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Twisted Physics

Fermion Problems

18 Aug 2009, 01:22 UTC
Fermion Problems
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

Via Tom at Swans on Tea comes an amusing riff on the age-old problem of socks disappearing from the dryer. This happens to all of us at some time or another; I personally have three orphaned socks sitting in my drawer, in vain hope that one day their missing partners will magically reappear from whatever extra dimension they're currently visiting. (Clearly the portal to said extra dimension is inside our dryer.) But apparently it has more to do with the fact that socks are fermions rather than bosons, and thus subject to the Pauli exclusion principle. Per Tom:Put two socks comprising a pair into the wash and occasionally only
one will be there at the end of the cycle. Why? Two socks can clearly
exist in a system, thus there must be at least two sock states. Let’s
assume two, making them sock spin one-half states, and call these “sock
up” and “sock down”...
The socks are in the dryer system and one of them is sock-up with
the other being sock-down, in perfect accordance with the Pauli
exclusion principle. However, occasionally there will be an interaction
with the dryer (I call this the argyle sock-flip interaction, which
should be ...

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