Friday, March 09, 2001


Report on Resisentialism

"A convenient point of departure is provided by the famous Clark-Trimble experiments of 1935. Clark-Trimble was not primarily a physicist, and his great discovery of the Graduated Hostility of Things was made almost accidentally. During some research into the relation between periods of the day and human bad temper, Clark-Trimble, a leading Cambridge psychologist, came to the conclusion that low human dynamics in the early morning could not sufficiently explain the apparent hostility of Things at the breakfast table - the way honey gets between the fingers, the unfoldability of newspapers, etc. In the experiments which finally confirmed him in this view, and which he demonstrated before the Royal Society in London, Clark-Trimble arranged four hundred pieces of carpet in ascending degrees of quality, from coarse matting to priceless Chinese silk. Pieces of toast and marmalade, graded, weighed, and measured, were then dropped on each piece of carpet, and the marmalade-downwards incidence was statistically analysed. The toast fell right-side-up every time on the cheap carpet, except when the cheap carpet was screened from the rest (in which case the toast didn't know that Clark-Trimble had other and better carpets), and it fell marmalade-downwards every time on the Chinese silk. Most remarkable of all, the marmalade- downwards incidence for the intermediate grades was found to vary exactly with the quality of carpet."

Here's a report, from National Public Radio, on buttered toast (see the middle of the page).

"Robert Siegel talks with Robert Matthews, a physicist at Aston University in Birmingham, England and the world's foremost expert on Murphy's Law. Matthews is part of a six-week experiment across Britain that begins today. Up to 150,000 primary and secondary school pupils are dropping buttered toast. If the results prove that the toast is more likely to fall butter-side down, Murphy's law will be validated. (4:00)"

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