Things I know but don’t understand
It may not be rocket science, but there are a few things I have to believe but that still definitely puzzle me and I can’t help wondering if anybody else understands them any better than I do. Maybe life wouldn’t be so much fun without its little mysteries but I’ve always thought it was better to have the facts and have everything comfortably explained.
For instance, those room deodorizers that they claim absorb any and all odors. Most of them have a definite scent– flowers, sea breezes, pine trees, etc.– so, if they absorb all odors, how can they retain their own distinctive smells? Wouldn’t they cancel out themselves as well as the undesirable odors? How could they know what odors to absorb and what odors to let stand? Then, there’s the dilemma of the universal solvent that will dissolve anything. I’ve never figured out what they could use for a container to hold it. Wouldn’t the container be dissolved?
Those little glitches on television that happen during what are supposedly live broadcasts. The newscaster seems to stutter, a syllable or two gets lost and, even though we can usually figure out what was meant, I can’t help wondering what happens to those missing words or parts of words. Do they get snatched away into another dimension or parallel universe? Are they collected and reassembled to construct parts of some other broadcast altogether? Do they ever escape and contaminate other programs? And what about the few seconds that disappear along with the words? What happens to them?
There are things I’ve been forced to accept as true, even though nobody has ever explained them to my satisfaction. These are things I learned in high school physics class and, while I’ve accepted them on faith, I can’t say that I really believe them. One deals with making ice cream. I know that, in order to get the ice cream to freeze, you have to put salt in with the ice. Salt makes the ice melt, right? So – how does that make it colder than it was before you put the salt on it?
I long ago learned that a longer screwdriver gives you more twisting power than a short one does. I’ve proven that to myself many times over. But I can’t, for the life of me, understand WHY this is true. It makes more sense to me to think that, with all that extra screwdriver to turn, it would take more power to turn it rather than less.
I was totally mystified when, following the birth of one of my children, a nurse told me they had a new scale for weighing the babies (this to give an accurate reading of exactly how much milk the infant had consumed at a feeding.) The scale did not require that the baby be placed on the scale, which always reminded me of the meat scale in the butcher shop, but that the nurse simply had to press the baby up against the scale. That sounds to me like some sort of voodoo that reverses the law of gravity. I think about that once in a while, but it all gets too complicated and the logic sort of short-circuits and burns itself out.
Then, there are a few vague areas regarding the matter of motion. I’ve never had trouble believing in centrifugal force. I spent many hours in a wonderful swing hung in our maple tree with long chains. It was much nicer swinging than the swings in the city park that had chains only about 12 feet long. I proved, many times over, that I could swing my little sand bucket full of water or sand completely upside-down in a circle and whatever happened to be in the bucket would stay put. But, when I remember the cream separator we used when my dad milked two cows twice every day and we separated the cream from some of the fresh milk, I never understood what all those stainless steel disks had to do with it and why they had to be kept in a certain order—they all looked the same to me.
A fly in the car when we were zooming 60 miles an hour down the highway was another matter. If the fly were on the outside of the windshield, he’d be blown off or smashed flat instantly, but on the inside, he’s perfectly safe. And why could I jump up in the aisle of the train and come down in the same spot? Why didn’t the train move under me and allow me to make a 10-foot standing broad jump?
I guess these things all come under the heading of Laws of Physics. That’s the only way I can make myself accept them. They’re laws, and I’ve always believed in laws, even if I don’t fully understand them. I think there’s a case, though, against the universal solvent and the room deodorizers.