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Can Washing Machines Really Eat Socks?

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Do enough laundry and eventually you’ll find yourself standing over a pile of clothes looking perplexed. Two red socks entered the wash. Like a fabric softener-scented Thunderdome, only one has emerged. 

Are you imagining things? Does a sock monster reside in your laundry room? Where do missing socks go?

Mechanically speaking, it actually is possible for your washing machine to “eat” an errant sock. According to the Whirlpool Institute of Home Science, both top-loading and front-loading washers are capable of allowing a sock to exit the drum and get trapped in areas not normally visible or accessible to the user. For front loaders, it might get lodged just underneath the rubber water seal; for top loaders, the sock could sneak into the crevice between the inner and outer drums as a result of overloading the appliance, then get snagged in the water drain or pump. It’s also possible for socks to get stuck underneath a top-loader’s agitator.

Fix Appliances CA Bradford via YouTube

So, yes, your washer might be licking its metaphorical chops and eagerly devouring your freshly laundered socks before they're able to find safe harbor in the dryer. If they do make it to a dry cycle, socks can be victimized by static electricity, sticking to the inside of pant legs or other material and going unnoticed during the folding process.

But there’s actually another component to missing hosiery, and it has nothing to do with mechanical error or static. The problem is your perception.

Last spring, Samsung’s UK division commissioned psychologist Dr. Simon Moore and statistician Geoff Ellis to evaluate the epidemic of missing socks for an honest-to-goodness study [PDF] of the epidemic. According to Samsung, Brits lose an average 1.3 socks every month, or 15 a year. That’s 84 million abandoned socks each month, far too many for machines to masticate. So where do they go?

According to Dr. Moore, who interviewed 24 consumers in person and polled an additional 2000 online, the disappearance of socks is a result of cognitive bias. “These are things that give you the illusion of doing something when you’re not,” Moore tells mental_floss. “As an example, we found a correlation between sock vanishings and the size of a household. The more people in the household, the greater diffusion of responsibility.” Someone charged with loading the washer will expect someone else to unload it properly; if they notice a sock missing, they might assume another family member will find it.

The second predictor of sock misadventure is heuristics, the mental shortcuts for problem-solving. When a sock goes missing, Moore says, people tend to look only in the most obvious places before giving up. “The best way to find a sock would be to systematically turn things over, but we don’t. We’re lazy.” Instead of peering behind radiators or under beds, we accept the remaining sock as a singular entity, experience a brief grieving process, and go on with our lives.

But the people Moore polled who saw washing as less of a chore and more of a pleasurable activity were less likely to experience sock loss. “People who had a positive attitude about the whole process, who liked doing it, actually had fewer missing socks," he says. "They simply paid more attention to detail.”

In the end, Moore believes that relatively few people who embrace the pleasure of domestic duties will continue to lament the loss of their socks and fall back on blaming an external reason—like a sock monster.

“It’s better to blame washing machines than their own failures,” he says. “The alternative is to admit they’re rubbish at doing chores.”

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How Long Could a Person Survive With an Unlimited Supply of Water, But No Food at All?
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How long could a person survive if he had unlimited supply of water, but no food at all?

Richard Lee Fulgham:

I happen to know the answer because I have studied starvation, its course, and its utility in committing a painless suicide. (No, I’m not suicidal.)

A healthy human being can live approximately 45 to 65 days without food of any kind, so long as he or she keeps hydrated.

You could survive without any severe symptoms [for] about 30 to 35 days, but after that you would probably experience skin rashes, diarrhea, and of course substantial weight loss.

The body—as you must know—begins eating itself, beginning with adipose tissue (i.e. fat) and next the muscle tissue.

Google Mahatma Gandhi, who starved himself almost to death during 14 voluntary hunger strikes to bring attention to India’s independence movement.

Strangely, there is much evidence that starvation is a painless way to die. In fact, you experience a wonderful euphoria when the body realizes it is about to die. Whether this is a divine gift or merely secretions of the brain is not known.

