Experimentation

The next week, the socks and the rest of the appliances arrived and the appliances were installed in his lab.  Graduate assistants began washing, wringing and drying lots of nineteen pairs each of socks.  To duplicate his observation in the apartment, Jiggs had also ordered several dressers, and beds.  Once each lot of socks was dried, the students piled them randomly on a dresser, being careful not to mix lots.

Under the first pile, they found three ballpoint pins, but all of the pairs of socks matched.  They were puzzled.  There were no pens under the next five piles, and they found varying patterns of mismatching.  The whole first week of experimentation continued in that vein.  Most often, no ballpoint pens were found.  When pens were found, there were either more, or fewer pens than mismatches.

Jiggs felt like his head was in a vice.  He was So Sure!

Then, on Monday of the second week, he was watching the work going on in his lab.  "What is the gap between the wringers?" he asked the student assistants.  "Three millimeters," answered Bartik Kazloŭsk, one of his brightest students.

Jiggs threw up his hands in both frustration and exultation.  "We're killing them... or, at least injuring them so that they can't reproduce."  If the socks were dying in the wringers, then there would be no mating, no post-conjugal cannibalism, and no young produced, and all of the pairs would match.  If some of the socks survived, they may still attempt to mate, and the female socks would still probably kill and eat the male socks.  If the socks were rendered incapable of reproduction by the wringers, then no pens would be hatched, and some pairs would still not match.  

"Adjust the gap to five millimeters!"  Jiggs shouted to his assistants.  They quickly made the adjustments.

The study was off to a great start!

The End

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