anti-light.

         Dear Dr. Psience:
         I buy this new computer, bigger, faster, and much much cooler than my old machine; but when I turn it on, it takes just as long to boot up as my old one did! What gives?
                          signed, Waiting For Windows

         Dear Waiting For Windows:
         You are a victim of Gates’ Law, the natural nemesis of Moore’s Law. Moore’s Law says that computers double in capacity and speed every six months. That sounds good, but unfortunately it meets Gates’ Law, which says that operating systems double in bulk and slowness every six months. Gates’ Law is the cybernetic equivalent of Parkinson’s Law, which declares that work expands to fill the time available.
         You see, dear Waiting For Windows, computers (and their programmers) like slack as much as you do.

         Next time in Dr. Psience: Traffic Deities, Hominid Thermostat, Bottleneck Synchronization, ‘Toon Physics, and Cooties.


         In last issue’s gene-sequence of the Rejuvenation Retrovirus, the STOP code was accidentally omitted. Therefore use of this agent is not recommended. The National Liar regrets any bio-medical mishaps that may have resulted from the error.

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