A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Monday, January 29, 2007

Immutable Laws of Nature

There are quite a few of these, dating back to Newton and the boys. An object in motion tends to stay in motion while an object at rest tends to stay at rest. Energy can be changed from one form to another but it cannot be destroyed. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

To these, I append the following:

For every table in a common area there will be a number of pieces of gum stuck to the bottom of the table proportionate to the number of people using the common area in a given period of time.

Boil it all down, and I think it basically comes to this: For every 1,000 people sitting at a table in a year, one piece of gum will accrue to the bottom of the table.

I base this law on the observation of tables here at UW-Parkside. We are currently remodeling/expanding our student union, and consequently all of the tables that were housed in the old union are currently stacked along the walls of the hallways that traverse the basement level of the univeristy. These hallways are almost never used by students, but they are very wide-- about 15 feet across-- making them an excellent place to stick tables that are not currently in use. And if you stack one table upside down on another table, you can fit twice as many tables in the little warren of hallways running beneath the university's buildings.

And, since they are upside down and at about waist level, you can easily see-- far, far too easily, trust me-- all of the little lumps of dead gum that students have left on the undersides of all the tables. Blech. Truly disgusting-- but completely universal. There isn't a single table that doesn't have at least five or six pieces of gum stuck to it, and many have a dozen or more.

The tables are new since I started working here, so less than six years old, and I would estimate that a 1,000 people a year at a table is a reasonable estimate, though it might be a bit higher. Actually, now that I think about it, the number of pieces of gum may be dependent on other variables-- demographics of the population sitting at the tables, official efforts to stomp out gum sticking, availability of gum, etc.-- but the basic premise that tables in public areas will develop gum adhesions is incontrovertible in my mind. So, the next time you sit down at a table in a public area, just remember what is lurking just above your kneecaps.

And shudder.

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Some of those gumwads are boogers.

Just thought you'd want to know.
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