Of course, the picture is not so pretty for all reports. Some victims of starvation have experienced extreme irritability, unbearably itchy skin rashes, unceasing diarrhea, painful swallowing, and edema.

In most cases, death comes when the organs begin to shut down after six to nine weeks. Usually the heart simply stops.

(Here is a detailed medical report of the longest known fast: 382 days.)

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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Why is Friday the 13th Considered Unlucky?
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Today, people around the globe will feel uneasy about getting out of bed, leaving their homes, or going about their normal daily routines, all because of a superstition. These unfortunate folks suffer from “paraskavedekatriaphobia,” a common neurosis familiar to us all: the fear of Friday the 13th. But just where did this superstitious association come from, and how did it catch on?

The truth is that no one is absolutely sure where the idea that Friday the 13th is unlucky originated. Donald Dossey, the founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, suspects the fear can be traced back to a Norse myth about 12 gods who had a dinner at Valhalla—the fabled hall where legendary Norse heroes feasted for eternity after they died—that was interrupted by a 13th guest, the evil and mischievous god Loki. According to legend, Loki tricked Höðr (the blind god of winter and son of Odin, the supreme god in Norse mythology) into shooting his brother Baldr (the benevolent god of summer who was also a son of Odin) with a magical spear tipped with mistletoe—the only substance that could defeat him. Thus the number 13 was branded as unlucky because of the ominous period of mourning following the loss of such powerful gods by this unwanted 13th guest.

For whatever reason, among many cultures, the number 12 emerged throughout history as a "complete" number: There are 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 Gods of Olympus, 12 sons of Odin, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 Jyotirlingas or Hindu shrines where Shiva is worshipped, 12 successors of Muhammad in Shia Islam, and 12 tribes of Israel. In Christianity, Jesus was betrayed by one of his 12 Apostles—Judas—who was the 13th guest to arrive for the Last Supper. Surpassing the number 12 ostensibly unbalances the ideal nature of things; because it is seen as irregular and disrespectful of a sense of perfection, the number 13 bears the stigma of misfortune and bad luck we know today.

WHY FRIDAY?

Friday joins in the mix mostly because all of the early accounts of Jesus’s crucifixion agree that it took place on Friday—the standard day for crucifixions in Rome. As Chaucer noted in The Canterbury Tales, "And on a Friday fell all this mischance." Yet perpetuating Friday as an unlucky day in America came from the late 19th-century American tradition of holding all executions on Fridays; Friday the 13th became the unluckiest of days simply because it combined two distinct superstitions into one. According to the Oxford University Press Dictionary of Superstitions, the first reference to Friday the 13th itself wasn’t until 1913. (So despite actually occurring on Friday, October 13, 1307, the popular notion that the Friday the 13th stigma comes from the date on which the famed order of the Knights Templar were wiped out by King Philip of France is just a coincidence.)

The repercussions of these phobias reverberated through American culture, particularly in the 20th century. Most skyscrapers and hotels lack a 13th floor, which specifically comes from the tendency in the early 1900s for buildings in New York City to omit the unlucky number (though the Empire State Building has a 13th floor). Street addresses sometimes skip from 12 to 14, while airports may skip the 13th gate. Allegedly, the popular Friday the 13th films were so-named just to cash in on this menacing date recognition, not because the filmmakers actually believed the date to be unlucky.

So, is Friday the 13th actually unlucky? Despite centuries of superstitious behavior, it largely seems like psychological mumbo jumbo. (One 1993 study seemed to reveal that, statistically speaking, Friday the 13th is unlucky, but the study's authors told LiveScience that though the data was accurate, "the paper was just a bit of fun and not to be taken seriously." Other studies have shown no correlation between things like increased accidents or injuries and Friday the 13th.)

And Friday the 13th isn't a big deal in other cultures, which have their own unlucky days: Greeks and Spanish-speaking countries consider Tuesday the 13th to be the unluckiest day, while Italians steer clear of Friday the 17th. So today, try to rest a little easy—Friday the 13th may not be so unlucky after all.

Additional Source: 13: The Story of the World’s Most Popular Superstition.

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