There is way more to life than what we can touch and feel. Just about the time we think we’ve got our heads around it, something comes up that calls everything into question. It’s honestly a bit unsettling if you let yourself think about it unduly.
The human genome consists of some 3.2 billion base pairs. If you unwound the DNA in a single human cell, it would be roughly six feet long. If you stretched all the DNA in a single human out end to end, it would extend from the earth to the sun and back 360 times. Roughly 40% of human DNA is interchangeable with that of a cabbage.
When dogs poop, they most often orient themselves facing either north or south. We have no idea how or why they do that. The Global Positioning System is a network of 31 breathtakingly expensive satellites that are used to help mankind navigate anywhere on the globe. Military receivers are accurate to about 20 meters. The salmon does better than that, and its brain is roughly the size of an English pea.
Each water molecule consists of one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms. There are eight times as many atoms in a teaspoon of water as there are teaspoons of water in the Atlantic Ocean. If you took all the molecules in a teaspoon of water and set them to end to end, they would stretch from one end of our solar system and back five times.
Our moms told us to wash our hands to get rid of germs. There are ten times as many bacteria in and on the human body as there are cells. No amount of scrubbing will ever change that.
Of all the manifest weirdness to be found in the fields of science, one timeless axiom eclipses them all. Forget the Einstein-Rosen Bridge or the fact that the inky black spot in the night sky never, ever stops; the most inexplicable aspect of human existence can be found in your typical tool bag. My dad’s name is Woody. He coined the term Woody’s Law. Here’s a typical example.
My dad needed a nail puller. A nail puller looks kind of like a pair of pliers. However, instead of serrated jaws, the nail puller has a pair of hardened steel wedges that come together at a horizontal sharp edge. It is designed to pull nails. However, that’s not really what you use it for. The nail puller is used to snip stuff. It’s like wire cutters but handier. A nail puller is great for tasks like snipping the ends off of zip ties.
My dad has a perfectly serviceable nail puller. He is also a pretty neat guy. I don’t mean neat like cool, though he is that as well. I mean, he’s tidy. By contrast, I am most definitely not. My parents assure me I’m not adopted. However, on a certain day, when Dad needed his nail puller, it was nowhere to be found. Dad tore through his tool bag and explored all the standard haunts to no avail. In frustration, he trekked over to Home Depot and bought a new one which he used and then deposited in his tool bag.
A few days later, he needed the nail puller again. This time he retired to his tool bag only to discover the old nail puller. The new nail puller was inexplicably gone. Mom and dad live alone. The kids and grandkids visit regularly, but we don’t rifle through Dad’s tools and rearrange his nail pullers. Dad postulates that his tool bag perhaps doubles as a portal to another dimension.
Distilled to its essence, Woody’s Law simply states that amidst a sea of tools, whatever specific implement you need will be either tucked away where it is hard to reach or actually gone. It doesn’t matter how recently you put it away or how certain you are of its last location. Tools seem to slip in and out of the physical universe with unsettling frequency. Don’t believe me?
There are two broad categories of screws in the world — Phillips and standard. The Phillips self-centering screw was invented and patented by a John P. Thompson in 1932. He is not to be confused with John T. Thompson, who was busy with his eponymous Thompson submachine gun at around the same time. Nobody wanted Mr. Thompson’s weird crosshead screw. He sold the rights to his invention to a businessman named Henry Frank Phillips, so here we are. I have no idea the history behind the other sort. Maybe it was invented by some guy named Standard. Regardless, Phillips and standard screwdrivers are not interchangeable.
It never fails, and it doesn’t matter how many screwdrivers you own. If you need a standard, then all you can find are Phillips. If you need a Phillips, then they are all inexplicably flathead. It doesn’t matter how recently you went through the tool bag. I can only assume these tools keep slipping into another dimension. That’s Woody’s Law.