Quantum Mechanics, Black Holes and Washing Machines

There are many great mysteries in space and laundry rooms. Black holes are now pretty much accepted as fact. For many years it was thought that black holes were like the vacuum cleaners of space. They sucked in light and matter and never let them out. They were infinitely massive one way traps. A trip into a black hole was a one way street. Then along came Stephen Hawking who showed that black holes could evaporate through a mechanism now known as Hawking radiation. Here a virtual particle comes close to the event horizon of the black hole and splits into two real particles, one particle and one antiparticle. Normally, these would recombine and annihilate each other and return to the nothingness from whence virtual particles come. But if the particle-antiparticle pair is created too close to the event horizon of the black hole, one particle may fall into the hole and the other fly off into space. Thus, something has been created from nothing. A virtual particle has become real. This Hawking radiation allows black holes to evaporate and vanish. Before they vanish they become micro-black holes. It is possible that there are many micro-black holes all around us. I think many become trapped in washing machines.

There is another quantum mechanical oddity known as tunneling where particles can tunnel through energy barriers that by the rules of classical physics they do not have enough energy to surmount. In classical mechanics a ball rolling up a hill will stop and roll back down if it lacks sufficient energy to reach the top of the hill. In the quantum mechanical world the ball can sometimes go through the hill and appear on the other side even if it did not have enough energy to go over the top; hence, the term tunneling. It is my belief that we all see these quantum effects, tunneling and Hawking radiation,  in our washing machines. Think about it. How many times have you put two matching socks into your laundry machine and when the wash cycle is over only find one sock? Where is the other sock? Did you really put in two virtual socks and one has fallen into a micro-black hole and the other is left behind, now become a real but lonely sock destined for the unmatched sock bin? Or did one of the socks quantum tunnel through the washing machine? Is it on the floor around the washing machine? If so, it was a case of quantum tunneling; if not, the missing sock has disappeared into a black hole. Not only does the laundry room provide and excellent source of observation of quantum mechanics in the macro world but it may also explain the source of dark matter. Dark matter is a hypothetical substance postulated by cosmologist to explain astronomical gravitational effects that cannot be explained by the amount of visible matter present. It should be noted that most of the socks lost in laundries are black, as is dark matter. It is not clear what happens to white socks that fall into the micro-black holes but given that most white socks in the wash are not truly white, it is likely they too contribute to this mysterious dark matter as well.

It is not entirely clear why micro-black holes are attracted to washing machines. Perhaps it is the circular motion. It may entrap them like a whirlpool entraps a leaf. We cannot see the micro-black holes but we know that they are there by the detection of sock loss. Likewise we can detect QM tunneling by the presence of socks on the floor around the laundry machine when we know those socks were place inside the machine.

One thought on “Quantum Mechanics, Black Holes and Washing Machines

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