"My brother is too kind. He was eminent when my eminence was only imminent." -Niles Crane
Question #92425 posted on 07/07/2019 5:24 p.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I think of this question every single morning, and I'm glad I finally remembered to ask.

Let's say I'm finishing up my morning shower and I wring out my washcloth to hang it on the inside of the door. If I had unlimited strength, could I wring the washcloth out so hard that, when I was finished, it was totally dry? In other words, could I force every molecule out of the material so that it was bone dry?

Don't know why. I just think of these weird things.

Thanks.

-Washrag Randy

A:

Dear person,

Let's say your washcloth is made of cotton. Cotton is good at absorbing for a couple of reasons. First, water is a dipole (has an electrically positively charged "side" and a negatively charged "side" to the molecule) and cotton's electric charges are distributed unevenly along its cellulose fibers. These uneven charges cause the water and cellulose fibers to be attracted to each other. Second, the cellulose fibers are structured in such a way that it is easy for water to move along and inside the fibers. This makes it very easy for water to "hang out" on and around cotton.

Wringing your washcloth is twisting. Thus, the force we are applying to the washcloth is torsion. Torsion is comprised of both compression and tension. When you twist the washcloth to get water out, what you are doing is using compression to force the cellulose fibers closer together. This reduces the amount of surface area that the water can "hang out" on. However, because torsion is both compression and tension, we cannot increase the compression without increasing the tension. And, eventually, the tension will cause the washcloth to rip. 

I don't know how to do the math to prove it, but I'm certain that the washcloth would rip before every molecule of water will be forced out of the material. If you were going to destroy a cotton washcloth, would you compress it as hard as you could? Or would you pull it tight as hard as you could? The latter, of course. To force every molecule out would mean reducing the spaces between and within the cellulose fibers until they were so small that water molecules are too small to fit inside. That's extremely tiny. 

So no, you could not not wring out your washcloth so hard that all the water would be forced out.

But wait.

Let's say, for the sake of fun, that your washcloth has infinite tensile strength and that your hands are infinitely strong. That is, the cloth could never rip and you won't break your bones, rip or burn your skin, or anything like that. The cloth can only be damaged by the compression part of twisting. Let's say that you, with your infinite strength, start wringing the washcloth. The cotton would give off lots of heat. This would make the water turn into steam at about 212 F. So parts of the washcloth that are touching the air would be dry. However, there is still water at the center of the washcloth, which surrounded by several layers. If you don't unravel the washcloth periodically to allow the water inside to evaporate and instead keep squeezing, the cloth is likely to ignite once it reaches 400-750 F, after which you wouldn't have a washcloth anymore.

-Sheebs

Question #92433 posted on 07/07/2019 noon
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Hot air rises over cool air. But does humid air rise or fall particularly, given the same temperature?

-Arn

A:

Dear Arn,

So the principle in hot air rising over cold air is that hot air is less dense than cool air. This causes it to sink and the warmer air to rise. Humidity is a measure of the amount of water vapor in the air. More humid air has more water molecules, which you would think makes the air heaver, but it actually makes it lighter. Water molecules way less than the N2 and O2 molecules that make up most of the atmosphere, and increasing humidity pushes those molecules and makes the air less dense and thus, lighter. In a surprising turn of events more humid air rises and drier air sinks.

Science!

Tipperary

Question #92419 posted on 07/07/2019 12:30 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Presidential candidate Kamala Harris recently declared that Latina women only get paid 53 cents for every dollar a white male makes. If this claim is true, why don't businesses fire all their white male employees and replace them with Hispanic women, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process?

Sentinel

A:

Dear Sentinel,

It's far more complicated than that. 

When we say that women get paid X cents to the dollar a man makes, it doesn't mean that in every job a woman is being paid that much less for the same work. (Though in some cases, this is true. For example, the US Women's soccer team gets paid substantially less than the men's team, even though they're a much better team.) But there's more to it than that, because this is a systematic problem. It's more about how women are socialized into careers that pay less, education inequality (especially for people of color [POC]) making it hard for people to get qualified for jobs, and covert sexism and racism within institutions. Plus, fun fact, did you know that when more women begin to go into a given occupational field, the average salary for that occupation decreases? You can see this especially in the medical field, because only a certain number of doctors can be licensed at a time, so we can see how much the average goes down in comparison to how many women are doctors that year. It's insane, guys. 

Anyway, in general, the people (probably men) in charge will hire people that are similar to themselves (homogeny) and perpetuate the functional status quo of the business (institutional momentum). There will be a lot of resistance to changing the composition of a company. It will get a LOT of press, and all of the men who are being replaced are going to be pretty peeved as well. The negative response would probably cause such a negative economic downfall for the business that the money that they theoretically might be saving wouldn't compensate for it. There would probably even be lawsuits. 

However, there is a long and depressing history about POC workers being used as "strike-breakers." In the past, when unionized workers would go on strike to try to get better conditions, a company would go out and hire migrant or poor workers and pay them less than the old workers and keep them in bad conditions, and tell the striking workers to come back or they would give their jobs to the other people (obviously there was a lot more bad language than that.) This would often be enough for the strikers to fight to get their jobs back. It's pretty inhumane to use people like that. 

In other words, it just doesn't work that way. Institutional problems are rarely spotted at an individual level, so a business wouldn't get away with doing that, nor would it save them money in the long run. 

Cheers, 

Guesthouse