Stephan Gyoery asked:
I would like to know where socks go when they put some into the washing machine? I made some observation that I put matching socks into the washing machine and I get only single socks back. Yes socks are not quantum mechanical entities. Where are the socks going?
Kat - I think you have to give up some socks as a sacrifice to the “God of Washing”. I don’t know. Maybe they didn’t end up as pairs in the washing machine when you put them in.
Chris - I’ve got a theory of this actually. I think what happens is that socks, very often, glue themselves to the inside of the machine so you remove the washing but you might leave one glued to the top so it gets separated from its counterpart. You then go to the washing, hang washing up, process it, put it all back in your bedroom all ironed and stuff and now you got an oddsock. You find the other one and that gets processed separately but by then you’ve got this odd sock in the bedroom and you think “Oh I must have forgotten to wash this one” so I put back in the wash. Its counterpart is probably – or in the wash then the other one comes back from the wash having been found later but by then its counterpart is now in the wash and the two remain separate forever. I think that’s what it is.
Kat - (Laughing) Yeah that’s the same circulating odd socks.
Chris - Actually I just got an email from Drew Merchant and he says 'I had to take apart my wasjing machine recently and I found 3 socks stuck in the drain tube, so this is where I think they end up'.
Stephan Gyoery asked the Naked Scientists: Hello Naked Scientists, I am enjoying your show from Switzerland listening to the podcast (I'm slowly catching up with the present). I think I have one of the fundamental questions of mankind: where do socks go when they vanish in the washing machine? I thought that this phenomenon of single socks returning without partner is limited to white tennis socks (experience dated from the 80's), but I can now attest that the same happens to black dress socks as well: once in a while (~20%) one out of a pair of socks "vanishes" when washing in a washing machine. First I thought that Black Holes are made up of lost socks, but... Okay, quite seriously: would there be statistic evidence for this observation? And would there be an explanation (mathematical/probability)? Cheers Stephan What do you think? Stephan Gyoery , Mon, 26th Oct 2009
Ah ha! (Don's his deerstalker and lights his pipe) The case of the disappearing socks. Elementary, my dear Watson Stephan. It is usually the case that the missing sock never entered the washing machine in the first place. However, it might be, where the sock was indeed put into the machine, that it now resides within a duvet cover. (Just to add to your problem, how is it that duvet covers often manage to turn themselves inside-out in the washing machine?)
Being the owner of many washers, and also the main repair person in my home I have had the honor of finding the answer to that question!!
I'm a leg amputee. As it's hard to get my shoe on and off my fake foot, and because my fake foot doesn't sweat I don't often change it. All my socks match but I always get even numbers out of the dryer. I would suggest having one leg taken off of you want to keep your socks. Also you might be able to sell odd socks to amputees who don't use a fake leg.
Dryers can not only rearrange matter, they can teleport it too.
Then how do you explain the loose change in MY sofa. Considering my dryer doesn't seem to eat my socks. Maybe it's the socks from next door. I'll start giving the change to her if that's the case.....now where are my keys... mountaineirc1969, Thu, 5th Nov 2009
I've always found that duvet covers have a strong tendency to swallow up socks and underwear (and even T-shirts) in the wash.
having parts of your body removed to save socks is a bit extreme. It's entirely up to how badly you want to save socks. Personally I'd rather lose my socks if I could have me leg back. mountaineirc1969, Fri, 6th Nov 2009
I recall finishing a paper on this and similar phenomena in 2015; a one hundred year effort.